Vondracek Named Interim Dean

Fred W. Vondracek, professor of human development, has been named interim dean of the College of Health and Human Development effective January 1, 2006. He served as associate dean for undergraduate studies and outreach under dean Raymond T. Coward and has been a member of the college’s faculty since 1969.

image of Dr. Fred Vondracek

A life member of the Penn State Alumni Association, Vondracek earned his Ph.D. in clinical psychology and the philosophy of science from Penn State in 1968. Upon completion of a post-doctoral internship with the U.S. Veterans Administration, he came back to Penn State and rose through the faculty ranks, culminating with his appointment as professor of human development. Along the way, he served in a number of administrative positions, including three years as director of the Division of Individual and Family Studies, from 1978 to 1981.

In addition to his extensive involvement in teaching and curriculum development, Vondracek has conducted an active program of research. He is the author or co-author of more than 80 journal articles and book chapters, and has authored or co-edited three books. He has also made numerous presentations to professional association meetings and conferences in the United States and abroad.

Vondracek’s appointment as interim dean follows the news that Raymond T. Coward, dean of the College of Health and Human Development since 2000, has been appointed executive vice president and provost at Utah State University effective January 2, 2006.

During his tenure as dean, Coward oversaw the creation of several programs to enhance the college's undergraduate student experience. In addition to developing JumpStart, a 36-hour, off-campus orientation program for first-year students, Coward and his colleagues established the Women's Leadership Initiative for female students. He helped create a mentoring program that matches students with alumni "coaches" in professions related to students' fields of study. He and his colleagues have worked to enlarge and improve the college's honors program, resulting in a nearly 65-percent increase in the number of college undergraduates co-enrolled in the Schreyer Honors College.

At the same time, the college adopted a new organizational structure, establishing a School of Hospitality Management and a Department of Recreation, Park and Tourism Management, and two new college-sponsored centers were developed, the Center for Childhood Obesity Research and the Capital Area Health and Human Development Institute.

One of Coward's administrative achievements focused on improving College of Health and Human Development facilities, including completion of the Bennett Family Child Care Center, a major renovation of student and office space in the Recreation Building and the renovation of the Living Center in Henderson Building. During this time, the college also initiated architectural planning for three new buildings and the major renovation of a fourth.

Under Coward's guidance, the college expanded international partnerships, establishing cooperative agreements with the University of Jonkoping in Sweden and the Friedrich Schiller University in Jena, Germany. The college also launched an online nursing degree program in collaboration with Penn State's World Campus. Additionally, the college's external funding portfolio grew by 151 percent and the college's philanthropic donations increased by 21 percent.

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Editors: For additional information, please contact the College of Health and Human Development Office of College Relations at (814) 865-3831 or healthhd@psu.edu.