Penn State

Penn State president to seek opinions from other leaders before making Bennett Center decision

Penn State President Rodney Erickson said Tuesday he will collect input from other university leaders before he takes action on the future of the on-campus Bennett Family Center.

Erickson has in his hands a report from a group of university faculty and staff who were tasked with examining child care services after the uproar over the university’s decision to outsource the management of the center to an outside company, Hildebrandt Learning Centers. One of the task force’s recommendations was that the university delay signing the contract with Hildebrandt until more information is collected.

Erickson told the Faculty Senate on Tuesday that he’s waiting for feedback from its committees. He said he will also discuss the report with the president’s council, made up of vice presidents and senior administrators.

Erickson said the report was “very comprehensive” and he thanked the task force, which was led by Associate Vice President Jacqueline Edmondson, for the work.

The task force urged the president to decide quickly on the future of the Bennett Center. In its report, it noted that three teachers have left the child care center because of uncertainty over the future.

The plan Penn State had for the center was to hand over the keys to Hildebrandt. The teachers would have transitioned from Penn State employment to Hildebrandt and subsequently lost their university benefits and perks, such as the 75 percent tuition discount.

Parents of children who attend the Bennett Center feared the change would result in staff turnover, and they lobbied the university to reconsider.

The task force’s report, online at, also recommends the university appoint a full-time director of child care services, look for ways to expand the hours of child care on campus, and offer affordable options to students who are parents.