There’s today to think about, and there’s also tomorrow

Ralph Ford, Chancellor of Penn State Behrend

Ralph Ford, Chancellor of Penn State Behrend

Credit: Penn State Behrend

When Mary Behrend made the decision to give Glenhill Farm to Penn State, she must have had a sense of the potential that existed for transforming her family’s country estate into a unique place of learning within one of the country’s foremost public universities.

Nearly seventy years later, we continue to fulfill—and expand on—her vision for Penn State Behrend. We do that by focusing on the work to be done today but with an eye on our prospects for tomorrow.

Right now, we have three terrific opportunities to prepare for the future: an approved strategic plan for the college, a campus master plan nearing completion, and the beginnings of a plan to guide our philanthropic activities.

Our strategic plan revolves around transformative strategies that include the development of interdisciplinary undergraduate programs; the introduction of new master’s degrees; and the expansion of our open-laboratory model of research and development that involves students, faculty, and business and industry partners innovating in teams. The plan emphasizes student success: It’s critically important that we give students the resources and support to achieve both in and outside of the classroom, to stay in school, to graduate on time, and to pursue meaningful careers—all of which are also key to maximizing the value of their tuition dollars.

And how will our campus need to grow and change to meet our strategic imperatives? We’re working to answer that question with a campus master plan that envisions the infrastructure, facilities, and layout necessary to serve a target enrollment of 5,500 students (an increase of about 1,000 over our current enrollment). In accommodating growth, this master plan also addresses pedestrian and traffic flow, preserving the aesthetics of campus, and promoting sustainability.

Planning for philanthropic support is the third aspect of preparing for our future in the present. The support of alumni, friends, companies, foundations and others is key to improving the affordability of a Penn State education through student scholarships; elevating institutional excellence with endowed professorships and advanced classroom and lab technologies; and building global perspectives in our students through curriculum, research, and study abroad experiences.

With each of these planning efforts, there is always opportunity for input and refinement. If you have thoughts and ideas that might help shape the future of Penn State Behrend, I encourage you to share them with me.

Dr. Ralph Ford, Chancellor