Penn State

Penn State World Campus honors outstanding community members

Awards ceremonies happen all the time at a college. But what about a college that spreads across the globe? Penn State’s World Campus is honoring some outstanding members of its community.

The campus is the university’s online platform, a way to bring learners from across the country and around the world to Penn State virtually. Officials are hoping the awards are a way to bring Penn State to the students and faculty at the same time.

“The World Campus is such an important part of the university as a whole. The university is investing a lot in growing the World Campus over time. It has gone from being an interesting idea to a force of nature,” said Rob Butler, director of major gifts for Outreach and Online Education.

“A lot of our students don't live locally. We are trying as an organization to identify as many ways as possible to make students feel part of the university, part of the family,” Butler said.

The dinner and ceremony on Thursday is the eighth year for the appreciation event.

According to Craig Weidemann, vice president for Outreach and vice provost for Online Education, the event is used as a forum to say thank you to OOE’s many volunteers and donors.

“This year we are proud to recognize three long-term colleagues for their support: Dr. Sara C. Parks, Jonathan E. Dambrot and Beverly A. Wise,” Weidemann said. “They have each made huge contributions to our overall success, to our students and the communities we serve.”

Parks, nutritionist and professor emerita for the School of Hospitality Management, will receive the Dubin Pioneer Award. Parks is credited for being one of the first to envision distance learning when she arrived at Penn State by creating what would later become the dietetic technician degree program.

“(Early in my career I met) bright, energetic and extremely competent individuals who because of family, financial and location responsibilities were unable to pursue an advanced education,” Parks said. “They were excited to hear I was coming to Penn State because at the time (1970s), the university offered a noncredit food supervisor course through Independent Learning. They asked me to commit to developing a degree program.”

Today, more than 120 distance education degrees and certifications are offered through Penn State World Campus.

Butler said the award is named for Samuel Dubin, an education innovator in the field of distance learning.

Dambrot is CEO and co-founder of Prevalent, an information technology security company based in New Jersey, and a member of the OOE and Penn State World Campus iMBA Advisory Boards. Dambrot earned his iMBA through Penn State World Campus and will receive the Penn State World Campus Outstanding Alumnus Award. He is creating a co-sponsored scholarship for students in the iMBA program.

“My hope is that the scholarship will lead more security professionals to receive a strong business education and build the tools necessary to become leaders in business,” Dambrot said.

He will be the first recipient of the Outstanding Alumnus Award.

Wise, senior vice president of Susquehanna Bancshares, is former chair of the OOE Advisory Board and has been a member since 2006. Wise will be presented with the Fischer Award of Distinction. The annual award recognizes a volunteer’s extraordinary service to OOE.

“My Penn State education made a huge difference in my life and is still paying dividends today,” Wise said. “Couple that with watching the work OOE does to change the lives of so many people for the better and it was an easy decision to get involved.”

According to Butler, the award is the oldest of the three being bestowed, first given at the inaugural appreciation event in 2008. It was named for its first recipient, Rich Fisher.