Dear alumni and friends,
The past six weeks have stirred a pretty wide range of emotions. We share with the rest of the world the outrage and sorrow surrounding the allegations with which you all are familiar. Our thoughts and prayers join the millions in support of the alleged victims. It has been challenging for all of us to watch as Penn State, the institution we are so proud of, continues to be tested.
This will likely go on for some time, as you would suspect. Investigations will continue and the legal process will play out. But Penn State will continue and, indeed, I think we will learn and become better. President Erickson and the Board of Trustees are committed to the University’s core values of honesty, integrity, and community. They are working with the rest of the administration, faculty, and staff to restore the public’s trust and confidence in Penn State.
I want to add here that, as provost for the last 13 years, President Erickson was my boss. There is no finer person to take us forward as we face the world, heal, and change. He represents a stable platform from which we can launch significant change and possesses a passion for making us better that will make that change happen. I have never trusted anyone more. I ask that you support him as he gains your trust as well.
The good that is done here must, and does, go on. A grassroots movement among Penn Staters has raised over $500,000 for the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network, funding its counseling and crisis services for victims and survivors of abuse and sexual assault. The “blue out” of Beaver Stadium during the Nebraska game, which was initiated by one of our own Smeal MBA students, raised another $47,000 for Prevent Child Abuse Pennsylvania and the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape. And there are countless other examples of Penn Staters responding to recent events in a positive and uplifting manner.
I thought I would also share some quick numbers that might answer some of the questions you have been asking about students, employers, and development activities:
- Compared to last year, undergraduate applications to Smeal are up 11 percent and MBA applications are up 37 percent.
- Corporate recruiting remains steady and we have received many messages of support from some of our top corporate partners. Our spring Supply Chain Career Fair is expected to stretch to two days and our Corporate Associates have requested that we hold a spring career fair for all business majors.
- From a development perspective, multiple new scholarships have been created since early November by alumni interested in signaling their support for the college.
Penn State, Smeal, and the people that make up these institutions continue to do a lot of good. I fear that this fact may get lost in the constant barrage of negative news. So, in this issue of The Smeal Report, we are highlighting just a few of the ways in which the college and its people are making a difference. Click through to hear about:
- a community in Japan that turned to Smeal Professor Barbara Gray for help recovering from the March earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear disaster;
- a charity founded by MBA students doing great work in Haiti;
- the college’s new alumni career services office, set up to help our graduates who are looking for work or new opportunities in our sputtering economy;
- the personal impact that the scholarships you support are having on our students.
These accounts provide just the tiniest glimpse of the good being done by the people that make up this great University. And that work will go on.
As we welcome a new year, it’s important that we, as alumni of Penn State, reflect on the heartbreaking events alleged to have occurred here. But we must also remember that Penn State is not a monolith. Penn State is people. It’s you. It’s me. It’s half a million alumni. It’s 95,000 students. It’s 45,000 employees. You are Penn State. And the actions or inactions of a few do not, and will not, define us.
Please have a safe and happy holiday season.
James B. Thomas
The John and Becky Surma Dean of Smeal