I came to work for Penn State in January 1989, shortly after earning the MS in Cartography at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. My original role was to guide the Department of Geography’s cartographic design lab from its traditional methods of pens, scribers, light tables, and darkrooms to then-new technology of illustration software on desktop computers.

Another role was to design, edit and publish a new journal called Cartographic Perspectives for the North American Cartographic Information Society (NACIS). I’m proud that CP continues to thrive.

In 1995 we caught a special break when Geosystems Inc. (formerly R.R. Donnelley & Sons, later MapQuest) invited us to collaborate on a map animation project. Together we produced 15 “map movies” like this one for the Grolier New Multimedia Encyclopedia. In those days digital encyclopedias were still published on CD (Wikipedia didn’t appear until 2001). That initial foray into multimedia design led directly to our work with Penn State’s World Campus beginning in 1998.

It was my great privilege to lead the Penn State Online certificate and masters degree programs in GIS, and to serve as founding director of the John A. Dutton e-Education Institute.

David DiBiase 2007

In my heyday, 2007. Photo by Eric Spielvogel.

The online certificate program launched in 1999 with just four courses. It earned Esri’s Special Achievement in GIS award in 2004, the same year that the program expanded to a full-fledged professional masters degree, which in turn earned the Sloan-C Consortium’s award for Most Outstanding Online Program in 2009. As of 2014, over 2,000 individuals have earned the Penn State certificate, and over 200 have earned the masters degree. Penn State’s portfolio of online geospatial programs continues to thrive under the leadership of my successor, Anthony Robinson.

Meanwhile, the Dutton Institute now offers nine undergraduate and graduate degree programs and more than 100 online courses serving nearly 6,000 undergraduates on campus and some 1,250 adult professionals worldwide. My protégé (if I may call her that) Ann Taylor has led the Institute with skill, boundless energy and good humor since I moved on in 2011. One of my proudest accomplishments in my time as director was to establish Penn State’s first Open Educational Resources initiative. I’m proud to continue to work with the Institute as a part-time Assistant Teaching Professor in the GIS Certificate and Masters programs. I developed and co-teach GEOG 482: Making Maps that Matter with GIS. I also serve as a member of the MGIS program advisory board.

My 2010 Tussey Mountainback team "Built for Comfort" including Alan and Kristin Taylor, Denice Wardrop, and Mark Wherley.

At the finish line with my 2010 Tussey Mountainback team “Built for Comfort,” including Alan and Kristin Taylor, Denice Wardrop, and Mark Wherley.

When I return to State College for annual advisory board meetings I always make time to run a portion of the 50-mile Tussey Mountainback race route. The photo shows the relay team I ran with in 2010. The race was a highlight of every year, and training for it on the hilly fire roads of Rothrock State Forest was sublime (if humbling).




Breezewood Honeymoon playing Kyle Peck's Halloween house party in 2007.

Breezewood Honeymoon playing Kyle Peck’s Halloween house party in 2007. Left to right: Joel Blunk, Mark Gahegan, Greg Elliot, and Dave. We called ourselves the “most popular all-boy Indigo Girls cover band in south central Pennsylvania.”

Another joy of my years in State College was the band Breezewood Honeymoon, which Geography colleague Mark Gahegan and I started and later included Joel Blunk and drummer Greg Elliott. We practiced almost every Thursday night for years, and played out occasionally at house parties (like the one shown here) and community events like First Night and the Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts. If you haven’t been to Breezewood and don’t get the irony of the band’s name, consider having your honeymoon here.



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