Everyone chooses his or her college based on different reasons.
Some might have chose Penn State because of Joe Paterno. Others might have chosen it for its engineering, or maybe because of THON. Then some chose it for Malcolm Moran, a name that has become synonymous with Penn State’s sports journalism program since 2006.
On Monday, Moran, Knight Chair in Sports Journalism and Society at Penn State, announced he is leaving Penn State at the conclusion of the fall semester to continue his career at Indiana University.
At Indiana, Moran will be the school’s new National Sports Journalism Center director. He will oversee programming at the recently launched School of Journalism center.
In a phone interview Monday, Moran said personal and professional factors weighed heavily on his decision to make the switch.
While Moran graduated from Fordham, Indiana holds a lot of special memories. Besides being his wife’s alma mater, Bloomington was also the site of his wedding and is close to the residence of his wife’s parents.
“They’re the only grandparents that our children, our 15-year-old twins, have known. So there were a lot of ties along those lines,” Moran said. “That was really part of the initial interest when the job came open.”
One major difference that Indiana offers compared to Penn State lies within Indiana’s value of its graduate program based in Indianapolis.
The program offers another avenue for students experienced in the field to go back to school in order to improve their standing in the industry, Moran said.
Back at Penn State, Moran’s departure will certainly be felt where he has worked for during the past six years.
“I don’t think anybody can really replace Malcolm,” said Dean of College of Communications Doug Anderson. “But we are going to find the best possible successor to Malcolm that we can.”
Moran stood out in the Penn State community by fostering relationships with many students.
“He takes time to have these relationships with so many students within the College of Communications,” Penn State athletics communications assistant Greg Kincaid said. “If you needed the time with Malcolm, he would give it to you. At a big school like this, you don’t come across many people like that.”
“He made this huge school feel small,” Kincaid added.
Knowing he wanted to get into the sports communications, Kincaid reached out to Moran for a visit during his senior year of high school. Moran did not hesitate to give time to Kincaid.
An example of Moran’s kindness is how he reached out to Kincaid on the day he arrived at Penn State.
He took Kincaid, his family and five other students out to lunch at the Nittany Lion Inn to make them feel welcome, Kincaid recalled.
“From that very day, he has always reached out to me… He was a teacher, a mentor… he has really meant a lot,” said Kincaid.
Yet, Moran influenced far more students than just Kincaid. One of the many others is former Collegian sports writer, and now Harrisburg Patriot-News writer, Audrey Snyder.
Snyder first met Moran on a visit during her senior year of high school.
“He took the entire day to show me the campus and explained the program to me,” Snyder said. “Honestly, if he wouldn’t have done that, I don’t think I would have gone to Penn State.”
Moran opened several doors for Snyder. He took her to New Orleans to cover the 2012 Final Four and to her biggest surprise, the Olympics this past summer in London.
“My favorite memory was when he told us that we were going to London,” Snyder said. “He called the four of us [and] said ‘Oh, I want you guys to meet me at the Nittany Lion Inn to go over a future potential opportunity.’ We are sitting here thinking, ‘Okay, maybe it’s some type of internship.’”
When Moran broke the news that they would go to London to cover the Olympics for the Curley Center, they were in disbelief, Snyder said.
That’s what Moran brought to the College of Communications — exclusive experiences and a database of contacts.
“I’m sure Penn State will do a good job of finding someone to replace Malcolm’s position, but at the same time, that’s a really, really tough act to follow,” Snyder said.
Anderson said he has no formulated timetable for Moran’s replacement, but it will be done as quickly as possible and will be somebody from outside Penn State.
No matter who comes in, Moran definitely left big shoes to fill.
“Anytime somebody works as well with students as Malcolm clearly has through the years, we can only hope that his successor over time will be able to nurture the same kind of relationships,” Anderson said.
Moran might be gone, but he hopes to still continue ties with the College of Communications, such as collaborating on research projects.
And to all those relationships he has developed with students over the years, those will not change.
“One of the things that I have gotten in the habit of telling students at commencement… this is the first mile of a 50,000-mile warranty,” Moran said. “I’m going to keep bugging you about whatever I should be bugging you about it. That’s not going to change. The only thing that’s going to change is the phone number or maybe the email address.
“Beyond that, those relationships are going to keep going, and they are going to be just as strong as I was sitting in the same office a few years from now.”