Penn State

Matt DiSanto / WPSU

U.S. Senate candidate Jeff Bartos visited Penn State’s Berkey Creamery Monday as part of his 12-day tour around Pennsylvania’s 67 counties.

With a scoop of mint chocolate-chip ice cream in hand, Bartos took a moment to rest during his sixth pitstop of the day. He says that’s easy to do when you’re out in central Pennsylvania.

“What stands out more than anything is the beauty of the region, obviously the amazing history and the great people,” said Bartos, a Berks County native. “It’s kind of quintessentially ‘Pennsylvania.’”

Old Main

The Penn State Board of Trustees approved a salary increase for university employees on Thursday. An increase in tuition rates for students will also take effect.

A 2% general salary increase will take effect for faculty and staff for the 2021-2022 fiscal year, retroactive to July 1, for a total of $23.7 million. $3.8 million will be used for contractual increases and promotions.

Last year there were no salary increases due to the pandemic.

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

As Penn State continues to encourage — not require — students and employees to get vaccinated for COVID-19 before the fall semester, one factor it has to contend with is politics.


Democratic Governor Tom Wolf recently vetoed Republican-backed legislation that, among other things, would have prohibited universities and colleges that get state funding from requiring vaccines.


Matt DiSanto / WPSU

Free parking at Penn State’s Arboretum is coming to an end as the university begins building the new Palmer Museum of Art this summer.

Beginning July 19, free visitor parking will no longer be available at the Arboretum’s parking lot along Bigler Road. Instead, guests are asked to park across the street in a paid lot near the Lewis Katz Building.

Matt DiSanto / WPSU

Governor Tom Wolf visited Penn State Monday to celebrate Pennsylvania’s new law allowing college athletes to get paid for endorsements and sponsorships.

High up in Beaver Stadium’s club level, Wolf recognized legislation that lets student-athletes profit from the use of their name, image, and likeness – better known as NIL. Wolf said the new policy will help athletes finally earn their fair share.

State College police truck
Anne Danahy / WPSU

A new report published Tuesday recommended significant changes to Centre County’s police departments.

The Task Force on Policing and Communities of Color spent eight months reviewing local police data and practices from six different departments, including State College, Bellefonte, and Penn State’s campus police.

Old Main

After collecting feedback for months, Penn State is officially searching for its next president.

In this file photo, students hold a Pride flag on Penn State's Old Main steps during a candlelight vigil on June 13th, 2016 to honor the victims of the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando, Florida.
Min Xian / WPSU

Penn State students checking out the course catalog this fall may notice some changes meant to boost inclusivity on campus. 

The university's Faculty Senate voted 125-13 in late April to remove binary and gendered terms like “freshman” and “upperclassmen” and the pronouns “he” and “she” from Penn State's course and program descriptions. 

Faculty Senator Bonj Szczygiel said the new, more inclusive language aims to take one struggle off some students’ plates.

Matt DiSanto / WPSU

The Arboretum at Penn State opened its long-awaited Pollinator and Bird Garden to the public on Monday following nearly two years of construction.

The 3-acre addition, a decade in the making, increases the Arboretum’s H.O. Smith Botanic Gardens by 60%.

Forest biologist Kim Steiner, the Arboretum’s founding director, retired Wednesday following nearly 50 years at Penn State. He spent his final day at the garden and hopes you will, too.

Jade Campos / WPSU

The pandemic stopped many live theater performances from taking the stage over the past year. But Penn State’s “No Refund Theatre” was adamant that the show must go on. The group spent the spring semester bringing a live show to life, while taking precautions to stay safe from COVID-19. 

No Refund Theatre started rehearsals over Zoom in January for the play “Gruesome Playground Injuries.” At the time, the two-person cast mostly just practiced running lines with the director and crew.


This booking photo provided by the Centre County Correctional Facility shows former Penn State president Graham Spanier.
Centre County Correctional Facility

Former Penn State president Graham Spanier has reported to jail early to begin serving his sentence for child endangerment in a case stemming from the Jerry Sandusky child sexual abuse scandal.

Spanier reported to Centre County Correctional Facility, several miles from the Penn State campus, on Monday morning. That's according to warden Christopher Schell.

A judge upheld Spanier’s sentence last month and ordered him to begin serving at least two months in the county jail for a single misdemeanor conviction of endangering the welfare of children.

Penn State Old Main building
Min Xian / WPSU


report published Tuesday provided new insight into Penn State’s search for its next president.


Penn State's Beaver Stadium is usually packed for "Whiteout games," but due to COVID-19 there will be no fans this Saturday.
Emily Reddy / WPSU

Penn State will fill Beaver Stadium and other athletic venues to full capacity this fall as fans return to the stands for the first time in nearly two years.

The announcement comes just one day after Governor Tom Wolf lifted all capacity limits for business and events in Pennsylvania. The state’s mask mandate is expected to be repealed by June 28.

Woman standing in a grassy research field pointing to a plant.
Anne Danahy / WPSU

The need to cut greenhouse gas emissions that are driving climate change is well known, but scientists at Penn State say actually removing heat-trapping gases from the air has to be a part of the strategy too.

Tom Richard, director of Penn State’s Institutes of Energy and the Environment and an organizer of its recent “Energy Days 2021” conference, said reducing emissions is important, but not enough.

Two masked students walking on the Penn State University Park campus
Min Xian / WPSU

Starting June 28, fully vaccinated people at will no longer need to wear masks on Penn State campuses.

Those who are fully protected against COVID-19 also won’t need to physically distance indoors and outdoors. Non-vaccinated individuals must continue masking after June 28.

Joshua Yospyn

Dr. Michael E. Mann is distinguished professor of atmospheric science at Penn State and director of the Penn State Earth System Science Center. He is recognized around the world as a leading expert on climate change. His latest book is “The New Climate War: The Fight to Take Back Our Planet,” published by Hachette. WPSU’s Kristine Allen talked with Michael Mann about tactics used by climate change deniers, what needs to be done about the climate crisis, and why he's optimistic about tackling climate change.



Former Penn State President Graham Spanier arrives for a hearing at the Dauphin County Courthouse in Harrisburg, Pa., Wednesday, May 26, 2021.
Matt Rourke / AP Photo

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — A judge has upheld the jail sentence of the former Penn State president who was forced out as the school’s top administrator after Jerry Sandusky was arrested nearly a decade ago.

The judge says Graham Spanier must report to jail on July 9 to begin serving at least two months for endangering the welfare of children, followed by two months of house arrest. Spanier had stayed out of jail during appeals.

A Penn State spokesperson says Spanier remains a tenured faculty member on administrative leave who is not teaching classes.  

Penn State Old Main building
Min Xian / WPSU


Penn State faculty members are calling for more input from professors, students and staff in picking the next president of the university to replace Eric Barron, who is retiring in 2022. 

A person walks across an empty mall on Penn State main campus
Min Xian / WPSU

A recent surge in hate crimes and harassment against Asians and Asian Americans across the country due to COVID-19 has sparked conversation about anti-Asian racism. Members of the State College community shared their experiences of being Asian in Central Pennsylvania with WPSU intern Jade Campos. Some of them will be part of a panel discussion tonight on the topic.

Old Main

A Penn State political science professor filed a lawsuit on Wednesday against the university for racial discrimination. 

Errol Henderson is suing Penn State for $75,000 for race-based discrimination. The lawsuit said he has filed complaints with the university over the past 10 years for racism in the workplace.

Throughout the past decade, Henderson has reportedly issued complaints about the actions of colleagues in the political science department as well university administration like Vice President and Provost Nick Jones.

Ben Locke
Courtesy of Ben Locke

On this episode of Take Note, we talk with Ben Locke, the director of Penn State's Counseling and Psycological Services and the director of the Center for Collegiate Mental Health at Penn State. He founded the Center in 2005 and began leading the process of conducting an annual reporter of mental health services for colleges across the U.S. in 2008.

Here is the interview:

Penn State football coach James Franklin speaks to reporters about the importance of COVID-19 vaccines. Penn State president Eric Barron, freshman football player Theo Johnson and Governor Tom Wolf (seated, L to R) also spoke at the event.
Emily Reddy / WPSU

Governor Tom Wolf, Penn State President Eric Barron and Nittany Lions football coach James Franklin spoke together at the Pegula Ice Arena Wednesday, encouraging students to get vaccinated for COVID-19 before they leave for the summer. 

“Right now I know that this is maybe not something that is top of mind. Finals coming up, moving back home, finding summer jobs,” Wolf said. “But now that college students are eligible to get vaccinated, it is really important to make this a priority.” 


A person walks across an empty mall on Penn State main campus
Min Xian / WPSU

After a year of largely remote classes and jobs, Penn State plans to move faculty and staff back to in-person work this fall as COVID-19 vaccines become widely available, according to an announcement from the university giving an overview of return-to-work plans.

In making the announcement, the university said the availability of vaccines factors into “an optimistic outlook for summer and a full, on-campus experience for students at all campuses in fall 2021.”

While some members of the Penn State community are wary of the university's return to in-person classes, some believe vaccines may make transition safer.
Jade Campos / WPSU


As more and more of the country gets vaccinated against coronavirus, many Penn Staters are feeling hopeful about the upcoming in-person school year. Others point to the current upswing in COVID cases and say it’s too soon.

Signage for a COVID-19 collection site in State College, Pa.
Min Xian / WPSU


In a livestream Friday, leaders at Penn State and from the surrounding community voiced concerns about the recent uptick in coronavirus cases and a new, more infectious variant found in State College.

State College Mayor Ron Filippelli said police have been responding to more gatherings recently and he sees a relaxation of precautions across the board.

A tented device to play back natural gas compressor noise in between two bluebird boxes in a field
Julian Avery / Penn State

A study by Penn State researchers found that songbirds nesting near the sound of natural gas compressors had fewer hatched eggs.  

Researchers set up 80 bird boxes at Penn State's Russell E. Larson Agricultural Research Center in Rock Springs in central Pennsylvania, to attract bluebirds and tree swallows. Half were in quiet areas, and half where researchers played audio recordings from a compressor station. They also outfitted the boxes with mini-cameras.

What they found was in some ways surprising.

A a technician sitting above a manhole next to a red cone installs a flow meter into the university's sewage network.
Michael Shreve / Penn State

A team of Penn State researchers is using wastewater testing to track the rise and fall of the COVID-19 virus in the State College area. WPSU's Anne Danahy spoke with Andrew Read, director of the Huck Institutes of the Life Sciences, about the project. Here's their conversation. 

Anne Danahy 

Andrew Read, thank you for talking with us.

Andrew Read 


Anne Danahy 

The State College Police Department reported a total of four COVID-19 ordinance violations over State Patty's Day weekend. Violators of the ordinance can receive a fine up to $300.
Jade Campos / WPSU

State College’s annual partying holiday, State Patty’s Day, took place this past weekend. Crime rates surrounding the event have dipped in recent years. That trend continued this year despite the creation of new COVID-19 citations.

This State Patty’s weekend saw the lowest crime statistics in the past 11 years.

State College and Penn State police focused enforcement on dorms and apartments close to campus. The borough encouraged rental owners to keep an eye out for large gatherings throughout the weekend as well.

File photo of a mobile COVID-19 test site on Penn State University Park campus.
Min Xian / WPSU

Monday is the first day of in-person classes for Penn State students. To slow the spread of the virus, the university is requiring students to be re-tested after arriving back on campus for the semester. 

All students living on or off-campus who are registered for in-person classes are required to take the arrival test.

Students living in the State College area are also required to take the test even if their classes are fully remote.

Mary Church Terrell

To celebrate Frederick Douglass’s birthday, Penn State will host an online “transcribe-a-thon” event this weekend to preserve the papers of an important Black woman activist. 


Jim Casey is a Douglass Day co-director and an assistant professor of African American Studies at Penn State. He said Douglass Day has evolved in the five years since it began.