Dear Parents and Families,
In early November, many were shocked and saddened by the allegations of sexual abuse that rocked our University, and I continue to feel deep concern for victims and their families. Obviously this has been the most difficult time in Penn State’s history and our University community is just coming to terms with the events of the past few weeks. We are grateful for the tremendous support from our communities.
In the last month, faculty have reached out to students in our classrooms, and students and alumni have spearheaded fundraising activities in support of victims of sexual abuse — all efforts to begin the healing process.
Just before the Thanksgiving break, the students in the Human Development and Family Studies (HDFS) Club organized a community event to show our solidarity against abuse of any kind, but specifically child abuse. The program encouraged everyone on campus to wear blue that day, a sort of “blue-out” to link the York campus’ resolve with the resolve of our counterparts at the University Park campus that saw the “blue-out” at a recent football game. Penn State York’s event commenced with a silent walk around campus at sundown. When the group gathered again at the John A. Romano Administration Building, candles were lit as everyone recited a pledge of awareness and prevention of child abuse. After that, each person signed a paw ornament and hung it on a holiday tree in the lobby. A framed version of the pledge stands next to the tree, to remind everyone who walks through the building of our commitment, as President Rod Erickson reminds us, to do the right thing, the first time, every time.
The Student Government Association (SGA) also hosted a town hall forum for students to express their thoughts and feeling. Additionally our chancellor, Dr. Lisa Plowfield, was in attendance and answered questions from students. Further, there are other events planned for the spring semester. Specifically, our students will have an opportunity to learn more clearly what can be done to report abuse in the future.
These are just a few examples that demonstrate how students at Penn State York are learning a great deal about who they are and how they fit into this world. In student affairs, we are committed to the concept of learning as the core value of the campus, and that identity development is preeminent after that. Higher education holds the possibility of learning about specific fields of study, but it also holds limitless opportunities to engage others in conversations about philosophy, ideas and being mindful of the needs of others. It is at this intersection of personal interests, skills and abilities, and the needs of the community, that our students are discovering their path into the future.
As such, I could not be more excited about the resources that are available for our students. We have clubs for military veterans and clubs for biologists. We have clubs for tech-savvy students and clubs for students with various racial and ethnic backgrounds. Our multicultural center and fitness center are examples of physical locations where students can go to blow off some steam and be accepted for who they are. Whether a student is looking for academic assistance in the Nittany Success Center; leadership development through our athletic programs; or just a place to have fun and relax with the Campus Programming Board, Penn State York is brimming with the potential for involvement and satisfaction.
Speaking of satisfaction, there are many data points that suggest that Penn State continues to be a great value. Applications are running ahead of applications received at the same time last year; our Alumni Association continues to be the largest in the nation; recruiters seek out our graduates and right here at Penn State York, a full 90 percent of students who filled out a national student satisfaction survey have reported that if they could start over, they would still choose to attend this campus. Reports like these and the fact that students are reporting 4 percent more undergraduate research at Penn State York than three years ago strengthen my dedication to creating a dynamic experience for each and every student.
Another positive development in student affairs is this very newsletter. It is important to be able to periodically communicate with those of you who provide the greatest amount of support to our students — parents and families. Thank you for your encouragement. Thank you for being a listening ear and a helping hand. Thank you for making it possible for our students to achieve their dream of earning a college education. Please let me know if there are topics that you would like to see addressed in future publications.
As you have need, please do not hesitate to contact me or any of the staff who work in the student affairs division. Our most sincere passion is to provide an environment for student learning and development.
With gratitude for the opportunity to serve,