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The Communicator

Dean's Message

Ready to come roaring back!

As we prepare for the academic year ahead of us, I’ve been thinking about the last time the U.S. experienced something similar to what we’ve all living through. It was almost exactly a century ago. That “Spanish flu” pandemic is documented in a fascinating book by John M. Barry titled “The Great Influenza.”

As I consider the history from that era, I can’t help but think about what came on the heels of that pandemic and World War I — the “Roaring ’20s.” It has been characterized by historians as a “prosperity decade.”

Could we be on the brink of another “Roaring ’20s,” on the heels of this pandemic, a century later?

Historians have plenty of good reasons to warn us away from direct comparisons between then and now. If what will unfold in the next few months for the Bellisario College is any indicator, however, it will be a “roaring” decade for us! As I write this, our faculty and students are getting ready to return to in-person teaching and learning. We are also “getting back to business” by rebooting programs that were on hiatus in 2020, such as our Hollywood semester-in-residence and our embedded travel classes.

But that’s not all. Consider:

  • We are welcoming more than a dozen new faculty and staff members to our programs and departments.
  • Our $47 million media center is set to open to students in August. This will be the first time in history that our community will have a shared space to discover, collaborate and create.
  • The Daily Collegian, which operates independently but engages many of our students, will co-locate with us in the center as part of our converged newsroom operation.
  • Much-needed renovations on the ground and second floors of our historic and beloved “headquarters,” the Carnegie Building, will be complete by January 2022.
  • Our CommAgency is set to become a “chain,” with locations in the media center and in the University’s new Launchbox space in downtown.

    And that’s just in the next few months! Our strategic plan outlines a bold vision that emphasizes innovation, capitalizes on our expertise in such areas as ethics, and positions us to serve the University and the Commonwealth more powerfully through our news and multimedia operations.

    I’m grateful for the support of our alumni and friends during the past year. You mentored our students and stepped up to help us in many other ways. You’ve helped position us for this moment.

    Indeed, the Nittany Lions in the Bellisario College are roaring back! In the meantime, I hope you enjoy this edition of The Communicator.

    I hope to see you soon,

    Marie Hardin