PENN STATE: MAKING LIFE BETTER

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.

p06class.jpg (137897 bytes)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 Pennsylvania.

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.

p07stacks.jpg (92345 bytes)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 shows.
  • 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.

p08pawelczyk.tiff.jpg (46283 bytes)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.
  • p10bench.jpg (41801 bytes)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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