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Dear PSU Altoona: Congrats

Penn State Altoona says its mission is “to cultivate a vibrant learning environment through excellence in teaching, research, creative activities, outreach and the advancement of personal, social and intellectual growth.”

The campus further states that it seeks “to empower a diverse student body with the knowledge and skills to be critical thinkers, lifelong learners and civically-engaged global citizens.”

With the campus having marked its 80th anniversary on Sept. 13, anyone familiar with this local higher-education gem can attest that it is doing all that, while at the same time being a strong economic partner, not only within the immediate Altoona metropolitan area, but also far beyond.

The anniversary milestone was commemorated last week.

Amid that, it is not standing still, as its history of growth since its roots were planted on Sept. 13, 1939, in the Webster Grade School Building in downtown Altoona has clearly shown.

Penn State Altoona cannot be characterized as just a rural or suburban college anymore because, despite still being centered in the area that once housed the former Ivyside Amusement Park in Logan Township, it also has branched back to center city Altoona as a means for expanding its educational offerings.

Students not only have the opportunity to study within a relaxed, pleasant environment without myriad distractions, but many also have the opportunity to experience learning within the hustle and bustle of an urban business world surrounding their learning venues.

There is educational value in experiencing both settings, experiencing the logistical challenges that go along with each — helping students to decide eventually what kind of work environment they will prefer after graduation.

Witnessing Altoona in both settings cultivates understanding of many local opportunities that most students might not otherwise recognize.

A Sept. 14 Mirror article dealing with the campus’ 80th anniversary noted that Penn State Altoona is offering a new degree destined to grow in importance with each passing year — clear evidence that campus leaders’ emphasis is not only on improving and expanding physical facilities but also firmly committed to keeping the campus in step with the needs of a changing world.

That new degree is cybersecurity analytics and operations, whose aim is to prepare students for defending against cybercrime, attacks on infrastructure, information warfare and cyberterrorism.

The time will come when officials in the highest levels of the U.S. government will be looking routinely to Altoona for the human resources needed to deal with such important operations.

The availability of the degree also no doubt will encourage many students from afar to enroll here rather than look elsewhere — thus helping to improve the local economy as well as further strengthen the campus.

Penn State Altoona over the years has benefited greatly from the generosity of benefactors who recognized the campus’ importance to young people entering life beyond high school, as well as the future of Blair County as a whole.

But the campus could not have achieved its current greatness without the talented leaders who shepherded the campus from its meager beginnings in the Webster building to the dynamic institution of higher learning that currently exists.

The next 80 years portend many wonderful possibilities outside the realm of what can now be anticipated, envisioned or comprehended.

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