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Director’s Update – January 2017

Director’s Update – January 2017

January 23, 2017

2017 is here, students have returned from the holiday break, and the Spring semester is underway.  This year New Year’s has special significance for the School of Labor and Employment Relations as 2017 marks the 75th anniversary of our program.  LER was founded in 1942 as part of an effort to ensure peaceful labor-management relations in Pennsylvania during World War II.  Penn State was asked to provide training for union leaders and activists working in industries important to the war effort on the basis that informed union leaders would be better able to resolve disputes with management and prevent disruption of the war effort.  In fact, the first such program was conducted at the Philadelphia Naval Yard, a key production facility that built battleships for the U.S. Navy. 

From its origins as a small labor education program, LER has evolved into a School offering six different undergraduate degrees, three graduate degrees, and three certificate programs in residence at University Park and online through the World Campus that prepare practitioners to work in employment relations and human resource management for employers, unions, and government.  Our faculty are involved in cutting edge research on a range of issues related to work and employment and regularly publish their findings in books, journals, and practitioner publications.  And we have growing outreach programs that bring the expertise of LER’s faculty to management practitioners through our Academy for Human Resource Development and to unions and union leaders through the School’s Labor Education Program.  As the work of our School has grown, so has our faculty.  In 2016, we reached a high of 25 full-time, and 75 part-time, faculty members.

It takes the contributions of many people over many years to build the kind of School we have today.  Our program has been fortunate to have had many committed faculty who helped build a student-centered culture that has stood the test of time.  We have also had caring and knowledgeable staff who took a genuine interest in our students and helped steer them through the maze of requirements, forms, and deadlines that stand between every Penn State student and their degree.  And when our students have become alumni and gone on to successful careers, they have remained in touch with the program and have demonstrated their loyalty by giving of their time, expertise, and money to help the generations of students who have followed in their footsteps.

So, as we reach this important milestone in the history of our School, our students, faculty, staff, and alumni can take pride in what we have accomplished over three quarters of a century.  And I hope we can all bring the same commitment and passion that has served us so well as we embark on the next chapter in our history.