Vicky Triponey, the university's vice president for Student Affairs, resigned yesterday afternoon, effective immediately.
After four years at Penn State, Triponey released a statement yesterday to Student Affairs staff and the Cabinet of Student Leaders, citing a need to "recharge" and "take a much needed (and hope-fully well deserved!) sabbatical."
Penn State President Graham Spanier said her hiatus is permanent, and Triponey does not plan to return.
"It's final," he said. "She stepped down from her position."
Triponey was not available for comment.
"She's not going to be talking to people for a while," her husband said last night.
Gail Hurley, associate vice president of auxiliary and business services, has been named Triponey's interim replacement. She will continue to serve in her previous position as well.
"[Hurley] has worked in that field for many years here," said Bill Mahon, Penn State spokesman. "She knows a lot about student affairs. She has a great reputation. It was an easy decision to make."
After the recent departures of Michael Gilbert and Felicia McGinty, former associate vice presidents of student affairs, Triponey's resignation leaves yet another void for Student Affairs to fill.
"You know, there's some key openings in Student Affairs," Mahon said. "There are a number of staff underneath the vice president. There's a lot of work to do. That'll come in due time."
Mahon said there is currently no timeline for a permanent replacement; however, the university "always seeks student voices" in the process.
In April 2004, Triponey initiated the "Return to Glory: Greek Pride Initiative," which established a code of ethics and detailed procedures of recognizing achievements of greek members in an attempt to end separation between the university and the greek community.
She also chose students for the Funding Allocation Board (FAB), formed in March 2006, so members could make suggestions to Triponey about student activity fee distribution. FAB completed its first allocation of $2.8 million to student activities this week.
Additionally, she, along with Spanier, announced the replacement of the Undergraduate Student Government with the University Park Undergraduate Association in April 2006, revamping the 45-year-old government into a "student advocacy."
Further, in her time at Penn State, Triponey told The Lion 90.7 FM, a student-run radio station, to hire a Student Affairs adviser in January if it wanted to receive funding from the university. This was an action she was highly criticized for by Safeguard Old State (SOS), a student advocacy group that recently gained club status. SOS's Web site hosts anti-Triponey blogs, including "The Triponey Watch" and "The Vicky Triponey Timeline of Terror."
Mahon said it is "ludicrous" to believe that these criticisms contributed to her stepping down.
"We haven't even heard of Safeguard Old State," he said. "They are in no way responsible."
When Spanier sent an e-mail to the Board of Trustees yesterday, many members said they were surprised by the abrupt announcement.
"It seems rather sudden," trustee Lloyd Huck said. "Whether she found the job difficult or was just having problems, she couldn't continue."
The Board of Trustees met last Friday, but Huck said Triponey's resignation was not a topic of discussion at the public meeting or the "not public" pre-meeting where "trustees review issues on which they don't take action."
He added that the only time he remembers discussing the Office of Student Affairs was at the review of Judicial Affairs. The created task force revised policies for high profile, off-campus discipline issues.
"Suggestions were made by a committee to convene about Judicial Affairs, make improvements and put together a group of people to come up with some recommendations about changing the process there," trustee Paul Suhey said. "I don't see how that would force someone to resign."
Huck said it is his understanding that Triponey will continue to be paid until the end of the fiscal year, which ends in June.
"The notice I received said 'sabbatical,' " he said. "If you're on sabbatical, then you get partial pay. Beyond that, she gets nothing."
Mahon added that the university "doesn't discuss personal matters like pay in detail."
In the 1980s, Triponey worked as an adviser for a student radio station at Georgia State University. Prior to coming to Penn State, she worked as chancellor for Student Affairs at the University of Connecticut. The school's student newspaper, The Daily Campus, reported that a study group organized by Triponey monitored its operational procedures.
Citing her experience, some trustees said they're sad to see Triponey's term come to an end.
"I think she was just ready [to leave]. She'd been in the business for close to 30 years now," said James Broadhurst, president of the Board of Trustees. "She served us very well, and we're sorry to see her go."