Dear Friends of the College,
It is heartening to feel like we may to be returning to a sense of normalcy as we continue to navigate the effects of the coronavirus.
As a college, we are learning to blend the old and the new. We are enjoying our ability to again offer in-person experiences on campus, in our classrooms and labs, and abroad as we return to offering our students international experiences. At the same time, we are taking advantage of our growing comfort with technology to “virtually” bring visitors to our classrooms and departments and provide our students and employees with flexible services. On a personal note, I’m glad to be traveling again and to be able to meet with our alumni and donors outside of our “Zoom boxes!”
We continue to push ahead with the college’s new strategic plan, making progress in key areas, and we are excited to see our strategy aligning with President-elect Neeli Bendapudi’s vision and dedication to student success, fostering inclusivity, and creating opportunities for students, postdocs, faculty, and staff to thrive. And I am personally excited to work with her in the coming year as we continue to implement our new strategic plan.
Attracting the best and brightest is critical to our success as a college. We have launched several new programs to ensure that we not only recruit a broad and diverse pool of faculty, postdocs, and students but also that we are able to support them to meet their full potential and feel a sense of community.
The college is delighted to announce that a new initiative—the Science Education Collaboratory— launched in November 2021. A portmanteau of collaboration and laboratory, the Collaboratory intentionally supports opportunities to do innovative new things in science education within a collaborative community. Stay tuned as we use this opportunity to highlight, celebrate, and support science education research, curriculum innovation, and learning outcomes evaluation and research.
Our focus this issue of the Science Journal is on our college’s preprofessional programs, which provide a number of interdisciplinary opportunities for our students to complement their interests in science with additional training in other fields such as business, medicine, government, and industry.
On behalf of the college, I would like to take a moment to express our heartfelt gratitude and many, many thanks to two individuals who have been instrumental in establishing the legacy of success these programs now enjoy. Ron Markle, director of the Science and Premedicine majors, is in phased retirement and will step down later this year after more than 15 years in that role. Loida Escote-Carlson, founding director of the master of biotechnology degree program, retired at the end of December 2021 after 21 years leading the program. Please also join us in welcoming our new director of the master of biotechnology degree program, Natasha Tirko, associate teaching professor of biochemistry and molecular biology.
Finally, I cannot overstate the positive impact our donors have had on the college. Since the
start of the campaign “A Greater Penn State for 21st Century Excellence” in 2016, the value of our endowment principal has increased by 138 percent. Thanks to your support, we now have 86 more endowed and annual funds than we did at the start of this campaign. This includes undergraduate and graduate student aid, research and program support, and faculty funds. These funds flow directly to our students with need, our talented faculty who are creating new scientific knowledge, and our programs that support our world-class education and research.
Despite the challenges we have faced this past year, together we are making positive impacts in our communities and around the world! With your support, I look forward to what we are able to accomplish this coming year.
Verne M. Willaman Dean