PENN STATE: MAKING
As the knowledge needs of society rapidly change and expand, higher learning has a more
important role to play than ever before in advancing the quality of life. Penn State's
commitment to students, to outreach, and to progress touches the lives of most
Pennsylvanians and improves the quality of life for all.
The University offers undergraduate
programs in 232 fields of study and 148 graduate majors, including programs targeted
throughout the state to meet regional needs. Nearly 215,000 Penn State alumni live in
Penn State Continuing and Distance Education programs serve 200,000 people annually,
and the University's public television and radio stations together reach more than 1.2
million households in Pennsylvania. Penn State Cooperative Extension, with an office in
every county of the state, provides programs and services that address quality of life
concerns for both rural and urban communities. Penn State 4-H serves 123,000 youth ages 6
to 17. Penn State's research program benefits the health of Pennsylvania's economy as well
as the personal health and well being of virtually all Pennsylvania citizens. Penn State
researchers study the causes, prevention, and cure of human illnesses. They are bringing
cancer detection to rural, medically underserved Pennsylvania Appalachian communities,
trying to reduce teen pregnancy in Harrisburg, and developing a system to remotely monitor
the medical condition of homebound diabetes patients in Philadelphia. For Pennsylvania's
schools, they have worked on substance abuse prevention programs, created low-fat,
low-salt recipes for the National School Lunch Program, improved music education using the
Internet, and helped make sure that injured athletes do not return to the playing field
too soon. They are developing guidelines for community service, electronic monitoring, and
mandatory drug counseling in criminal sentencing. Pennsylvania's public forests, drinking
water, tornado and earthquake readiness, tourism, and folklore all have benefited from the
thousands of research projects conducted throughout the Penn State system.
Penn State has something important to offer to virtually every priority of the state.
Three key examples are the University's contributions to public education, economic
development, and the agendas of the Commonwealth's state agencies.
Penn State Contributions to Public Education
Approximately 90 percent of Penn State's baccalaureate graduates from the College of
Education find employment, with the majority remaining in the state. Among other Penn
State contributions to public education are:
- Technology education for teachers. The College of Education provides the
professional development component for Pennsylvania's Link-to-Learn initiative.
- Professional development for school personnel. Several of Penn State's
colleges offer a wide variety of professional development activities for teachers,
administrators, and other school personnel.
- Support for school boards and administrators. Penn State's Pennsylvania
School Study Council works with school districts across the state to generate and share
data of assistance to school administrators and boards.
- Special programs for at-risk youth. The Penn State Educational Partnership
Program (PEPP) is an after-school tutoring and mentoring program in several communities of
the state, serving more than 1,000 children to date and involving nearly as many Penn
State students as tutors.
- Policy leadership. The Pennsylvania Education Policy Center in the College
of Education is a non-partisan clearinghouse for the improvement of education.
- Technical assistance. The Pennsylvania School-to-Work Technical Assistance
Center is operated by Penn State Outreach and Cooperative Extension.
Penn State Contributions to Economic Development
A longstanding example of Penn State's involvement in economic development in the
Commonwealth is PENNTAP, the Pennsylvania Technical Assistance Program, founded in 1965.
Last year PENNTAP responded to more than 800 technical cases at more than 500 Pennsylvania
firms with a resulting economic impact in cost savings and sales increases of $6.7
million. Penn State's many other economic development activities include:
- Technology transfer. Through the Ben Franklin Technology Center of Central
and Northern Pennsylvania, Penn State worked with more than 70 companies last year on
projects that improved processes, developed new products and provided workforce training.
- Help in recruiting companies to Pennsylvania. The University's
intellectual resources help to attract high tech businesses. In a recent example, Penn
State and Penn College teamed with the Department of Community and Economic Development to
recruit Higher Dimension Medical, Inc., which will employ more than 600 engineers and
technicians, to Williamsport.
- Support for business incubators. Penn State is the home of two business
incubators in collaboration with the Chamber of Business and Industry of Centre County,
one based at the Penn State Research Park and the other dedicated to commercialization
based on the life sciences. Penn State also provides business services and technical
assistance to 18 other incubators through the Ben Franklin Center.
- Participation in trade missions. University President Spanier served as an
ambassador on the Governor's trade missions to Israel and Ireland. The University is
involved in many other TEAM Pennsylvania activities, for example, assisting in the
business calling program and participating in industrial and economic development trade
- Partnerships with business and industry. Last year, Penn State was
involved in 661 sponsored research projects with 381 Pennsylvania companies that invested
a total of $13.6 million in these efforts.
Service to State Agencies
The College of Agricultural Sciences is an excellent example of the involvement of Penn
State faculty and staff in important issues facing Pennsylvania. Last year, the college
participated in 128 studies and projects with 17 different state agencies. While half of
these projects addressed agribusiness concerns such as pest management, animal health,
sustainable forestry, farm and food safety, nutrient management, and development of
international markets, among many others, the college also worked with agencies such as
the Departments of Environmental Protection, Education, Public Welfare, Conservation and
Natural Resources, Health, and the Game and Fish and Boat Commissions on a wide variety of
other concerns. In addition, college faculty and staff served on 34 state boards,
commissions, and committees. Among other state issues in which Penn State is involved are:
- The environment. Last year, Penn State's Environmental Resources Research
Institute provided assistance to the Commonwealth through 22 different studies in such
areas as watershed management and water quality, wetlands preservation and protection,
forest management, and mineland reclamation. The institute also provides training for the
Departments of Environmental Protection and Conservation and Natural Resources.
- Transportation. Continuing a long relationship, Penn State's Pennsylvania
Transportation Institute (PTI) and PennDOT entered a new five-year partnership in March,
1998. PTI has improved the serviceability of asphalt pavements, provided advanced training
for more than 2,500 professionals from PennDOT and industry, tested and improved guide
rails, and helped to develop the state's recent revisions in the young driver program.
Penn State engineering and marketing faculty are currently assisting PennDOT in updating
the state's long-range transportation plan.
- Health. Penn State is working to meet the Commonwealth's needs for health
care professionals through the Generalist Physician Initiative which is changing
curriculum to encourage more students to enter primary care medicine, and as the lead
academic institution in the Pennsylvania Area Health Education Center (AHEC) program which
provides clinical experiences for health professional students and support for existing
practitioners. The Penn State Geisinger Health System and Penn State's College of Medicine
offer such services as the Poison Center, the Life Lion Medical Helicopter Program, the
Trauma Center, and the Cancer Institute to many counties of the state. Rural health is a
special focus; the Pennsylvania Office of Rural Health, located at Penn State, works to
bring programs and resources to the state's rural communities.
- Consumer interests. The Attorney General's Bureau of Consumer Protection
is assisted by students from the University Park Campus in mediating consumer complaints
as part of the Bureau's effort to make the mediation process more efficient.
- Y2K. Penn State has worked with the Governor's Office to
address the Y2K challenge for Pennsylvania, using faculty expertise and University
delivery systems to provide a rapid response to this critical public policy question. Penn
State Outreach and Cooperative Extension is leading the effort and has loaned an
administrator to serve as the project's executive director and chair of the Commonwealth's
Year 2000 Coordinating Council.
These few examples help to demonstrate the support Penn State gives to Pennsylvania's
citizens and their communities. This multifaceted response is the return on the
Commonwealth's investment in Penn State.
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