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Published on: Aug 4, 2020

A new virtual event series launched earlier this year by the College of Health and Human Development has become a hub of activity for interactive engagement among friends and alumni of the Penn State community. The “HHD On Location: Home Edition” events, which feature discussions between an assortment of faculty, staff and alumni from the college, serve as a forum for timely and invigorating conversations — all geared toward making a difference in how Penn Staters live their lives.

The series was launched this spring after the coronavirus pandemic disrupted the colleges’ in-person programming originally slated to take place this summer and fall in regions all across the country.

“This summer’s HHD On-Location series features a wide range of health and wellness topics of broad interest to the University community and beyond,” said Brent Hurley, director of alumni relations in the College of Health and Human Development. “During these stressful times, we hope the programs can be a helpful resource for our alumni and friends. I’ve been amazed at the enthusiasm and participation so far.”

The online events follow three formats.

'Coffee with Craig'

“Coffee with Craig” is an hour-long, unscripted conversation between Craig. J. Newschaffer, Raymond E. and Erin Stuart Schultz Dean of the College of Health and Human Development, and a member of the HHD community. These wide-ranging discussions not only explore timely and relevant topics, but also give attendees a chance to learn more about the personalities, backstories and career journeys of featured guests.

Fly-fishing expert George Daniel, instructor in the Department of Kinesiology and director of Penn State’s fly fishing program, recently appeared in this series to share his experience, offer some tips and talk about the program’s unique history at Penn State. He spoke about his journey to becoming an accomplished fly fisherman, from his initial forays into the sport along a small tributary near his home at the age of six to competing at the World Fly Fishing Championships for Team USA. Daniel recounted the rich history of fly fishing at Penn State, stretching back to George Harvey’s informal angling instruction in the 1930s, which was formalized and accredited in 1947 as the first university fly fishing course in the nation.

'Lunch and Learn'

The second category of programming, “Lunch and Learn,” delivers a 30-minute, skills-based program featuring guests who share expertise and life lessons gleaned from their professional experience. Held over the lunch hour, these succinct events deliver useful and concrete takeaways.

Recently, Amit Sharma, professor of hospitality management and finance, sat down with Chef George Ruth, senior instructor in the School of Hospitality Management, to share cooking advice. Ruth offered suggestions for how to stock the pantry during the pandemic; how to plan grocery purchases with apps; and how to identify fresh fruits and vegetables in their normal growing season.

“With more of us cooking at home, it’s the perfect time to experiment in the kitchen and expand your palette,” Ruth explained during the program.

'Faculty Research Spotlights'

The third category, “Faculty Research Spotlights,” features hour-long presentations that showcase faculty research in layman’s terms.

Jennie Noll, professor of human development and family studies and director of the Child Maltreatment Solutions Network, recently appeared on the program to address the topic of child abuse recovery and how scientific insights can inform public policy. In the interactive conversation that followed her formal presentation, Noll praised Penn State as the nation’s foremost leader in child maltreatment research.

“The leadership at Penn State realized they had a unique opportunity to mobilize resources to help children who have been neglected or victimized,” she said. “We’ve crafted research-driven intervention strategies that are making a difference in the lives of children.”

Upcoming Events

All three series will continue to feature faculty, staff and alumni from the College of Health and Human Development for the remainder of the summer and into the fall. Upcoming guests include:

  • Charlene Morett-Curtiss, head coach of the women’s field hockey program and Penn State alumna, who will speak about her journey to the Olympics
  • Eric Handley, director of the Golf Teaching and Research Center, who will review the mechanics of a strong golf swing
  • Derrick Taff, assistant professor in the Department of Recreation, Park and Tourism Management, who will discuss ecological stewardship of our national parks
  • Janice Light, professor in the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders, who holds the Hintz Family Endowed Chair in Children's Communicative Competence.

For a list of upcoming events, and to view the archive of past events, visit the College of Health and Human Development Alumni Virtual Events web page.