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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State hosted a special ceremony Monday evening at the Morgan Academic Center. In a gathering featuring student-athletes, administrators and Penn State faculty, Penn State celebrated its recent historic academic achievements.
Since the Morgan Academic Center opened, hanging on the far north wall in the entrance for all to see is a panel of numbers. The numbers are far from ordinary though, serving as beacon of academic success and pride. Side-by-side horizontally displayed, there's Academic All-Americans, followed by Academic All-Big Ten selections with Penn State Athletics' graduation success rate completing the display.
Come Monday, all three set of numbers were due for updates.
Last November, the NCAA reported Penn State student-athletes have a 90 percent graduation rate, which ties the Nittany Lion all-time record, marking an increase of two points from the 2015 report. Additionally, nine Nittany Lion teams earned a perfect 100 percent Graduation Success Rate, up from five teams two years ago.
For perspective, the average for all Division I institutions for students entering from 2007-08 through the 2010-11 academic year is 86 percent, placing Penn State well above the average with the Nittany Lion graduation figure seeing a one point increase in each of the past two years.
Also during the fall semester, a fall school record total 117 Nittany Lions were selected Academic All-Big Ten for earning at least a 3.0 grade-point average.
"I think that every opportunity we have to celebrate the academic efforts of our students we should do that and that's really what tonight is about," Penn State director of athletics Sandy Barbour said.
Joined by Penn State president Dr. Eric Barron, both he and Barbour took to the podium to congratulate the group of gathered student-athletes on their academic success.
Boarding a mechanical lift, Penn State CoSIDA Academic All-Americans Haleigh Washington (women's volleyball) and Zain Retherford (wrestling) flipped the far left figure to reflect a new total. Both Washington and women's soccer's Emily Ogle were selected as Academic All-Americans this fall with Washington's third consecutive honor marking Penn State's 200th selection all-time.
NCAA Faculty Representative Dennis Scanlon did the honors updating Penn State's Academic All-Big Ten total, while Barbour closed out the reveal with the graduation success rate.
Among Penn State's widely documented growing athletic success, it's also well known the emphasis Penn State places on excellence in the classroom too.
"That's the beauty of it, that as we get better and better athletically, we're also getting better academically," Barbour said. "Historically, Penn State Athletics has always been known as a place that combines high level academic achievement with high level athletic achievement and that's as true today as it's ever been."
For someone like NCAA Champion Retherford, who also won the prestigious 2017 Hodge Trophy, there's perhaps no better way to describe the combination of pursuing both academic and athletic success than in the word culture.
"Penn State is a place that not only provides you the resources, but allows you to achieve your goals," Retherford said. "I think these numbers up here are a good representation of that and I think the culture here is just that way, so it's awesome to be a part of and I'm extremely grateful for it."
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - As is tradition, Penn State's Student-Athlete Advisory Board hosted its third annual SAAB Lip Sync Battle to benefit THON at the HUB earlier this week.
A total of nine Nittany Lion teams put on a show in the Freeman Auditorium to benefit Penn State's annual 46-hour dance marathon, which kicks off February 16 in the Bryce Jordan Center.
Following a full slate of performances, a panel of esteemed guest judges featuring Penn State sports medicine's Dr. Roberta Millard, Mike Herr or better known around campus as, "Mike the Mailman" and Penn State cheerleader Francis Alvare made their selections.
Penn State's men's swimming team took home the golden microphone this year with their rendition of Flo Rida's "Low." Men's volleyball and women's volleyball finished second and third, respectively.
"We've been working on this since October," said SAAB THON chair Tess Kearns (track and field/cross country). "Teams started signing up right before winter break so that was a lot of fun seeing who was coming together and the acts they were doing."
HARRISBURG, Pa. - Penn State hit the state capitol today for an afternoon of recognition, celebrating Nittany Lion conference champion student-athletes and head coaches following a record-setting 2016-17 season both in competition and in the classroom.
Joined by select head coaches and staff members as well as student-athletes, the group toured through the Pennsylvania House and Senate, stopping in for lunch with Sen. Jake Corman in his office. Penn State then made its way to the floor of the Pennsylvania Senate before remarks from Corman, welcoming the group to the state's capitol following a few early proceedings.
Penn State then made its way to the floor of the Pennsylvania House, which holds all 203 members, including Pennsylvania's Rep. Mike Hanna, Rep. Kerry Benninghoff, Rep. Rich Irvin and Rep. Scott Conklin, who read a resolution to again welcome and congratulate the Nittany Lions on an all-around successful season, one that drew a standing ovation from the members on the floor.
"I want to congratulate the teams for not only what they do on the field but what they do in the community, the outreach they give, the coaches who oversee them," Conklin said.
Nittany Lion director of athletics Sandy Barbour only echoed the all-around success in her remarks in the main rotunda later in the afternoon, noting that the individuals surrounding her representing a combined 2016-17 total of nine conference titles, among a few other crowns, are only one part of the story.
Penn State was recently slated fourth in the first spring update of the Learfield Directors' Cup standings following a year that saw seven Nittany Lion squads earn Big Ten Championships or tournament titles in seven sports, the most of any league institution and the third-highest total in school history.
As head coach Cael Sanderson brought instantaneous cheers from the floor of the Pennsylvania house upon his introduction, the room was reminded of Nittany Lion wrestling team's stunning second consecutive NCAA Wrestling Championship, marking its sixth in the last seven years, with five individuals earning NCAA titles along the way.
As Barbour pointed out though, the impact of the Blue and White extends much further than excellence in competition.
Nearly a month ago, a school record 114 Penn State student-athletes graduated, bringing the 2016-17 total to 142, with more students on track to cross the stage in August. Penn State also revealed its 89 percent NCAA Graduation Success Rate this year, which stands just one point below its all-time program mark.
"Penn State student-athletes, not unlike their student colleagues and their servant hearts, have dedicated themselves to service," Barbour said. "Our student-athletes served over 6,200 hours of community engagement this last year. This comprehensive excellence is embraced by our Penn State and Pennsylvania community. It's truly Penn State's point of difference. It has historically motivated a state and a community, connected passionately to each and every one of our programs and each and every one of our student-athletes who wear the Blue and White."
Representative of just a small piece of a variety of community engagement close to Penn State student-athletes is THON, a beloved annual event that encompasses the entire university and Happy Valley community.
Led by the efforts of the Penn State Student Athlete Advisory Board, SAAB raised $59,679.49 for THON in 2017, which ranked third among the 400-plus general organizations represented. Surging past a fundraising goal of $50,000, the 2017 figure is SAAB's second-largest total in the history of the organization, adding to a career total of $680,000, all for THON and the Four Diamonds Fund, with four Penn State student-athletes joining the 703 dancers on the floor this year.
Among those dancers this year was women's soccer's Megan Schafer, a Big Ten Champion from Langhorne, who joined the group today for her second trip to state capitol, but first as a Nittany Lion.
"A couple of years ago I got recognized for winning a state championship, so I think it's pretty cool coming back at the collegiate level to get recognized for our hard work all season," Schafer said. "I think it's really cool everything that people put together just to recognize us today."
Prior to Penn State, Schafer scored the overtime game-winner to lead Neshaminy high school (also the alma mater of Penn State head football coach James Franklin) to a Pennsylvania state title.
The entire group of Nittany Lion coaches and student-athletes were treated to a personal meeting with Gov. Tom Wolf, who stopped by the steps of the main rotunda to greet the champions before heading back to Happy Valley.
By Arielle Sargent, GoPSUSports.com
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State Intercollegiate Athletics unveiled details for its Facilities Master Plan this afternoon, sharing results of a comprehensive study highlighted by five priority projects among the culmination of plans spanning the next 20 years.
"This facilities master plan will have a huge impact over a significant period of time," director of athletics Sandy Barbour said. "It will have a huge impact on not only students and student-athletes in particular and their conditions for success, but across our entire community. "
Central to the focus of an exhaustive 17-month study, Penn State partnered with one of the world's leading architecture and sport event planning firms (Populus) to develop its road map, designed to best enhance student-athlete academic and athletic performance and fan experience, among a variety of other needs.
With careful consideration and input from multiple stakeholders, Penn State ICA also reflected the University Park campus, tailoring its vision to reflect to the materials and structural design aesthetic of its master plan.
"We're at this juncture and very excited to be at this juncture because it means we're one step closer to having these facilities, whether they be renovations or whether they be construction, for having these facilities available to our students and fans and community," Barbour said.
Monday inside the Hintz Alumni Center, Barbour, along with deputy director of athletics and chief operating officer, Phil Esten and associate athletic director for facility and event operations management, Mark Bodenschatz detailed five priority projects during the initial five years, while also providing an early look at proposed Beaver Stadium renovation renderings, among other projects within the 20-year plan.
Penn State's top two priorities both involve new construction, including the addition of a second indoor practice facility as well as the Center of Excellence, which Barbour highlighted as the cornerstone of an aspirational vision.
Since arriving on campus, Barbour has shaped the primary Penn State Intercollegiate Athletics approach to its purpose around its "Why," which focuses the efforts of dedicated coaches and staff members directly to the benefit of student-athlete health, welfare and development.
Along with the Nittany Lion leadership team, Barbour has been instrumental in embedding the "Why" into the fabric of the rich tradition of academic and athletic success at Penn State.
With the mission to prepare students for a lifetime of impact, Penn State's Center of Excellence embodies all things central to creating conditions for success, providing a centralized location for student-athletes to continue to thrive.
Anticipated to be the new hub for Penn State's 800 student-athletes, staff and coaches, the 450,000-square foot Center of Excellence is set to be constructed in the location of the current East Area Locker Room. A five-story structure, the proposed renderings including
locker rooms for seven different Nittany Lion programs as well as a centralized home for a nutrition center among other student-athlete services.
Building program and site design also includes a basement level parking garage with approximately 500 spaces.
Attached to the Center of Excellence, plans for a proposed 108,000-square foot indoor practice facility similar to Holuba Hall, highlight the second priority project.
Perhaps unnoticed to the public, the current Holuba Hall might just be one of the busiest ICA facilities on campus. Serving up to eight programs in the fall, through the winter and spring months, Holuba Hall currently accommodates the practice, conditioning and the occasional competition schedules of up to 20 of Penn State's 31 varsity sports, while also serving rugby and the Blue Band from time to time. Hectic scheduling and unexpected weather changes also keeps the building's tightly packed schedule in full operation from as early as 5 a.m. up until nearly midnight daily.
A proposed second indoor practice facility provides space for baseball, softball, men's and women's golf, lacrosse and soccer programs in addition to an indoor workout space, putting a significant ease to a variety of aspects spanning several Nittany Lion programs.
Penn State's three other priority projects include the construction of a 10-lane, 50-meter Natatorium as well as a 10-court Indoor Tennis Facility. Renovations and upgrades to Jeffrey Field, home of Penn State men's and women's soccer, also round out the the projects falling in the next five-year capital plan, which is set to begin in the 2018-19 academic year.
Strategic and exhaustive in its design and development, Penn State's facilities master plan not only provides a path to best-in-class facilities, but also aims to enhance the gameday experience for the greater community, all while looking toward future growth.
"We've identified the programming and our programming needs to provide the conditions for success for our students and student-athletes," Barbour said, noting that the plan has determined which programs fit in certain places with purpose and functionality in mind.
As Barbour noted though, with any road map comes the possibility of detours and even a little rerouting. What's undoubtedly certain though, is the step Penn State Intercollegiate Athletics has taken to ensure a bright future for its student-athletes, and like every path guided by a road map, the journey begins with a single step forward."The passion at Penn State, the numbers that we represent, the community that we represent and the passion around intercollegiate athletics, I have no doubt in my mind that this community is going to support in many different ways," Barbour said.
PARK, Pa. - All weekend long, Penn State Athletics will be heavily involved in
THON 2017 at the Bryce Jordan Center.
THON's 700+ dancers, including four student-athletes and members of the cheerleading and dance teams all come together in support of the 46-hour IFC/Panhellenic Dance Marathon.
Since 1977, THON has partnered with The Four Diamonds Fund at Penn State Hershey Children's Hospital with one goal in mind: conquering childhood cancer. To date, more than $136 million has been raised by THON, including $9.7 million in 2015-16, and at least 95 percent of the funds raised at THON are donated directly to Four Diamonds.
Each year, more than 400 Penn State student organizations and 16,000 student volunteers dedicate their time to THON, making it the largest student-run philanthropy in the world.
Catch up with all things THON and Penn State Athletics all weekend long with extensive coverage below.
Friday, 6 p.m - Dancers Are You
More than 700 dancers went from sitting to standing Friday night at 6 p.m., embarking on the 46-hour no sleeping, no sitting challenge to raise awareness for pediatric cancer. All dancers will remain on their feet until the event closes at 4 p.m. Sunday afternoon.
We caught up with SAAB representatives Carly Celkos, Megan Shafer, Charlie Shuman and Jess O'Neill-Lyublinsky as they took their feet at the Bryce Jordan Center, sticking around for the first few minutes of dancing.
8 p.m. - Lip Sync Battle with Special Guest DNCE
Quarterback Trace McSorley and linebacker Jason Cabinda took to the stage at THON for a lip sync battle with a few THON family members. Prior to the Nittany Lion football team's performance, the Lionettes debuted a lip sync dance to open competition.
The lip sync battle quickly turned to from competition to fun
as DNCE, led by lead singer Joe Jonas surprised the crowd with an upbeat an energetic
performance. Check out some highlights from the event below.
Saturday, 10 a.m. - Checking in with Nittany Lion Dancers
THON Explorers Photo Gallery
Saturday, 1 p.m. - Football THON Explorers
And the total is... pic.twitter.com/0Ia21gtxka-- Four Diamonds (@fourdiamonds) February 19, 2017
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State's brand new Morgan Academic Center received a few more updates Monday evening as the Nittany Lions unveiled a reflection of its most recent success in the classroom. Hosting its first academic center celebration, Penn State flipped a trio of academic totals, revealing its honors through the fall semester.
In a unique ceremony, Penn State director of athletics Sandy Barbour, NCAA faculty representative Linda Caldwell and CoSIDA Academic All-Americans Haleigh Washington (women's volleyball) and Tyler Yazujian (football) all participated in the total changing event.
A central piece of the Morgan Academic Center, the far north wall includes a large set of numbers fixed near the ceiling, reflecting Penn State's NCAA graduation rate, all-time CoSIDA Academic All-Americans and all-time Academic All-Big Ten honorees.
While maybe just numbers to an average visitor off the street, the totals serve as a visual reminder to all Penn State student-athletes, coaches, staff and guests, displaying a total commitment to academic success.
"It's part of Penn State's DNA," Barbour said. "It's part of our success with honor, it's who we are, its always been a part of our culture, its always been a part of the standard here and I certainly as the athletic director today, want to make sure I do my part to uphold that. So it's going to be a huge priority for us every day."
Together, Washington, Yazujian and Caldwell all boarded a mechanical lift to take two trips to the top of the wall to peel off the old set of numbers, proudly revealing a new set of numbers each of which showing a positive increase.
In November, the NCAA released its annual national graduation rates study, which revealed that Penn State student-athletes earned a Graduation Success Rate (GSR) of 89 percent compared to the 84 percent average for all Division I institutions for students entering from 2006-07 through the 2009-10 academic year. The 89 percent graduation figure was just one point off Penn State's 90 percent all-time graduation record mark and one point higher than last year's figure.
Both Washington and Yazujian earned Academic All-America honors this fall, marking the second time each has received the prestigious honor. Penn State's 195 CoSIDA Academic All-Americans ranks 5th among NCAA institutions from all divisions and 4th among all Division I schools.
Penn State also saw a total of 78 Academic All-Big Ten honorees among seven fall sports this past semester, brining the Nittany Lion total to 5,654 selections since joining the conference in 1991-92. The mark also leads all Big Ten institutions.
The Nittany Lion commitment to academic achievement isn't something that yields success by one single individual, but rather as Barbour noted, a group of people who all believe in the same rich tradition.
"It's not like you have a really good academic year and it's like 'okay we're done, we're there,' it's an every day thing and I'm really proud of the effort of student-athletes, our coaches, our faculty, our staff, our Morgan Center advisors, it's definitely a team effort," Barbour said.
For Washington, the support not just in terms of athletic performance, is what makes all the difference.
"It's so cool that we have such a strong University that supports everything that we do," Washington said. It's really amazing that they don't just push us to be really good on the court or on the field, or wherever we're playing, they push us to be good in the classroom and it's amazing to have a support system like what we have at Penn State."
Check out a few more notes on Penn State's academic achievement.
- Twenty-eight Penn State student-athletes from 11 sports earned their degrees in December 2016, bringing the total number of graduates to 153 since last May.
- The NCAA also released in November the federal graduation rates for students and student-athletes as it has for the past 26 years. The four-year federal graduation rate average for Penn State student-athletes was 78 percent, No. 3 among Big Ten institutions, and significantly above the 66 percent Division I average.- The NCAA data revealed student-athletes from seven Penn State squads earned a Graduation Success Rate of 100 percent, an increase of two from last year's five teams. The seven Nittany Lion squads posting perfect graduation scores were: men's basketball, field hockey, women's golf, women's gymnastics, men's soccer, softball and women's tennis.
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