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U.S. Senator Casey Honored for Contributions to Penn State

by on June 23, 2014 3:45 PM

United States Senator Robert Casey has tried not to forget the “almost incalculable impact” Penn State has on Pennsylvania in his work as the commonwealth’s senior U.S. senator.

For his advocacy and focus on the university during his two terms in the senate, Penn State President Eric Barron presented Casey with the ninth annual Friend of Penn State legislative award in a ceremony on campus Monday afternoon.

The award – a bronze arch bearing the words “Friend of Penn State” – is meant to symbolize the bridge between higher education and government, according to Penn State graduate and award designer Jeanne Stevens-Sollman. It has been awarded each year since 2006 to a legislator at the state or federal level whose work has positively influenced Penn State.

Barron told StateCollege.com that Penn State, as public and state-related institution, has a symbiotic relationship with both the state and federal government. As the university “serves our region and, increasingly, the whole nation” Barron says it’s important that Penn State continue to earn the allocations it receives from governmental organizations through its education and research.

“The senator’s district covers all of the commonwealth of Pennsylvania, as does Penn State in it’s own special way,” Barron said in Casey’s introduction. “We both work for the benefit of the very same people.”

During his time in the senate since 2007, Casey has been an advocate for Penn State’s extensive research efforts, helping to secure funds for the university’s research with the National Institute of Health and the Penn State Consortium for Building Energy Innovation, Barron says. Casey has also introduced or co-written a number of senate resolutions recognizing and honoring the success of Penn State academics, athletics and the Panhellenic Dance Marathon.

Casey told the crowd of university leaders, trustees and alumni gathered in the Hintz Family Alumni Center that he was “truly grateful and honored” to receive this award. Casey says both he and the university must to look to the future if Penn State is to continue to succeed.

“As an institution of higher learning, as a major economic force in our commonwealth and maybe most significantly as a research institution, Penn State is going to have a substantially bright future, but that won’t happen unless we all keep working together,” Casey says.

He told StateCollege.com that, given the sheer scope of issues he must contend with on a federal level, it can sometimes be difficult to ensure he accurately represents his diverse constituency and calls attention to the important work done at Penn State, which includes “research on everything from the human nervous system to honeybees.” 

Casey says while its important to ensure accountability for mistakes made during the Jerry Sandusky sex abuse case, “we also have to be sure to remind people of Penn State’s successes.”

“This award today is not only a great honor. It’s a reminder of what I have to do with my work in the senate to make sure Penn State is successful and consistent with our dreams for the future,” Casey says.

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Michael Garrett is a freelance reporter who covers a wide range of assignments for StateCollege.com.
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