Penn State

Empty Penn State mall
Min Xian / WPSU

Penn State will announce within the next few days what format the summer session will take, university Provost Nick Jones said in a town hall Thursday.

Jones said the university will consider challenges and lessons from the spring semester, when the university decided to cancel in-person classes in March.

Hundreds of Penn State students and parents are petitioning landlords of off-campus apartments to provide some rent relief.
Min Xian / WPSU

Mark Naidoff’s daughter is a senior at Penn State. Like most students, she hasn’t returned to her downtown apartment since spring break ended, as the university canceled in-person classes for the rest of the semester. 

Courtesy Matthew Ferrari

Matthew Ferrari is an epidemiologist and associate professor of biology at Penn State who studies infectious diseases and how they spread across populations. He uses mathematical and statistical tools to understand patterns of disease incidence. He talked with WPSU's Cheraine Stanford about the new coronavirus, what we know, what we don’t and what it means for our community and our country.

Old Main, the administration building, on Penn State's University Park campus
Min Xian / WPSU

 

Penn State has failed to protect some students and hasn’t handled all complaints of sexual harassment appropriately, according to the U.S. Department of Education, which on Thursday released the results of an investigation into the university.

 

Among the findings are that Penn State violated Title IX by not responding appropriately to complaints of sexual harassment. That includes student complaints in the 2016-17 academic year and complaints first reported to the Athletic Department in 2015-16 and 2017-18.  

Outside view of empty Penn State HUB-Robeson Center
Min Xian / WPSU

Penn State is telling most of its employees and staff to plan to work from home for the rest of the semester.

 

The university had already directed faculty and staff to begin working remotely as part of efforts to stem the spread of the coronavirus. That decision came in light of Gov. Tom Wolf’s March 19 order that businesses that aren’t life-sustaining close.

 

empty HUB-Robeson Center with one person walking
Min Xian / WPSU

Penn State will not lay off employees at least through the end of April, although faculty and staff won’t get pay increases this year, university leaders said during a town hall Tuesday.

 

The university is also planning for the possibility of continuing remote learning through summer semester, as COVID-19’s reach across Pennsylvania and the country grows.

 

Old Main, the administration building, on Penn State's University Park campus
Min Xian / WPSU

Two Penn State students who were traveling abroad have tested positive for COVID-19, the university’s president, Eric Barron, said.

 

Barron was speaking to the Board of Trustees Thursday morning during a telephone meeting.

 

A Penn State spokesman said the students have not been on campus. He said one student is back in the United States and has been asymptomatic. The other is still abroad. The university, he said, is “doing whatever we can to support the student, who we understand is feeling better.”

The HUB Robeson Center was mostly empty as Penn State canceled in-person classes due to the coronavirus outbreak.
Min Xian / WPSU

Penn State student Jacob Klipstein was shocked when Ohio State University announced it would suspend all in-person classes due to the coronavirus outbreak. 

view of empty Penn State mall
Min Xian / WPSU

Penn State announced today that it will not return to normal, in-person classes this semester, instead keeping the entire semester online.

The move comes in response to the coronavirus and efforts to slow the increasing number of cases of COVID-19. The decision means that spring commencement ceremonies are being postponed.

empty HUB-Robeson Center with one person walking
Min Xian / WPSU

Penn State plans to announce Wednesday whether the rest of the semester will continue remotely in response to COVID-19. President Eric Barron made that remark during Tuesday’s Faculty Senate meeting while responding to questions.

“It is the best thing to say we will answer this question tomorrow,” Barron said when asked if faculty will be delivering classes remotely for the rest of the semester. “Because, we just don’t want to get ahead of ourselves, as we contemplate many, many different issues that are related to that decision.”

Penn State students load their belongings into cars to leave campus on Sunday, March 15, 2020.
Anne Danahy / WPSU

Penn State has switched to online classes for the next three weeks in response to the coronavirus. But students have a window of time to go to their dorm rooms to collect books or other things they need, and that led to at least one long line at University Park, raising concerns.

The image was posted on Facebook Sunday: a long line of Penn State students standing and waiting to access their dorm rooms. The concerns were obvious.

As the website Onward State, which posted the pictures, put it: “So much for social distancing.”

Old Main, an administrative building and landmark of Penn State's University Park campus.
Lindsay Lazarski / Keystone Crossroads

In the wake of the growing number of COVID-19 cases in the U.S. and in Pennsylvania, Penn State is switching to remote learning and discouraging students from returning to campus for three weeks.

Penn State announced that it is canceling in-person classes and switching to remote, online learning at least through April 3. Penn State is currently on spring break, and the university is discouraging all students from returning after the break, even if they live off-campus.

There are no known cases on any of the Penn State campuses. 

Penn State associate professor Dr. Darryl Thomas and professor Dr. Gary King, who wrote "More Rivers to Cross: A Report on the Status of African American Professors at Penn State University."
Min Xian / WPSU

A new report titled "More Rivers to Cross: A Report on the Status of African American Professors at Penn State University" finds that there's a shortage of black faculty at the university and offers some reasons for why that is.

Penn State professor Dr. Gary King, and associate professor Dr. Darryl Thomas prepared the report with the input of other black faculty.

Woman standing in lab performing tests in Miami
Brynn Anderson / AP

As coronavirus continues to spread, Penn State University is planning for both the short-term and the long-run, including restricting some overseas trips. 

Spring break is next week, and Penn State Provost Nick Jones said the university is getting ready.

“At the end of the day it is difficult for us to manage the travel of thousands of students," Jones said. "That said, what we are trying to prepare for is the return of those students.”

As director of Global Programs, Jennifer Campbell oversees Penn State’s international community. She says her office has helped Penn State’s Chinese students by giving deferments to incoming students, assisting in buying medical equipment and by translating press releases about the disease to ensure correct information is spread.

“It’s when misinformation, disinformation happens I think that causes fear or panic that’s when you can kind of have more concerns than just the actual virus,” she said.

Shaheen Pasha is launching a prison journalism program in central Pennsylvania.
Min Xian / WPSU

Penn State assistant teaching professor Shaheen Pasha is an advocate for more journalism courses to be taught in prison.

She talked with WPSU about a reporting class she taught to both prisoners and journalism students in Massachusetts, the benefits of learning about our mass incarceration system from the people who are living it and her plan to create a program here in central Pennsylvania. TRANSCRIPT:  

Min Xian: Welcome to Take Note on WPSU. I'm Min Xian.

Jenni Evans sitting in front of a microphone
Anne Danahy / WPSU

Wildfires continue to burn in parts of Australia. So far, more than 30 people have died and about 41,000 square miles have been burned. It’s estimated that hundreds of millions of animals have perished. WPSU’s Anne Danahy spoke about the fires with Jenni Evans, professor of meteorology and atmospheric science at Penn State and 2019 president of the American Meteorological Society.

Tree outside Old Main
Emily Reddy / WPSU

Penn State announced Thursday that the university will offer eligible staff four weeks of paid parental leave starting in July.

The university announced the new benefit policy Thursday and said it will apply to staff members who have worked 12 consecutive months prior to July 1 this year. 

The four week period has to start within 90 days following a birth or an adoption that takes place after July 1. 

University Health Services on the Penn State University Park campus provides mental health care for the student population.
Kaitlyn Aguiles / WPSU

The annual mental health report released by the Center for Collegiate Mental Health at Penn State found depression and anxiety beginning to decrease while trauma increased among the concerns of college students. The center’s Executive Director Ben Locke said that’s because more attention is being paid to traumas like sexual assault. 

“As a country, we are becoming more aware of being trauma informed," Locke said, "understanding that when people experience trauma it is life impacting.”

Old Main
WPSU

Penn State has suspended a fraternity after a report of sexual assault that allegedly occurred there on Jan. 15. 

The university said in a statement Wednesday that the Office of Student Conduct has placed the Phi Sigma Delta Sigma chapter of Alpha Epsilon Pi Fraternity on "interim suspension" while the Office of Sexual Misconduct Prevention and Response and State College Police investigate.

WPSU

In Performance at Penn State is a monthly hour-long program that showcases performances from Penn State's School of Music. This month, hear Penn State Faculty pianist Jose Ramon Mendez play two of the Four Impromptus, D. 935 by Franz Schubert: No. 2 in A-flat and No.3 in B-flat; The Penn State Philharmonic playing The Fountains of Rome by Ottorino Respighi, with guest conductor Theresa Cheung; and PSU faculty saxophonist David Stambler, with pianist Kathy Gattuso-Cinatl, in Moment Musicaux by contemporary American composer Mark Lanz Weiser.

Penn State faculty member Peter Forster teaches security and risk analysis and international relations.
Min Xian / WPSU

Recent tensions between the U.S. and Iran have the cybersecurity community concerned about a potential cyber response from the Iranian government.

Penn State faculty member Peter Forster talked with WPSU about those concerns. Forster teaches security and risk analysis and international relations.

TRANSCRIPT: 

Min Xian: Dr. Forster, thanks for joining us.

Peter Forster: Thank you. It's a pleasure to be here again and speaking with you.

Ex-player Sues Penn State Over Football Hazing Allegations

Jan 14, 2020
Penn State head coach James Franklin celebrates with his team as Penn State plays Memphis in the first half of the NCAA Cotton Bowl college football game, Saturday, Dec. 28, 2019, in Arlington, Texas.
Ron Jenkins / AP Photo

A former Penn State football player claims in a new federal lawsuit that other Nittany Lions players hazed him and other younger teammates.

The allegations in the lawsuit filed Monday include claims that some players imitated sexual acts in the shower. The claims also include threats of older players saying, “I am going to Sandusky you," to younger players. Jerry Sandusky was the team's retired longtime defensive coordinator when he was convicted in 2012 of sexual abuse of 10 boys, including physical attacks on university property.

Jessie Sage, left, and James Tison talk about the stigma their communities face.
WPSU

Jessie Sage is a sex worker who writes and speaks publicly on issues related to sex work, feminism, and social justice. James Tison is a stand-up comedian in New York who uses humor to fight stigma against his LGBTQ identity and life with HIV.

Sage and Tison recently spoke at an event at Penn State called “Facts not Fear: A Night to Fight Stigma,” and talked with WPSU about fighting the sigma their communities face. 

This Take Note interview talks about sex work and might not be suitable for children to hear. 

Peter Forster talks with WPSU about why cybersecurity shouldn't be an afterthought in today's world.
Min Xian / WPSU

Peter Forster is an associate professor who teaches security and risk analysis at Penn State’s College of Information Sciences and Technology. His research focuses on cybersecurity, counter-terrorism and social networks. Forster has worked on improving law enforcement’s situational awareness of issues such as drug and human trafficking. He also oversees a research project on better understanding of how extremist organizations recruit Americans in cyberspace.

Tree outside Old Main
Emily Reddy / WPSU

Under a new Penn State policy, undergraduates who get a D or an F in a class, will be able to ask retake the class and, if they do better, have their higher grade count toward their GPA.

The university says the change — “grade forgiveness" — is part of a broader effort to help more students succeed.

David Smith, head of the Division of Undergraduate Studies at Penn State, said the university has been developing a systematic way of working with students struggling academically.

State College police truck
Anne Danahy / WPSU

There will be no charges filed related in the case of the 17-year-old from Erie, who died in State College in October, Centre County District Attorney Bernie Cantorna said in a statement Thursday.

John “Jack” Schoenig died on October 19 in a West College Avenue apartment in State College after inhaling a dose of nitrous oxide from a whip-it dispenser, the statement said. State College Police and the county’s Coroner’s Office determined his death was accidental due to chemical asphyxiation. 

State College police truck
Anne Danahy / WPSU

The office of the Coroner of Centre County said the death of a 17-year-old who died at an off-campus house in State College last month was accidental. 

Deputy Coroner Debra Smeal reported on November 22 that an autopsy found that John “Jack” Schoenig died from chemical asphyxia due to nitrous oxide. The report also said a toxicology report did not detect any alcohol in the teen’s system.

Schoenig was a high school senior at Cathedral Prep School in Erie.

Former Penn State University assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky, center, arrives at the Centre County Courthouse to be resentenced Friday, Nov. 22, 2019, in Bellefonte, Pa.
AP Photo / Gene J. Puskar

BELLEFONTE, Pa. (AP) — Former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky was resentenced Friday to 30 to 60 years in prison, the same penalty as before, for sexually abusing children.

Sandusky, 75, was sentenced by Judge Maureen Skerda at the Centre County Courthouse in Bellefonte. He wore a yellow jumpsuit and entered court with his hands cuffed in front of him.

Sandusky again asserted his innocence, choked up twice in brief remarks to the judge and told his supporters he loves them.

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