In his report Friday in Scranton, Penn State University President Rodney Erickson described the different efforts the university is undertaking to make its administration work better and be more transparent.
Erickson said that though it will take time to fully review the long report Judge Louis Freeh released yesterday on certain Penn State officials' failure to act after they became aware of Jerry Sandusky abusing children, the university has developed a series of immediate steps to help it move forward.
Karen Peetz, chairwoman of the board, has directed individual committees comprising members of the board to review sections of the report's recommendations that apply to their specific responsibilities and turn these recommendations into action plans, according to Erickson.
Erickson has also appointed a team himself to coordinate changes suggested in the Freeh report. The group is includes vice president for administration Tom Poole, senior vice president for Finance and Business David Gray and vice president and general council Stephen Dunham.
This group will report directly to Erickson, and the trustees will implement the plans made.
Certain direct actions already have been taken for the university to move forward, Erickson said, including strengthening policies and programs with minors, having employees complete mandated reporter training, ensuring prompt reporting of suspected child abuse and hiring a new Clery Compliance Coordinator.
Erickson also said the university is committed to building awareness of the social issue of child sexual abuse beyond the university. Erickson said the university is doing this by doing things such as creating a Presidential Task Force on Child Maltreatment and partnering with the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape and the National Sexual Violence Resource Center to extend the reach of their programs.
Penn State has also donated $2.6 million to abuse prevention efforts since November 2011. Penn State has also arranged counseling services for the the people referred to as "Victims" in the Sandusky case.
Erickson also said that he will be serving on Gov. Tom Corbett's Governor's Advisory Commission for Postsecondary Education to maintain a "robust and responsive postsecondary education system in the Commonwealth for the 21 century."
Erickson said the university hopes to build on its educational record, citing certain facts such as Pennsylvania being the number one state for attracting out-of-state college students and having three of the top-20 research universities in the country.
Applications to all Penn State campuses are approaching 120,000, about 1,000 ahead of last year, according to Erickson. Erickson also said that about 4,000 students will be transferring to Penn State from other institutions this fall semester.
Erickson also commented on the research enterprise of the university, which he said was strong, with new awards for research given to the university are more than $769 million, an 11 percent increase from last year. Erickson also said that U.S. News & World Report ranked Penn State Hershey Children's Hospital in the nation's best in the specialties of orthopedics, cancer and endocrinology.
According to Erickson's report, a total of 19 students from Penn State will compete in the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, representing countries including the US, Great Britain, Israel, Mexico, Canada, Suriname and Puerto Rico.
Erickson also said at the end of his address that the board will be voting on a resolution later to rename the Life Sciences Building after Lloyd and Dottie Huck to commemorate their years of service. In the 1980s, the Hucks invested in Penn State's early biotechnology efforts, helping making it one of the most respected in the county, according to Erickson.
Erickson opened up the floor to questions after his address, with new trustee Anthony Lubrano asking what he thought the mission of Penn State was.
Erickson said the mission of Penn State has evolved over the years. Erickson said the land grant mission had two major dimensions, one being to support and develop of agricultural center and the other to provide an affordable education for students, and that this relationship has been a primary partnership that existed between the government and the university for years.
Erickson said that Penn State now needs to be a university that works for students more, and not just define students as either need-based or merit-based because there are students who are both.
After Erickson's address, Mary-Beth Krogh-Jespersen, Chancellor of Penn State Worthington Scranton campus, spoke on how the Worthington Scranton campus has increased its facilities and programs for both academics and extracurricular activities. Krogh-Jesperson commented on how the campus has new four-year degrees in science and English as well as a new master's program in nursing.
Erickson is set now to begin the operating budget for the university for the fiscal year, which began on July 1.