Alumni Message

July, 2018

Dear Friends:

Penn State has had a banner year thanks to the support and contributions of so many in the Penn State family. Our alumni, donors, and friends are central to our reputation and success, and I know you take a great deal of pride in your University. As such, I wish to share a few of the key highlights that demonstrate the power of our community.

In the 2018-19 Center for World University Rankings, Penn State was ranked 43rd among the best universities in the world for the quality of education of its students and the research prowess of its faculty. Penn State ranked No. 30 among universities in the United States. These numbers represent a significant jump for Penn State, and they are based on the strength of our world-class faculty, research enterprise, and alumni employment.

Penn State recently made national news as the No. 2 institution in the country for graduating CEOs (just behind Stanford) according to a LinkedIn study. Currently, Penn State alumni lead Fortune 500 companies including Nike, Merck, PPL, and Hanesbrands. When this study was released, I truly enjoyed the headline on which institution was a leader “and it isn’t Harvard.” It’s a credit to our alumni that Penn State is in such good company.

Meanwhile, thousands of other Penn Staters are working to start their own companies through Penn State’s 21 innovation hubs around the state. And they’re gaining national attention with new products, patents, and a pile of awards such as the $100,000 grand prize in the Cisco Global Problem Solver Challenge, won by Project Vive, a start-up that began at the Happy Valley LaunchBox, Powered by PNC Bank. College of Medicine student Olivier Noel won $100,000 on ABC’s hit reality show Shark Tank. It’s little wonder that Entrepreneur ranked State College the No. 2 Best Town to be an entrepreneur. This is all the more remarkable because a few short years ago we were not on the entrepreneurial map.

In addition to earning their 19th top-15 Learfield Directors’ Cup, Penn State student-athletes have also broken academic records. Nittany Lion students combined to post the all-time record overall grade-point average of 3.15 this past spring. A school record-tying 26 teams earned at least a 3.0 grade-point average. This accounts for 84 percent of the Nittany Lions’ 31 varsity programs. Our tradition of excellence on and off the field of play that makes us so proud continues.

We also have some extraordinary news about our campaign: A Greater Penn State for 21st Century Excellence. I’m thrilled to report that our University has achieved the strongest fundraising results in its history. Between July 1, 2017 and June 30, 2018, more than 115,000 Penn Staters committed $362.9 million to designations across every campus, college, and program. Since the campaign began on June 30, 2016, the University has raised more than $713 million, or more than 44 percent of its $1.6 billion campaign goal (please note that this campaign is only five years long in keeping with the concept of having fundraising match the timing of our strategic plan). The fundraising totals have broken several existing University records for private giving, including the record for commitments (new gifts and pledges that will be fulfilled in the future) and the longstanding record for receipts (or cash in the door). This year’s $321 million far exceeded the previous record of $274 million. While these overall numbers are impressive, the impact on students is truly transformative. From scholarships that help students graduate on time to investments in cutting-edge research to life-changing experiences, philanthropy is enhancing the Penn State experience. Thank you to everyone who has contributed to this incredible achievement.

Finally, soon we will be announcing that Penn State will have broken its all-time record for competitively-awarded research expenditures for the second year in a row. The final numbers aren’t in yet, but we already know we have set the record. We do know that Penn State was second in the nation in terms of the number of disciplines with top 10 research expenditures in science, engineering, and mathematics (we had 15). We are tied with Johns Hopkins. MIT is third. Again, Penn State is in excellent company, but it’s even nicer to know that our research is advancing health, contributing to economic development, and improving the overall quality of life for people in our communities, nation, and world.

Quality rankings, outcomes for our students, the success of our athletes, fundraising, and research – all of these measures clearly demonstrate that Penn State is humming. I am humbled by your outpouring of generosity and your affirmation of the work our students, faculty, and staff are doing every day. Our community accomplishes so much together. What inspires me is the shared pride we feel when our fellow Penn Staters accomplish their goals to make the world a better place. On behalf of Penn State, thank you. It is with your support that we are inspired to fulfill our mission as a land-grant University. We are a greater Penn State because of you.

Enjoy the rest of your summer, and I hope to see you on campus this fall.

Eric J. Barron
Penn State President