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Advancing Penn State’s Strategic Goals

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This summer, Penn State will embark on a new fundraising campaign that will strengthen the University’s position as a leader in research, education, and global outreach. Unlike previous campaigns, the fundraising effort will last a short five years, which will reflect the urgency of the challenges the campaign will address and will enable donors to witness their gifts at work almost immediately.

The eight themes currently under consideration for the campaign include: global engagement; cultural literacy; human health; sustainability and human security; access and affordability; digital innovation; discovery, excellence, and community; and Invent Penn State.

The themes are familiar—President Eric Barron has been discussing these matters since he became president in 2014. Efforts have been made to address the themes across the University during the last few years, and the president expects that the new campaign will greatly increase these endeavors. Each theme has the potential to make significant impacts locally, nationally, and globally, and Barron anticipates that donors will be excited about these big ideas because they are issues that are meaningful to them.

While the college will support all of the University’s fundraising initiatives in the new campaign, substantial attention will be given to enhancing human health. Penn State plans to harness the power of colleges and programs across the University to create an all-encompassing approach to individual and population health, and the Eberly College of Science will be a significant contributor.

Currently, more than 70 faculty members throughout the college have highly productive, ongoing research programs in some of the most competitive areas of biomedi­cal and health science research, including but not limited to gene therapy, drug development, diagnostics, cancer biology, neurodegenerative diseases, molecular medicine, and medical genomics. Additionally, the col­lege has assembled strong teams of in­vestigators who conduct groundbreak­ing basic research in RNA biology, enzyme chemistry, epigenetics, and infectious disease, and who are at the forefront of the next wave of biomedical research.

Outside of the health theme, researchers in the college study ecological interactions among organisms, plant genetics, and species evolution. The college also is at the forefront of addressing both basic and applied questions regarding the production and use of renewable energy, energy storage, and the effects of energy extraction and consumption on the environment. In addition, faculty members study the origin and development of the Universe; materials, such as graphene and topological insulators; and sophisticated ways to analyze large datasets. Going forward, chemistry, physics, biology, statistics, and mathematics will be in­creasingly important in solving the most pressing problems of our time.

Students will also be fully involved in every aspect of these areas with our faculty, through both classroom and research opportunities. The college will provide students with the ability to help resolve these types of societal issues by training our students to problem solve and learn through hands-on experiences. These opportunities will enable students to transfer their coursework knowledge to real-world issues and make a significant impact on both their personal learning experience and the world around them.

For the college to remain a leader in scientific discoveries and innovations, our scientists need access to the newest sequenc­ing, imaging, and other innovative technologies that drive these rapidly advancing fields. The college also must continue to make targeted hires to strengthen its expertise and leadership in these areas. To do all of this, the college has established fundraising goals to support students, faculty members, programs, and equipment purchases.
Although the number of themes and the focus of each will be further refined before the start of the campaign on July 1, the University hopes one thing will not change: Penn State’s students, faculty members, staff members, alumni, and friends will rally behind the campaign as a visible and impactful way of making a difference in Pennsylvania and beyond.  —Tara Immel