Abington campus celebrates 60 years of Penn State pride

Penn State Abington (formerly Penn State Ogontz) will be celebrating its 60th anniversary throughout the 2010-11 academic year. The kick-off event will be held at noon on Tuesday, Aug. 24, near the duck pond on the wooded campus. Faculty, staff and students can join the party and share birthday cake and ice cream while Chancellor Karen Wiley Sandler and Student Government President Brian Martinowich reflect on the past and contemplate the future for this growing Penn State campus. Attendees will receive a commemorative photo collage poster with more than 100 images depicting campus life throughout the years.

Recently, long time faculty and administration were asked, "What does Penn State Abington mean to you?" While the answers were varied and humorous, they all carried the common theme of a "connected, caring community."

According to Moylan C. Mills, professor emeritus of integrative arts, who claims he's been at the campus since the "Jurassic Age," the strong connection between students and faculty is what matters most at Penn State Abington.

"One of the most important components of the Penn State Abington experience is that here we have the advantages of a small college where people know each other, where faculty are in their offices -- students can come in and talk with them, be mentored by them, advised by them -- and yet we have the backing of this great research University. There's a wonderful symbiotic relationship between this small college atmosphere and all of this research that we have on hand, that we can call on and use."

Pat Clayton, senior instructor of kinesiology, started her career on the Abington campus as a student-athlete and then joined the faculty in the 1970s. Clayton points out that as far as athletics are concerned, Penn State Abington has come a long way.

"I was here when women played basketball in cutoffs and T-shirts with our numbers taped on back. We'd come back at seven o’clock at night and practice at the junior high school. Those were in the days when your heart was in it and you just played ... I've seen big growth here: from never having a gym to going NCAA."

Clayton also touched on the common theme of the closeness among faculty and students.

“I think it's the most important thing that I have experienced both as a student and as faculty. It's always there. It carries through. We're all interested," she said.

Chief Operating Officer Dale Hollenbach has worked at Penn State Abington since 1990, when there only were four computers on the entire campus.

"You can imagine the explosion of technology in that amount of time," reminisced Hollenbach. "It was just phenomenal."

But he doesn’t consider the technology take-off as the only phenomenal development at Penn State Abington through the years. According to Hollenbach, the supportive connection between the faculty, administration and students was -- and is -- a defining feature of the campus.

"The other part is the caring attitude of campus. I've been through some personal things and the outpouring from the administration, faculty and even the students during those times -- it's just a complete caring. It follows through on so many levels.”

Sandler, chancellor of Penn State Abington for more than 15 years, couldn't agree more.

"The thing that stands out most to me is the way we change peoples' lives. In helping the students we help ourselves in this caring community," Sandler said.

Check the campus Web site throughout the academic year for future anniversary events at http://www.abington.psu.edu/ online.