Higher Education Alumni Gathered Together to Celebrate Higher Education Milestones
By Angelique Bacon-Woodard '96 M.S. Ed Admin, '01 D.Ed. Higher Ed
Chair of HEPAC Anniversary Committee
Higher Education Program alumni, faculty, students, friends, and family members gathered during Arts Fest weekend, July 9-11, to celebrate a long legacy of combined success. The Higher Education Program, which is currently ranked #1 in the U.S., reached its 60-year milestone (est. 1950) and continues to offer graduate degrees to students from around the world. In addition, the prominently recognized Center for the Study of Higher Education surpassed its 40th year at Penn State (est. 1969). For decades, these two entities have provided many opportunities for students and faculty to develop research, test their higher education knowledge base, and share their findings with others.
The weekend events were planned and sponsored by the Higher Education Program Alumni Council (HEPAC). Alumni from Texas, South Carolina, Connecticut, and a number of other states met throughout the weekend. The opening Friday reception allowed guests to mingle and reminisce about days that have long gone by.
In concurrent presentations on Saturday morning, alumni and current students shared their research and information about their professional roles and responsibilities in higher education. Topics ranged from diversity issues, college presidencies, and institutional research, to global opportunities for students and faculty.
India McHale, a Ph.D. candidate, said “The HEPAC Alumni Weekend is a terrific reminder that we're all in it together, working for a common cause of improving and informing the study and practice of higher education. In addition, this event was one of those reminders that graduate students not only have a cheering section in the 'home office' of 400 Rackley, but also embedded within a network of alumni that reaches across the United States. It is my hope that we can continue to leverage this relationship in ways that are rewarding for students, alumni, and the program alike."
The fourteen students who attended the event received financial sponsorship from HEPAC that enabled them to attend the weekend’s activities.
As part of the Saturday celebration luncheon, Mike Dooris ’92 Ph.D. received the HEPAC Honorary Alumni Award in recognition for his valuable and diverse contributions to the field of higher education. Dooris is currently the director of planning, research, and assessment at Penn State and a Higher Education Program faculty member. He has been at Penn State since 1981 in a variety of positions, including in the University Budget Office and in Undergraduate Education. Previously, he worked as a statistician at the U.S. Census Bureau and in industry.
Dooris delivered the keynote luncheon address and described how his higher education program experience was highlighted by the people he met along the way and continues to meet from the program. He shared, "When good people come together, trying to do the right things, they can accomplish a lot. To me, that's what's wonderful about Penn State's higher education program: the people who have been associated with it in the past, and who are part of it today. I'm proud of all of you." Guests agreed!
At the Sunday send-off breakfast, alumni who brought their families and friends back to Happy Valley were grateful to connect with old friends and also to meet others. Chatter already occurred about when the next reunion event will take place. This is a telltale sign that the Higher Education Program anniversary celebration was a great success!