Our “Campus Highlight” series allows us to share posts about Penn State campuses, straight from the campuses themselves. In each post, staff and students from the campus answer a few provided questions, so you can learn about what makes each of Penn State’s campuses unique and read information about them that you might not find anywhere else! Next up, Penn State Greater Allegheny and Lou Anne Caligiuri, the
Director of Admissions and Financial Aid .
Penn State Greater Allegheny
This I believe … if you want a richer, more reflective experience, it is always to better to get input from more people than fewer people, and from people whose experiences are different than your own. With this in mind, we approached our Greater Allegheny post as a compilation of experiences and sentiments from many different folks on our campus. In fact, we sought input at a recent Town Meeting, one of those GA-unique events designed to bring different campus constituencies together on a regular basis. Hopefully, our post will offer a sense of varied experiences and opinions about Greater Allegheny, so you feel you know us just a little better.
What are some of the unique academic and/or research opportunities at Greater Allegheny?
Dr. Margaret Signorella, director of academic affairs and professor of psychology and women’s studies, is proud of Greater Allegheny’s strong tradition of engaging students in research and creative activities. Every semester we have a student research conference, where students display their work to the entire campus in a poster session meant to prepare them for the same type of experience at professional conferences. Here are some of the highlights Dr. Signorella chose to share:
- Dr. Eric Lipsky, assistant professor of mechanical engineering, has students working on a biodiesel fuel project on campus that is teaching students about sustainability, as well as involving them in an applied engineering project.
- Dr. Zhibo Chen, professor of mathematics, has long involved students in research, and more than one student has co-authored a paper with him.
- Dr. Elizabeth Mazur, associate professor of psychology, and I have both worked with psychology students on research projects that have been presented at regional and national conferences and published in journals.
- Once a year the campus literary magazine, ABSENCE, is unveiled and the contributors read selections to the gathering. The magazine’s adviser, Dr. Clifford Manlove, provides opportunities for students to learn about publishing through the production of ABSENCE.
What is your favorite place on campus, and why?
This one was a bit eye opening for me. I learned about some new spots to explore, and I discovered some different reasons our students, faculty, and staff loved the old familiar ones. For me, it is the “Big Tree” between Crawford Building and the Student Community Center (SCC) – I love experiencing the changing of the seasons. It is also a physical representation of strength and history of our campus. I also enjoy the long walk down the hill (from the residence hall) because you can see all of the campus!
The Student Community Center (SCC) is the single most popular response for a favorite spot on campus, with a variety of reasons and locations within the center:
- The SCC because it is where all the students hang out.
- The SCC because you never know who you are going to run into there!
- The patio attached to the SCC because when the umbrellas come out you know spring is on the way.
- The SCC – it has a great setup.
- The SCC when it gets transformed into a hot night spot for our scholarship fundraiser, All That’s Jazz!
- If you want your thumb on the pulse of student life, this is the place to be.
The Wunderly Gymnasium and the Fitness and Cultural Center (FCC) are two other top spots. As one person said about the FCC, “it’s full of positive energy and it’s a great place to get away!” Someone else stated that you can go to the FCC to do something for yourself; others shared that sentiment, saying they “enjoy a good work out” and that you can “get fit” by visiting there. The FCC theatre space is also popular because we make folklore studied through the Teaching International program come to life there.
Wunderly Gymnasium is a part of some of the most historical events that have taken place on campus. Both President Obama and President Clinton appeared on stage at the Wunderly and, not too long ago, Wunderly also served as a venue for honoring World War Veterans.
The newly remodeled Frable Building was cited as being “full of energy” and as a place where the “one-stop shopping” approach is available to students. They can find academic affairs, admissions, the bursar’s office, and student aid in this building, and it provides them with a lot of support to accomplish all those little tasks necessary for students.
And finally … the Lion Shrine, of course!
Please share a unique historical aspect of or a fun fact about Greater Allegheny.
Knowing the history of the campus can be fun. Dottie Ikach, campus alumna and former director of public relations, wrote about the early history of the campus:
Campus had an all-male student body. The students had crew cuts or neatly trimmed hair styles with no hair below collars. Their shirt pockets were nestled with plastic liners that held an assortment of pens and pencils, and they wore T-shirts under long-sleeved plaid shirts, not as outerwear. And, ubiquitous slide rules proudly tucked through belts, which denoted their personal identification as engineers.
That general description typified Penn State McKeesport (now Penn State Greater Allegheny) students in 1957, the year the first classroom building opened at the campus’ present location. A review of the 1957 Centaur Yearbook reveals page after page of male faces.
On a sunny day, the campus is a beautiful sight, full of nature. Imagine small animals and church bells ringing in your backyard. The campus is adjacent to Renziehausen Park, a 258 acre city park with a rose garden and arboretum. Campus is also near the Greater Allegheny Passage, which offers a hiking and biking trail connecting Washington D.C. to Pittsburgh and points beyond:
For me, Penn State Greater Allegheny’s close proximity to Pittsburgh is a real bonus. As Penn State’s closest campus to the city, our campus is less than 15 miles (24 kilometers) away. Pittsburgh has been named as “Best in the World: One of the Top 20 Places to Visit” in 2012 by National Geographic Magazine.
What is the favorite hang out of students? What is their favorite off-campus activity?
Glenn Beech, director of student affairs, suggests that you just walk into the Concourse area of the Student Community Center and you will know. This vantage point allows everyone to meet and greet other students as they walk through the building.
It also overlooks a parking lot and gives people a sense for who is coming and going. You will see small group study teams, friends socializing over a cappuccino, and even people who are just trying to recharge before their next class.
As Penn State’s closest campus to Pittsburgh, there are a lot of opportunities in the region. Students love to take advantage of the on-campus shuttle to get to some of their favorite shopping areas like the Waterfront and Southside Works, as well as a variety of entertainment and cultural venues.
What activities are students involved in at Greater Allegheny? What are some of the highlights of the organizations?
An annual spring event that is always popular is the “Celebration of the Arts: A Reading and Reception,” which is hosted by the staff of Absence Literary and Visual Art Review. The event features the best literary and visual art produced by members of the campus community during the past year, theatre and music performances, and prize announcements.
Another favorite event occurs when students from Greater Allegheny come together to work with students from other Penn State regional campuses for a good cause. The annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service brings students from five of the western Penn State campuses to one location to provide service to the community.
THON, THON, THON: Bring a group of Penn State students together on this campus (or any other) and they will tell you that they love “canning for THON” because they are making a difference in the lives of children by supporting Penn State’s annual Dance Marathon. THON supports children with pediatric cancer and their families. In addition to THON, students are also very engaged in the typical range of activities like the Student Government, Campus Activities Board, the Black Student Union, the Environmental Club, the radio station, as well as honorary and professional organizations.
And lastly, intercollegiate, intramural, and recreational sports, as well as fitness activities rank high on the list of activities that claim the time of Greater Allegheny students.
Who do you consider a “Campus Face to Know” and why?
Start with Curtiss E. Porter, Ph.D., chancellor of Penn State Greater Allegheny, and then go from there. The campus is full of interesting students, faculty, and staff who make things happen for and with students!
Dr. Porter started his Penn State career as a first-year student here. This history gives him a special connection to our new students who will share this experience. He believes in challenging students to do and be their best; this can be seen in his work as a classroom faculty member. Sign up for his course and you will be sure to have a new perspective on life and your role in the community.
Another former student turned staff member who is a “campus face to know” is Amanda Maksin: admissions counselor, softball coach, newspaper adviser, and co-adviser to the Lion Ambassadors. Amanda has also been an instructor in the communications program and an academic adviser. Amanda, her mother, and her three sisters have all attended Penn State and know what it means to “bleed blue and white.” It’s a family affair with the Maksins!
Thank you Penn State Greater Allegheny!