The Penn State Abington campus community formally welcomed Chancellor Damian J. Fernandez into the fold last week during the campus's first Chancellor's Convocation.
Fernandez's family and friends joined faculty, staff and students as the chancellor shared his bold vision for the campus, the Philadelphia region and the nation.
Some excerpts from his remarks.
The power of education
"During the past several months I have been meeting with students, faculty, staff and administrators. ... and what I heard brings us together under one common theme: Education carries the power to unlock potential, transforming individuals and communities. We believe education makes the world a better place because the education we pursue here carries a purpose beyond the self."
Inclusion and diversity
"Penn State Abington is committed to educating those at the margins, the underserved, and we are positioned to serve as a model for urban public institutions of higher education across the nation.
"Our students are the face of our nation. We are a community that is opening doors of opportunity to first-generation college students, minorities, immigrants, international students and adult learners. Walk around this campus and you will see our country reflected in all its shades. It is a compelling experience because it represents a moral imperative for our country.
"What our students teach us is that it is not lack of talent but lack of opportunity that too often determines one’s life chances."
-- Damian J. Fernandez, Abington chancellor
"Penn State Abington college is a metaphor for American values and the expanding frontier of inclusion. It is a metaphor for our nation’s belief in limitless possibilities, the value of hard work, the importance of grit and determination to succeed.
"Working together, we are motivated to create a greater Penn State Abington, a college distinguished by excellence and student success, with a faculty engaged in high impact teaching and scholarship, and a community unafraid to have necessary, if difficult, conversations for the common good."
The new America
"The future of the nation is being forged in places like Abington. We are forging the new America. Our nation’s future hinges on getting public education right — ensuring that our students realize their potential so that they can live our values, advance our communities and deliver on the American promise to all."
Fernandez is an accomplished scholar, teacher and senior academic leader. He served as CEO and head of school at the progressive Ethical Culture Fieldston School in New York City prior to arriving at Abington. His leadership positions included time at Purchase College and Florida International University.
Fernandez’s research interests include Latin American politics and international relations, politics of Latinos in the United States, state-society relations in a transnational context and Cuba’s domestic politics and foreign policy. He holds degrees from the University of Miami, the University of Florida, and Princeton University.
Two Penn State Alumni Fellows, Andrew Santacroce, 1988 graduate, and Louis D'Amborsio, 1986 graduate, participated in the ceremony along with Madlyn Hanes, vice president for Commonwealth Campuses/executive chancellor. Leaders of area colleges and universities attended as well.