Penn State Penn State: College of the Liberal Arts


Director’s Update – January 2018

Director’s Update – January 2018

January 2, 2018

This past year marked the 75th anniversary of our program.  Completing three quarters of a century of service to the Penn State community is a significant achievement and we intend to celebrate this milestone with a Gala Dinner and Celebration in the spring!  The big event will be held Friday, April 13 on campus and all alums are invited. Beaver Stadium and Bryce Jordan were booked J, so we had to settle for the Ballroom at the Nittany Lion Inn.  It only holds 150, so seating will be limited. Registration information will be sent by email in the next few days.  If you want to be sure of a seat, please register as soon as you receive the information (more detail in the story below).

2017 was notable, not only because it was our 75th anniversary, but because it was one of the most productive, and most challenging, years in our program’s history.  Among the many good things that happened was the continued enrollment growth of our residential and online undergraduate and graduate programs. In addition, a record number of our students chose to have some kind of international experience (study abroad, study tour, or international internship) in the past year, something our School has made a priority. Our students are also having great success in the job market and more and more companies are coming to our office to recruit our undergraduate and graduate students. 

Our faculty have also been very productive.  Over the last two years, they have completely redesigned our undergraduate and graduate curricula. In the area of research and scholarship, they have presented their work at meetings around the world and publishing articles in many of the top academic journals in human resource management and labor and employment relations.  They have also worked hard to grow our School’s outreach programs to both the labor movement and the HR community.

At the same time, our School has been challenged by the loss of a number of faculty and staff.  Some of these losses have been due to retirement (Professors Alan Derickson and staff member Lisa Pierson) and new opportunities (Professor Helen Liu).  Others have been tragic.  In October, Professor Stan Gully unexpectedly passed away.  Also this fall, Professor Amy Dietz was forced to take a leave of absence to battle cancer.  Losing these people (even for a semester in Amy’s case) has been difficult for our students, staff, and faculty alike.  If there is a silver lining to these losses, it is the way our School has come together as a community, supporting and taking care of one another through some trying times.

Another encouraging sign has been the School’s ability to begin to fill the void left by these departures. In December we completed what might be the most successful faculty search in School history. The result will be the addition of five new faculty in the year ahead.  This month, Professor Rebecca Tarlau joined our faculty; she will split her time between the Department of Adult Education and LER.  In the Fall, we will welcome four outstanding young scholars.  Kameron Carter and Dorothea Roumpi will join us as Assistant Professors of Human Resource Management and Michael Maffie and Kate Maich will come on board as Assistant Professors of Labor and Employment Relations. We believe this recruiting class includes five of the most talented and dynamic young scholars in the HR and ER fields and we are confident that our students will greatly benefit from the chance to work with, and be taught by, them.

So the future looks bright.