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Penn State Center for the Study of Terrorism Closing

The International Center for the Study of Terrorism at Penn State announced Monday that it will close on June 30, with director John Horgan and some researchers moving to the University of Massachusetts Lowell to continue its work. This may put undergrads majoring in security and risk analysis in a bind as some of its highest profile professors leave.

“The official line would be these opportunities arose, but the truth of the matter is that I didn’t see this coming,” said Dr. Mia Bloom, an associate professor of international studies and women’s studies.

Dr. Horgan, an author of more than 60 publications, said in an email that he does not know if Penn State will revive the center in some form, but said he will miss his home of seven years.

Since 2006, the center has nationally led the study of the “social and behavioral aspects of terrorism,” including how terrorists are radicalized and recruited, according to its website. Researchers have criticized the Obama Administration’s use of drone strikes in the Middle East, as well as Israeli counterterrorism strategies. Horgan has also accumulated millions in grant money, which will follow him, Bloom, and others to Massachusetts later in the summer.

Reasons for Bloom’s departure include her lack of access to graduate students and no academic department, she said. She emphasized that the move was not motivated by money and that students would unfortunately be hurt the most.

Former Penn State president Graham Spanier made the center a focus, Bloom said, actively recruiting faculty from around the country. If Spanier were president today, things might be different. But, the closing of ICST preceded the departure of several other prominent researchers, including Quan Li, who left for Texas A&M in 2008.

“[President Spanier] was a staunch supporter and although recent events have complicated matters, he remains the main reason I came to Penn State,” said Bloom. “He was a visionary who could make things happen and the success I have had here is in no small part because of him.”

The center declared its intentions to leave Penn State on its website, Twitter, and Facebook on Monday. On its Twitter, a statement was released, saying, “On behalf of all our friends, colleagues, sponsors, thank you. We have done good work together.”

Correction 10:17 a.m. — A previous version of this article included several statements from Dr. Bloom that were intended to be retracted before the publishing of this post. We apologize for the error.

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