Ivy Leaf - Fall 2013

Thoughts from the Chancellor and Dean

Our Stories

One of my favorite singer-songwriters is Brandi Carlile, who wrote the song, “The Story,” which has the following lyric: “But these stories don’t mean anything if you’ve got no one to tell them to.” At Penn State Altoona, we have many wonderful stories about the great work and service of our students, faculty and staff, and through the Ivy Leaf magazine, we have the means to share them with you.

Recently, I had the honor of traveling to Rwanda with some of our students and faculty members, and I was privileged to work with them in a local school and the community. The goal of our trip was to further develop our partnership with the Star School of Kigali, Rwanda, to design and implement social entrepreneurship projects in a country still recovering from the 1994 genocide. Penn State Altoona students and faculty work with Star School children, teachers, and administrators to create sustainable business models that result in education, employment, and success. Witnessing our students’ and faculty members’ individual and collective commitment, enthusiasm, and creativity was heartwarming and inspiring; I was thrilled to be a member of their team. The students’ dedication to serving others, volunteerism, duty, sacrifice, leadership, ability to assimilate and work with the community, and their desire to actively look for ways to make a difference in others’ lives by changing their lives for the better was awe-inspiring.

In this issue of Ivy Leaf, you will read various stories about the Penn State Altoona community that focus on these same themes. Leadership for Life, a creative new program that affords students the opportunity to network and to understand how they can contribute within their communities after graduation is featured in “Finding the Servant Leader in All of Us.” I invite you to turn to page 34 to learn more about this unique program.

Important lessons on the value of heritage, hard work, and overcoming adversity can be learned by perusing the fascinating story of Bonnie Cutsforth-Huber, associate professor of music [p. 26], who learned what it means to overcome fear and take on opportunity with a fierce determination. You also will discover how she uses her personal experiences to help her students overcome their own fear, build self-confidence, and stretch themselves to reach higher goals.

In “Higher Ed Heroes,” you will learn about the lives, special challenges, and successes of some of our students who are veterans. The transitions they must make and obstacles they must overcome in order to move forward are significant; fortunately, Penn State Altoona has some very dedicated staff who are with them every step of the way. Most importantly, you will learn about their commitment to service and improving the lives of others.

When I reflect on the amazing stories of our students, staff, and faculty in serving others in order to change their lives for the better, I am filled with pride and great hope for the future of humankind. I often remind students and others that success is not measured by power, position, or wealth, but rather by the positive differences one makes in others’ lives. I am proud of our work and success at Penn State Altoona to make our community and our world a better place.