This is Penn State | PSU President Rodney Erickson welcomes students

August 23, 2013 

You are joining nearly 45,000 new and returning students, who will comprise this year’s University Park community. We’re delighted to have you back on campus, and look forward to another productive year.

To help you better appreciate your fellow students, I’d like to share a few facts about the incoming class. It is one of our largest and academically accomplished, with students who hail from around the globe.

New students have traveled here from 72 countries and nearly every state, except Iowa, Mississippi, New Mexico, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming. Seventy-six percent of the class attended public schools; 18 percent attended private schools; and 6 percent attended charter schools or were home-schooled.

This group joins an exceptional academic community that has gained national and international recognition in recent months.

For example:

•  Penn State’s Advanced Vehicle Team won first place in year two of the EcoCAR 2 competition sponsored by General Motors and the U.S. Department of Energy.

•  The Penn State Meteorology team bested 50 universities to win its second straight title in the Weather Challenge, a North American collegiate weather forecasting competition.

•  The College of Communications has captured back-to-back national championships in the overall intercollegiate standings in the William R. Hearst Foundation’s Journalism Awards Program.

•  The Penn State Army ROTC Nittany Lion Battalion finished first of U.S. teams and second overall in the Sandhurst Military Stakes Competition, which tests the strength, smarts and mettle of members of teams from all over the world.

•  Masatoshi Nei, Evan Pugh professor of biology, has been selected to receive the Kyoto prize for his work in the biological sciences. The Kyoto prize is one of the most prestigious prizes in the world, and is awarded to researchers, scientists, philosophers and artists.

•  Dennis Scanlon, professor of health policy and administration, was awarded a $7.3 million renewal grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation with the aim of improving health care quality.

•  Khanjan Mehta, director of the Humanitarian Engineering Social Entrepreneurship program in the College of Engineering, was the Northeast regional winner of the 2013 Outreach Scholarship W.K. Kellogg Foundation Engagement Award. He and his students are working with farmers in Kenya to develop low-cost greenhouses that will provide a more stable food supply and a self-sustaining business model.

•  Kenneth Womack, associate dean for academic affairs and professor of English and integrative arts at Penn State Altoona, has been named the 2013-14 Penn State Laureate.

•  University Park has been recognized as having one of the 10 best university fitness centers in the nation according to Allied Health World.

•  Penn State student-athletes surpassed national averages for academic progress, with six Penn State squads earning perfect multi-year scores for academic progress as measured by the National Collegiate Athletic Association.

•  This summer we held a groundbreaking for the children’s garden at the Arboretum at Penn State and dedicated the Marsh Meadow Boardwalk, which is a gift from the Class of 2010. Be sure to wander through the grounds.

•  Finally, a group of Penn State students created the Penn State Tradition Keeper Program ( www.lionslistpsu.com) that lists the “must do” activities for any Penn Stater.

I’m incredibly proud of the work we do at Penn State — our brilliant faculty and staff members who shape our students’ lives; our $800 million research enterprise that is finding solutions to the world’s most pressing problems; and our service and philanthropy that benefit humankind. And, of course, the incredible accomplishments our students achieve every day. No one does this work better than Penn State, and you play an important role in shaping our future.

Thank you for being part of the Penn State community.

We’re glad you’re here.

Rodney Erickson is the president of Penn State.

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