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Spanier’s Contract Extended Through 2015

As reported earlier, the Penn State Board of Trustees has given Graham Spanier a three-year extension on his contract; he will be Penn State president through 2015. When the new contract takes effect July 1, President Spanier will also be receiving a raise on his annual salary from $620,000 to an even $700,000. The increase itself ($80,000) and the new salary are a significant pile of change, but considering Spanier’s accomplishments and the advances Penn State has accrued under him, it seems warranted.

The agreement will increase Spanier’s tenure to 20 years, making it one of the longest terms for a university president in the country—few extend back beyond the 21st century. In the context of Penn State itself, these 20 years from 1995-2015 will be the second-longest term in Penn State history to George Atherton’s 26; Spanier will share his spot on the leaderboard with Ralph Hetzel (1927-1947, and he has a street named after him). We generally don’t think of history in our own time; we think it as part of the past. However, here and now, Spanier’s reign is a historic one that has shaped and continues to shape the University; a formative period 150 years after its founding.

Put aside numbers for a second and just think about when you walk around campus. The Life Sciences Building, the Millennium Science Complex, the HUB, the Business Building, the Schreyer Honors College, the School of International Affairs, and the College of IST were all Spanierific additions to Penn State. It’s not all brick buildings from the Atherton and Hetzel days; Spanier has made a different mark on the campus, and literally, Penn State would not look or be the same without him.

Now for some numbers. According to Penn State Live,

Since 1995, when Spanier came on board, research expenditures have more than doubled from $344 million to more than $765 million last year, and the University’s endowment has grown from $364 million to $1.4 billion. […] Penn State’s last successful capital campaign, overseen by Spanier and completed in 2003, garnered nearly $1.4 billion for the University. During his tenure, student scholarships at Penn State have increased from $15.7 million distributed to 6,148 recipients in 1995 to $61.3 million provided to 16,871 students in 2009.

While tuition has ballooned from 1995 from $5,188 per year (in-state) to an average of $14,696 in 2008, look at what’s come from it. Of course, tuition increases don’t always arise for good reasons, but Spanier’s Penn State has continued to put out at a high level, and tuition increases for that caliber of effort can be understood.

However, it appears that we will be heading down that same energetic path, especially with the $2 billion capital campaign in progress. President Spanier will be around for a year after the campaign’s conclusion, to see what it brings about. After receiving his new contract, the president has vowed to give us his “absolute best,” and given his track record, that’s a pretty good guarantee.

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About the Author

Dan McCool

Dan is a senior and has been writing for Onward State since January 2010. Did you miss him? Nah, neither did we. He's returning after a semester abroad in England and will be serving as Arts Editor. Favorite things in life include references to The Big Lebowski.

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