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Dean's Message

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Dear Friends of the College,

Dean Larson

This is a time of transition in the senior leadership at Penn State.  Provost Nicholas Jones arrived July 1, 2013, and Eric Barron assumed the presidency on May 12.  Coincidentally and appropriately, it is also a time of looking back at goals and accomplishments and of formal strategic planning for the years ahead.  As we look back, I am impressed by what the college has accomplished.  I also realize that although we have made gains in many areas, we need to maintain our efforts in order to continue on the track of increasing success for all members of the college community.

In the past five years, we have expanded and enhanced opportunities for our undergraduate students through educational and co-curricular improvements.  By building a stronger sense of community in the college, enabling and encouraging more students to participate in long-term study abroad and other international academic experiences, and improving our academic programs—in part by introducing new modes of teaching and learning, providing more and better career information and advising, and increasing the number scholarships available, among other things—our college has worked to improve the academic experience and better prepare students for their future in a changing global economy.

We are attracting more students and a more diverse group of students.  Undergraduate applications to the Eberly College of Science have increased by 75 percent over the last ten years; enrollments increased by 23 percent in the same timeframe.  Over that time, applications from underrepresented minority students increased by over 105 percent, and their enrollments have shown a similar increase.  Underrepresented minority students constitute 15 percent of the students who will matriculate in the college this coming summer and fall.

The most dramatic change in applications over the last ten years is the more than eight-fold increase in undergraduate applications from international students.  International undergraduate applications went from just a few percent to over 20 percent of the college’s total undergraduate applications, even as the total number of applications grew, and international students now comprise just over 10 percent of the undergraduates enrolled in the college.  This dramatic increase in applications from around the world is testimony to Penn State’s increasing visibility as one of the world’s great research universities.

We are continuing to develop our strategic plan for the next five years.  In the process, we have identified three key themes: enabling research of the highest caliber in the physical, life, and mathematical sciences; elevating the quality of our undergraduate and graduate educational experiences to the level of our research; and increasing our impact on society through better translation of our research.  We are working to identify specific initiatives in each of these areas so that we can position our college to improve the world through our students, discoveries, and outreach.  The college has also been working with Provost Jones to ensure that our priorities align with those identified by the University.  I will have more specific details of the college’s strategic plan to share with you in the December issue.
Thank you to everyone who has contributed the successes of our initiatives and to those who have been working on the development of the new strategic plan.  I greatly appreciate the continued support of the entire college community.

Sincerely,

Daniel J. Larson

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