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[Live Blog]: State Of State 2016 Conference

The third annual State of State conference will bring together community leaders and thinkers for a day of discussion about Penn State issues to create dialogue about the present and future of our university. It all starts this morning at 10:00 a.m. in Alumni Hall. Follow along with our live blog below.

If you can’t make the conference you can watch the live stream:

Live Blog

3:25 p.m. That’s all from another great State of State conference. If you couldn’t make the conference all the speaker videos will be uploaded online.

3:13 p.m. “Inclusivity and diversity initiatives are generally focused on quantifiable measures and outcomes. Their success is generally determined by the number of marginalized or different bodies that integrate spaces generally occupied by ‘normal,’ standard, or typical bodies.”

dr jeanine staples state of state

3:08 p.m. Dr. Jeanine Staples is the final speaker at today’s conference. She is speaking about untraining our biases and developing anti-racist, anti-sexist, and anti-ableist ideologies for all people. Dr. Staples is an associate professor at Penn State.

“What I wanted do is I want to talk about inclusivity and diversity initiatives, she began. “These are hot topics. They’re hot topics because they anchor marketing campaigns and policy plans for schools and society. Yet these initiatives by some estimations are not wildly successful. They’re only relatively successful, because even though we have inclusivity and diversity initiatives, we still have this happening in society.”

3:02 p.m. Gaines began his spoken word poem: “My father told me we see the world through a lens, crafting by our culture, our peers, our pain and our sins. We came up from mulch, it’s been ingrained in our skin to divide the world up into strangers, dangers, and kin. He said son, sit down. You’re getting big, you ain’t no kid now. You got to know this and focus on how you appear now. Not everyone’s going to see your intentions.”

david gaines state of state

“My father said we see the world through a lens, crafted by our culture, peers, pain, and sins. It’s been ingrained to divide the world up into strangers.”

2:58 p.m. David Gaines is the last student speaker of the conference. Gaines is double majoring in Theatre and English. He is giving a spoken word poem on strangers, dangers, and kin. He told the audience when he says “what you got” he wants everyone to respond “words.”

2:45 p.m. “I think there are people who are here at Penn State who, unfortunately, go to class and they’re the only. They go to the residents’ hall, they’re one of two or three in the hall. In their student orgs, they may be one of two or three. Somehow, they feel invisible. And people say comments to these people, make very disparaging remarks, belittle them.”

dr moses david state of state

“We don’t want to have people on this campus feeling as if they don’t matter, that they are unimportant, and they shouldn’t be here. As an employee of Penn State on the staff here, I don’t want any of you at Penn State to walk around and have something that someone said to you make you feel that you are somehow less important and you don’t deserve to be at Penn State.”

2:40 p.m. Dr. Moses Davis, the director of the multicultural resource center, took the stage next. His speech will center on the idea of “being the change” inspired by his favorite quote from Mahatma Gandhi.

2:37 p.m. “I’ve been the only girl in a group project, and the only girl in my class,” she said. “I’ve faced micro-aggression from individuals inside and outside of my college, and even from male recruiters. And unfortunately, this isn’t just happening to me. The gender gap in technology is a well-documented phenomenon.”

sylar slotter state of state

“I know that changing things here at Penn State won’t change the gender gap overall. And it’s not going to happen overnight. But I do believe that the women of Penn State can excel in technology, and that they can go on to be the women leaders in tech in the future, and inspire and empower future women to go into technology, and that those women, those women can change the statistics.”

2:35 p.m. Penn State senior Skylar Slotter took the stage next. She’s talking about the gender gap in STEM fields.

2:30 p.m. “Inclusion is the idea of encompassing all those differences and making sure they’re not only acknowledged, but respected, and considered in thoughts and decisions made at the university, and at any other level of discussion.”

ramon guzman jr. state of state

2:25 p.m. Ramon Guzman, Jr. is kicking off the last set on inclusivity and identity. “I hung up the phone, finished a conversation with my mother and my friend said, ‘that was so cool,'” he began. “I said, ‘What happened?’ ‘You’re black, but you speak Spanish.'”

2:05 p.m. Those in attendance are taking engaging in another breakout discussion before the inclusivity and identity portion of the conference.

1:53 p.m. Dr. Jacqueline Edmondson is the last speaker in the value of your degree set. “I have to admit that I sometimes get frustrated by the prevailing neoliberal rhetoric that talks about the importance of education for jobs and the economy,” she began “Don’t get me wrong — I think jobs and the economy are very important, and a necessary part of our lives. I worry those conversations narrow our conceptualization of education in ways that really misses the point.”

dr jacqueline edmondson state of state

1:50 p.m. “So my call to action is this. Administrators, staff, and faculty, don’t forget the part you play in unifying this university. And don’t forget the amount of resources students have across the entire commonwealth of Pennsylvania.”

1:46 p.m. “For many students, these campuses are important to them, and they become their second home,” she began. “My Penn State Abington education has allowed me to apply to Ph.D. programs, competing on the same playing field as people from University Park, other big universities, and even Ivy Leagues.”

melissa aguilar state of state

1:42 p.m. Melissa Aguilar took the stage next. She is a proud commonwealth student who is speaking about the value of a degree from a commonwealth campus. “Is a grade in a course which leads to a degree less or more important than the knowledge which leads to an education? That quote is one of my favorites, so in true State of State fashion, lets apply it to Penn State.”

1:40 p.m. “Understand that is a cycle of wealth that we are creating, because only the people that have the money to go to college will be able to get ahead. Rather than attracting the best and the brightest, that can come from any single ZIP code. So we have to get our priorities straight, because we are a family, and we are a service.”

ryan valencia presentation state of state

1:35 p.m. Ryan Valencia is up next. He is a senior double majoring in History and International Politics. Valencia is also the an At-Large Representative on UPUA, the Chair of the governmental affairs committee, and the President of the Penn State College Democrats. “I’m talking today about access and affordability in terms of our land grant mission,” he began.

ryan valencia state of state

1:30 p.m. “So here’s my pitch,” Barron said. “We provide high-quality education, top 1 percent in the world. We’re a highly ranked public university. And we do it on less dollars than our peers have. And unfortunately, that’s a small state appropriation and a large tuition number. We have an obligation to you to ensure a very high quality for your degree.”

1:22 p.m. President Barron is going over the university’s budget and its relationship with tuition. “As a consequence, this number in tuition and fees has gone up, plus there’s inflation, and several other factors there,” he said. “The interesting thing also is that we have the lowest state appropriation — we have a below-average amount of money we get to spend on you and your education, but yet we’re in the top quarter of the ranking within the Big Ten.” Here’s the pie chart he showed the audience:

total institutional budget state of state

1:15 p.m. And we’re back! President Eric Barron is kicking off the value of your degree set. “Here’s the question, how do we balance quality of education with cost,” he began.

president dr eric barron state of state

12:05 p.m. The audience is engaging in another breakout discussion after the tradition and change set. Following the discussion we’re taking a 45-minute lunch break here in Alumni Hall. We’ll be back for more at 1:15 p.m.

11:55 a.m. “So what’s the bottom line? The bottom line is that traditions have a history. And from knowledge of these histories, we learn that traditions change over time. Traditions emerge and they change over time just as Pattee foresaw with our Alma Mater more than a century ago.”

11:48 a.m. Dr. Nicholas Rowland took the stage next to conclude the tradition and change set. Dr. Rowland is an associate professor of sociology and science and technology studies. He began by giving a brief history of the alma mater and pointed out it never refers to the university as Penn State, only State.

dr nicholas rowland state of state

11:44 a.m. “We have a wonderful tradition and excellence in our academics, bur we need to make sure we’re reaching out in multiple ways because it’s impossible for students to study come they’re worried about racial or homophobic threats, when they have been sexually assaulted or harassed, when they have been discriminated against because of their physical ability.”

abigail kennedy state of state

“Providing that excellent Penn State education is no longer just a matter of sheer academic skill. It is a matter of making sure we are in touch with our world because we’re in a global community. It is not just an advantage to understand people. It is a necessity for our graduates.”

11:40 a.m. Abigail Kennedy, a junior majoring in English and secondary education, took the stage next. She began by saying there is a lack of cultural understanding that we can fix. She suggested changing our freshman English curriculum to be more inclusive and make students more aware of diversity issues.

11:38 a.m. “We are Penn State. We’re one of the greatest universities,” he concluded.

11:30 a.m. Darian Somers, who also works for The Daily Collegian, took the stage next. He began by asking “who likes their name?” “Well I know  a name people don’t like, this one,” he said as he put a picture of Nittanyville’s logo on the screen. Somers is the president of Nittanyville.

darian somers state of state

11:25 a.m. “I like to use what icall the CEC test, civility, empathy, and compromise. If I can pass these tests, then the tradition may be a pretty good one,” he said. Wwe live in an age of rage. We live in the social media world where we’re critics without credentials who hide behind their smartphones and computers. They can be hateful and spiteful and want to be angry about everything. How do we combat that? How do we go about fixing that challenge? I believe it is through common courtesy and mutual respect. We have to be able to follow the golden rule. Treat others as you want to be treated.”

“It is all about honoring the past, celebrating the present and let’s roar into the future.”

11:18 a.m. Joe Battista, a 1983 grad and former captain and coach of the men’s hockey team, started off the tradition and change set. He began his speech with an obligatory “We Are” chant.

joe battista state of state

10:58 a.m. That concludes the student involvement set. With that, the people present are taking a 20-minute discussion break before the tradition and change set.

10:51 a.m. “You can see all the populations here at Penn State,” he began. “You have student government, arts, academics, Greek life, and they all connect through students who are engaging with other students of diverse organizational backgrounds. And that makes Penn State so incredibly great. The thing about this picture in reality, is we don’t see it as perfect as it is. There are tears. There are holes. There are organizations that are fading and some that don’t even exist at all.”

10:46 a.m. John Connolly is the final speaker in the student involvement category. He is the founder of the Performing Arts Council and a senior in the Schreyer Honors College majoring in Chemical Engineering. He will speak on student culture through engagement.

john connolly

10:44 a.m. “Philanthropy and community service coincide with one another, but they’re completely different,” she explained. “There’s a misconception not just on campus, but in general that they’re the same.”

“They go hand in one with one another. You can’t have one without the other. You have students that get involved with just the philanthropy or just the student organization, which is great, but they don’t understand the difference and they think that one is better than the other when they’re not.”

10:40 a.m. Penn State senior Taylor Sweeney is the first student speaker at today’s conference. She is working towards a degree in Architectural Engineering and is the Executive Director of Students Engaging Students.

taylor sweeney state of state

10:27 a.m. Jen Grossman Leopard, who obtained her Master’s in College Student Affairs from Penn State, spoke first in the Student Involvement category. Leopard currently works as the Assistant Director for Student Organizations and is working towards her doctoral degree in Higher Education.

Leopard spoke on student organizations, and why she thinks more than 1,000 orgs is too many. “You ask why. There are a lot of reasons. Two that I will highlight here with you today are resources and how it’s not sustainable.”

jen grossman leopard

10:21 a.m. Following Dr. Russell’s opening remarks, everyone in the room took a five minute break to get to know the people at their table. Part of State of State’s goal is to ignite conversation in the community, and each table will take time throughout the day to break out into conversation.

10:10 a.m. Dr. Susan Russell is the first speaker of today. After introducing herself, she said “If we today decide in this room to come to a collective intention about how we are going to be today, that will be miles ahead of this moment. All you have to do to be intentional is figure out what it is you are thinking in this moment.”

She told the audience after working with students for so long she has learned six questions to always ask herself:  I am, I know, I want, I believe, I dream, and I need. “I dream about a moment when people will look at each other and see each other and want to talk to each. So that they can truly hear each other.”

dr susan russel

10:05 a.m. The conference is underway with Executive Director Tess Hamsher giving opening remarks. “At State of State, we like to bring together passionate change makers.”

10:00 a.m. The third State of State Conference should begin any minute here in Alumni Hall. Follow along all day through 4:30 today as we hear from speakers from all parts of the university. Here are the first, second, and third round of speakers for the day. Aaron Kreider is emceeing today’s conference.

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