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Message From The Director

Hello Alumni and Friends:

I have now passed six months on the job, and fully understand the origin of the expression “drinking from a fire hose." I have met more people on and off campus representing more organizations, associations, and agencies whose names will require multiple refreshers to commit to memory. Nevertheless, these interactions have convinced me that representing our School to our numerous stakeholders and cooperators is one of the best parts of my job. The Penn State faculty and staff I have met, even if they are not alums, share a pride in our great university that shows in everything they do. Off campus, the many School alums I have met demonstrate a deep commitment to the well-being of our programs. I refer here to more than just casual questions I get about former professors, but also to suggestions about how to improve our programs and to sincere offers to help where possible.

Something that you and I are concerned with daily is the state of our economy (and the economy of our state). As I write this, Pennsylvania still has no budget for the 2009-2010 fiscal year. Proposed budgets show that this could be a rough year for Penn State. Many campus activities are currently on hold while we await news from Harrisburg about how Penn State fares budget-wise. The impact will be felt in the School as our students face another tuition hike and we increasingly find replacement of retired faculty to be something for which we have to negotiate earnestly. But no one promised me that this job was going to be easy!

Besides wrestling with budgetary issues, we are looking forward to a brighter future through several current activities including working on our five-year strategic plan and preparing to launch a search for the next Goddard Chair. These issues help us maintain our optimism despite the economy. One thing that seems to have not waned even in these challenging times is the support of our alumni. I am continuously awed by the aforementioned engagement of our alums, and it reaffirms my decision to accept the position of director of the School.

On a more personal note, my Texas wife, a high school teacher who wanted to finish out the school year there, has now joined me in Pennsylvania and has remarked frequently about the cool summer here. But neither of us is going to miss those five-month Texas summers!

Please stay in touch.

Warmest regards,

Mike Messina