FTG 0031 – What is a Dean? A Homecoming Chat with Honors College Dean & Materials Scientist Patrick T. Mather ’89

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Overview:

Dr. Patrick T. Mather ’89, ’90g Engineering is the fourth Dean of the Schreyer Honors College. Dean Mather returned to Dear Old State after a career that was launched with the US Air Force Research Lab and several stops with increasing responsibility in academia including the University of Connecticut, Case Western Reserve University, Syracuse University, and most recently Bucknell University, where he served as the Dean of Engineering. He earned his B.S. with honors and M.S. degrees from Penn State in Engineering Science and Engineering Mechanics, respectively, following which he went on to receive his Ph.D. in Materials at U.C. Santa Barbara in 1994. “Dean Pat” joined Following the Gong to share his career story and life & career advice for Scholars from his unique perspectives as both an alum and as Dean – including lessons in materials science, the thesis, liquid crystals, academia, and leadership. He also shares his musical talents in this episode recorded live in Atherton Hall’s famed Grandfather Clock Lounge. You can read Dean Pat’s full bio and a more detailed breakdown of the episode topics below.

Guest Bio:

Dr. Patrick T. Mather currently serves as the fourth Dean of the Schreyer Honors College at Penn State. Dean Mather earned his B.S. with honors (’89) and M.S. (‘90) degrees from Penn State in Engineering Science and Engineering Mechanics, respectively, following which he went on to receive his Ph.D. in Materials at U.C. Santa Barbara in 1994 with dissertation research focused on the rheology of liquid crystals. Following work as materials research engineer for Air Force Research Lab, Mather’s academic career has included University of Connecticut, Case Western Reserve University, and Syracuse University, where he helped to create and serve as director of the Syracuse Biomaterials Institute, a sustainable, interdisciplinary effort with 20+ faculty spanning three institutions and seven departments. From 2016 to 2021, Pat served as Dean of Engineering at Bucknell University, where he enjoyed the opportunities and challenges of academic leadership, with a particular focus on inclusive excellence. In 2021 returned to his academic roots at Penn State to become the dean of Schreyer Honors College and professor of Chemical Engineering. Mather’s research interests center around smart materials, including shape memory polymers, self-healing materials, polymeric nanocomposites, and biodegradable polymers for medical devices. He is the author of over 160 peer-reviewed papers, inventor on more than 40 patents, and Fellow of both SPE (Society of Plastics Engineering) and the AIMBE (American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering). Pat is the Editor-in-Chief for Polymer Reviews. He has won several student-nominated teaching awards and prides himself on innovative and engaging teaching methods. Pat and his wife Tara Mather enjoy spending time with their blended family of five grown children (and too many cats to count). You can often catch Tara and Pat out on the road distance running or tandem cycling.

Episode Specifics:

In this episode, Dean Mather shares his insights on:

· Choosing a pragmatic major when you are “not an academic” in high school

· Leveraging general education courses (“electives”) to engage in interests outside your major

· Finding res

· Research opportunities in your passion area – and why epoxy is important for aircraft, and not just crafts!

· Thoughts on the honors thesis process as both alum and Dean

· Pursuing passions outside your major – like playing in a band as an engineering student

· What it’s like to stay an extra year to complete a master’s degree at University Park

· Perspectives on the unique opportunities of graduate education

· A crash course on liquid crystals from a subject matter expert

· Paying for graduate education – and how to get assistance in a crisis for current Scholars

· Going into academia – especially after time in industry – and adjusting to becoming a teacher

· Taking the next step in academia by founding and leading an interdisciplinary research center

· Moving up to the Dean level – and what exactly that involves

· How Dean Mather prepared to take on a leadership role like the Deanship at Bucknell, and resources Scholars can use in their own leadership roles on campus

· The nuts and bolts of actually being hired as a Dean

· What the Dean is and does – and how this directly impacts Scholars daily

· Practical and philosophical advice on negotiating offers (jobs, internships, research, etc.)

· Identifying, developing, and defining your personal values and vision

· A musical interlude with our multi-talented Dean

· Reflections on professional mistakes and taking risks

· The importance of not being too hard on yourself

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Credits & Notes:

This content is available in text form here.

This show is hosted, produced, and edited by Sean Goheen ‘11 Lib (Schreyer).

The artwork was created by Tom Harrington, the College’s Web Developer.

The sound effect is “Chinese Gong,” accessed via SoundBible used under Creative Commons License.

The theme music is “Conquest” by Geovane Bruno, accessed via Pixabay and used under Creative Commons License.

Greeting Scholars, and welcome to Following the Gong, a podcast of the Shire Honors College at Penn State. Following the Gone takes you inside conversations with our scholar alumni to hear their story so you can gain career in life advice and it spanned your professional network. You can hear the true breadth of how Schollar alumni have gone on to shape the world after they ran the Gone and graduated with honors, and learn from their experiences so you can use their insights in your own journey. This show is probably sponsored by the Scholar Alumni Society, a constituent group of the Penn State Alumni Association. I'm your host, Shawan Jheen, class of two thousand eleven and college staff member. If this is your first time joining us, welcome. If you're a regular listener, welcome back. Dr Patrick T. Mather Class is the fourth Dean of the Fire Honors College at Penn State. Demada returned to dear Old State after a career that was launched with the US Air Force Research Lab and several stops with increasing responsibility in academia, including the University of Connecticut, Case Western Reserve University, Syracuse University and most recently Bucknell University, where he served as the dean of Engineering. He earned his BS with honors and m s degrees from Penn State and Engineering Science and Engineering Mechanics, respectively, following which he went on to receive his PhD in materials at U see Santa Barbara. Dean Pet joined following the gallum to share his career story and life and career advice for scholars from his unique perspective as both an alum and as dean, including lessons and material Science, the Thesis Liquid Crystals, Academia, and leadership. He also shares his musical talents in this episode, recorded live in Atherton Hall's famed Grandfather Clock Lounge. You can read Dean pets full bio and a more detailed breakdown in the show notes on your podcast app. With that, let's dive right into our conversation with Dean Patrick Mother following the gong. The musical style ins you were hearing is none other than Shryer Honors College, Dean Patrick T. Mather, Dean Mother, thank you for joining me here on falling the gone. It's straight to sit here with you in person in the Grandfather Clock lounge here in Atherton Hall, and we're going to chat about your story as both an alum and as a dean of the college. But to tell that story and proper, I want to go back to high school. Pat. So, how did you begin your Penn State journey? What brought you here? CIRCA? Sure, it's great to be here, particularly in gran grandfather Clock Lounge, which feels very much like home to me and then to you as well. I'm sure. Um, so you mentioned high school. I was not really an academic in high school. I was um, quite social. I liked to run, although I wasn't really an athlete. I was mostly a musician and my uh part of my identity was in a band called the Cassabas, and I was the lead guitarist. And I had some aspirations to make a go of it as a music career, maybe ten eleventh grade. But my father was sort of a coach and a mentor. Uh. He didn't go to college, but he was um wise enough to suggest, Hey, you know that physics class you took that you sort of enjoyed, Maybe there's a direction, uh you can take related to that. So I pondered physics. I didn't do that great math to be perfectly honest. But um, in my limited explorations, I settled on engineering, and I knew Penn State was a great engineering school. We were a huge Nitneylines fans where I grew up in Westchester, Pennsylvania. So applied to a couple of places. And I'll remember to this day when I UM, I was working at a supermarket. I was a checker at Furies Supermarket. My mom brought the letter from Penn State down. I had to, you know, asked my customer to pause for a moment and I opened the letter and it was an acceptance. There was hugs, tears, uh, and um and that's all she wrote. So I was, you know, immediately upon getting accepted to Penn State, I decided to go there and major and originally electrical engineering, which wasn't exactly for me. Um, but I did. I did well in my first year, well enough to get like the President's Freshman Award and and Engineering Science invited me into their fold. Ah. I still remember that letter, which was after my first year. I was down at the shore, I think Avalan or Stone Harbor and uh, and I saw the word research and I asked my dad and my siblings. You know what is what his research.

I kind of heard of this before, and as I looked into it, I got sold on the fact that research was curiosity driven, clean slate, the ability to apply what you're learning in the classroom into sort of hands on stuff. And uh so that was the beginning of where I am today. I can literally trace my entire arc of professional life all the way back to that moment of joining Engineering Science and thereby the University Scholars program. Yes, I wouldn't ask about that. How did you actually go about becoming a scholar? Just accepting that invitation? I as a first generation college student, I wasn't seeking things out. I just got lucky things found me. I did work hard. I was fairly shy in my first year, so I still remember Friday nights at the library practicing calculus problems that Um it wasn't all I did. Believe me. I had some typical for your mischief going on. But I I in terms of entering into the University Scholars program, and it was through uh engineering science seeing and me great potential and given that I was willing and interested in research, Um, that was a great match. What I came to learn also was UM, and it didn't influence my original decision, but wow, this is great. The professors in these smaller classes, not just engineering classes, but the electives I took no my name, they couldn't hide. For example, I remember a class i'll paraphrase the title the Great American Novel Uh. But I also took a poetry class. I took a really cool class on American comedy. And what I loved was the engagement, the conversations. They read my journal entries and all of this made uh, my nascent emergence as an intellectual really enjoyable, and I found my identity sort of started to take on from just guitar player, musician. Hey maybe I'm also uh an intellectual or a scholar or something like that. That was UM, Now that I look back, that was starting to become part of my my clothing, my my tapestry, my identity. So you talked about all these littal arts electives that you were able to take as part of the general education curriculum, and you originally were pursuing electrical engineering, but ultimately you found your way into engineering science. And I've heard you describe yourself as a material science or a material scientist, I should say, so, how did you discover that? Was that through some experience on campus? Walk us through that process of like what lit that bulb for you? Well, I will say what it was not. It was not a class. I took a class called material science and I gotta be in it. For those of you listening, the dean of the Honors pods just said he got to be in a class. It is okay to get a beat and it became my passion also. So it was a major um and that was That was frustrating at the time, but I did sort of see, okay, there's some cool stuff going on there. But if I got exposed to material science as as a discipline in a hands on way, at some point I found out I needed to do a thesis. Um, just like okay, I got to a thesis. So I met with some professors in this uh professor named Tom han h A h N who he was here at Engineering Science and Mechanics. He's uh now I think he's still at u c L A UH. He had an uh an opportunity, pretty big lab in the lowest level, I guess you call it the basement of Hammond Building. That I toured and I got to meet his team, and it was like one of those moments you probably have a few in your own life where the kind of like look around up downs, that's like, I've never seen anything like this, like the first time you see a live band, or the first time you go to like this or an amusement park. That was that moment for me. And I saw a machinery. I saw just a hustle and bustle lab coats, uh noise, high ceiling machinery. And then I met this PhD student named Song Chew who took me under his wing. He assumed I already accepted joining the labs, is okay, when can you start? And and I was like, okay, I guess this is how this rolls. Monday, So all of a sudden, I was in this lab and we were making a POxy. You've probably used a POxy for crafts or whatever. I studied this project that Song told me about how apoxy cures from a liquid to a solid and this is important for aircraft. It's like, okay, I never really knew they were glue and aircraft. Modern aircraft now use composites that have a apoxy matrix. And the thing that really hooked me was he says, we're going to use sound to study that. It's like, oh my God, the marriage of my passion for music. And so it didn't really turn out that it had anything to do with music. It was sound. And...

...we used sound waves propagating through a POxy to um to measure the advancement from liquid to solid. And you might already know this, but if you don't, the speed that by which sound propagates through water other liquids is slower than it propagates through like steel or plastic. And so just by monitoring measuring that simple thing, the sound speed through a medium, can give you a measure of the advancement of the cure state of the material. And so I spent a couple of years doing precisely that. I guess the the negative Nelly way of describing that as I watched or I listened to glue dry. But it was much more exciting to that, and I would show everybody my results whoever it was willing to listen. And as a senior, once I turned twenty one, one of the PhD students and I his name was Scott White, rest his soul. We would hang out a cafe to ten West Cafe West UH. And I at that point I was like, I got I felt like I was a scientist and we would pontificate over you know, a beer about what the future of the field was that I was one year in here, I am thirty five years in UH, still working on these problems that started way back then. And you mentioned the thesis and I think your these was was probably related to this particular research. Can you offer your insights on the thesis process, the research writing it, and what advice you have for scholars as they're navigating that process that both of both of us have gone through. I can describe it at the moment when I was doing it and now looking back the moment. It was a requirement for me, but it was a welcome requirement because my colleagues and not my classmates and I we did it together. I still remember there was a computer lab that we would We were pretty disciplined as a group to have like these writing sessions at the You might if you've ever seen the sort of a computer museum, the Macintosh as it had just come out. The you know, there was a mouse, so what's what's a mouse? You know, and then a little bit we had the Mac plus, I think, so we sat around the room and we would just have like these writing sessions and making progress. I think my thesis ended up being I know, sixty or seventy pages something like that. But we we definitely took the building block approach. Let's get a couple of pages done and then we can work on other things together. We were great friends and engineering signs. And one thing I did realize that I enjoyed a lot was the artistic element of writing a thesis. So I had these graphs of sound speed versus time and variations thereof, and I really took great pleasure in a graph well constructed. And then what I found is whenever I had a graph made, I could start to build a storyboard like you would if you're making a movie. And so I would lay out these graphs that I would print out in the computer lab and say, well, what is the story? And my my professor helped a little bit, but this became sort of the artistic element for me that that really drove the writing of each chapter. And so once I had these images, I was so proud of and I wanted to convey to my professor, the other grad students in my classmates, the story the thesis began to write itself, as shown in Figure two. We're plotting sounds be versus and and it just rolled out. And this is the advice I have always given to my PhD students, my undergraduate researchers, is work on the storyboard and the thesis, writing it practically where its itself. Because you just imagine, as Sean, if you were sitting next to me and I had ten figures, that might be how I describe. And if you just hit the record button virtually or actually, then you can write these paragraphs and priests. I mean, if you take that approach, it's ten pages a week, and to pull that off and it's it's um, it's enjoyed, oiable. Now as I look back and over time, I've come to realize and this is this won't come as news to you or many of our listeners, but writing is an extension of thinking. In fact, it's a it's a way to get what you think you have figured out in your head. Uh. It really tests that when the moment you take figuratively pen to paper, it really tests the logic that they might you might seem to have everything figured out as soon as you try to draw a conclusion like hm hmm, that doesn't act A plus B does not equal see as I've written it. What that says to me is there's power in writing, whether it's your daily journal or your thesis, and it needs to be done as you do research, because if you try to do it just at the end, sort of like I did, as as when I wrote my senior thesis, my Honters thesis, it's risky business because you're writing itself will introduce questions...

...you didn't pose when you're in the lab or in the studio. So you better get some of that writing done as you go, Oh my gosh, I need to do this other experiment because I really want to be able to write this sentence and authentically believe it, uh and and it be proven. So I always recommend a living document that has a paragraph here, a figure there, um, and type as you go. Um. I think the students that really thrive in this area are writing as the data the experiments rolling. Just see what can you say about that? In one paragraph a day is kind of a good pace early, and then it accelerates from their great advice for those of you listening, both of us have done it. Definitely, do not wait until the last minute to complete your thesis. Now, Pat, you mentioned you spend some time at cafe down on College av so obviously you weren't always in Petite Library. You weren't always in the lab. Were there any other things that you were involved in on campus trying to in our mission tenant of creating opportunities for leadership, pensive engagement, or just finding ways to relax and enjoyed the fact you were a Penn State student. So, Um, I did lots of things. Now that I'm back at Penn stide, I realized how little I did because, as you know, somebody further along in life. I realized, oh my god, Center County State College, Um, the Commonwealth at large is a playground. Like I'm a runner, I love outdoors, I love Hi. I didn't do any hiking when I was here as a student. I can't believe I didn't. But I did do uh, lots of engaging things. We had a student or Society of Engineering Science that I was one of, the sort of. I was never the president, but I I did help run the meetings. I had some title. UM and what I really loved um work, working doing work on behalf of the other students. I drew some fulfillment from doing that, and I learned some early chops about how to how to organize a meeting and that kind of thing, and so pretty good at this. Uh, even though I'm an introverted person. I found fulfillment enough fulfillment in doing that that it was worth sort of the the stretch for my natural state of being. So I did that on campus UM. I also joined a band called Absolute Fifth. I think I joined that band in my second year UM, and that went for a few years and we would play downtown at most of the bars. We played in a few fraternities Top forty but during the eighties, which I think was fantastic music. So and basically I played electric guitar, UM, some rhythm guitar, some lead guitar, and I would do vocals on talking heads, the cars, things that were kind of in my range and a little bit like nothing like Journey or anything like that where where you actually needed a good voice. But um so, and I don't know how we had like eighty songs. We could do. Nothing was written down. If I tried to play all these songs like from memory. Now, no way my brain, my year old brain would wouldn't be able to handle it. But nineteen year old me could remember your eighty songs no problem. And we we had a blast doing that. And that was my main social life, um, which was great for a somewhat introverted personality. I could engage in that community but not have sort of the social pressures that would be introduced as soon as I would take the guitar off of my body, you know, and and have to engage in in that kind of world, which was not my comfort zone. Now you mentioned you have this love for State College, for Happy Valley, for Center County. You actually stayed the next year year here to complete your master's degree. What was that experience like? Oh? That was it was different? So um, I loved it. So in my fifth year, I was a graduate student, so a master student in the same research group, but it was like the experience was night and day. I had far fewer classes to take, so I had a lot more freedom to spend time doing my new love, which was being in a lab and taking taking a deeper dive on my research. And I felt like in the group I was in the things. I would say, we're in an elevated level. People be like, oh, he's the expert on this, and I just felt a different stature. On the personal side, I moved from a town house I had shared with my roommate all through undergrad marks Roken I um great friends that that was great. I moved in with other grad students that were more in my discipline. I got more into cooking. Then I had to kind of feed myself more than like when we Uh, I don't know his undergrads. I don't know what I did, but so I kind of got into more adult living. But I still didn't have a car. I was always on the kata for everything. At my entire five years at Penn State, I just got around on kata, which was cool. I mean I did have to know the schedule. I had that yellow catapas for five years. Um so and and then I wrote a master's...

...thesis that by that time I knew. I knew it, I knew how that works, and uh, if I go by extension into PhD um, I was able to complete a PhD in just three and a half years because I knew where the average is like five or six years. I just was all business all the time from day one. It was amazing. I went to University of California at Santa Barbara. I learned about it through some faculty at Penn State. The materials program at Santa Barbara was highly ranked in vassu Vera Dan, one of my professors and engineering science. I was comparing Cornell and ucs B and uh. She very promptly told me to go to ucs B, not because of the institution, but because of the discipline that was available to me their materials versus mechanics. She said, oh, yeah, materials has so many opportunities for you, and you've already got some experience in that UM and I had a brochure, so they invited me. I had gotten an n D s EG fellowship. UM that's kicked in while I was still at Penn State. I didn't know what that. Somebody encouraged me to apply. I got a p stipend to do research. I was happy that I got that. I didn't know that it had national meaning meaning. So when I applied to ucs B, I think within days they accepted me. And later they told me, well, you came with money, why would we not, you know not. And I had some strong credentials through through Penn State UM. And what I found there was a whole different way of living. Instead of katabus, I was bicycle every rode my bike. I did eventually get a car, but I rode my bike everywhere there was trails to get to work. And there I learned how to do design. And that was where sort of the artistic, creative side of me really came to life. Uh. And the reason I needed to do design and I didn't do that much of it as an undergraduate, like true like engineering design, I did some of it, but there I needed to make something that My professor said, here's the project study how liquid crystals deform and flow, and to do that, you need to make them flow and you need to look at them under the microscopes. I said, okay, how do I do that? He said, well, that's the problem. We don't have a microscope to do that, and we don't have a flow machine. So I said, okay, So I couldn't do my research until I built the equipment to do the research. It's almost like getting a job to be an astronomer, and sorry, you have to build the telescope to you know, it's exactly what it was like. So I spent a year working with Hans Rudy Stubor, this amazing head of the physics machine shop at Santa Barbara. He um very sophisticated, he loved life, and so we would have a cappuccino and talk about my design, and then we would go into the shop and start drawing. Said, young man, you need to learn how to do you know, engineering drawings. So he taught me all on paper, not a single computer, layering those thin pieces of paper you can see through. And eventually I had this amazing three dimensional design of a rayological microscope. The raeological was the flow and the microscope was the looking at microstructures. And after about a year that thing was built and it existed and boom. I was like, oh my god, I have a thing in front of me that enables me to do experiments nobody else in the world can do. And it was in my mind and now it's on the table, and that was transformative for me. And I hope any scholar, whether you're first year's student or a graduate student or experienced scientists, can experience the joy of of making something that never existed before, and then it worked. So, Um, I you can't see this on the podcast, but I'm smiling now because the memories of that those weeks when it first worked and we were getting data and nobody else had available to them, sort of like the web telescope. It's like, oh, nobody's seen this before. The data was on the images that were coming up on the screen for me, nobody had ever looked at before. So everything was immediately publishable. It was, of course with peer review. Uh. But it was a moment of absolute joy combined with hope because I knew, oh, this is going to work. I will get a PhD. And I will get to share the news of this interesting science for those interested in liquid crystals, uh, And it and it worked. So for those of us who have no engineering background, what is Zach really do...

...use liquid crystals for? Liquid crystals have the optics of crystalline materials and the mobility of a liquid like water. And in society they're used in displays like your computer. Uh, you have liquid crystal right in front of you. Uh. And the reason liquid crystals are used in displays is that with a tiny little electric field, you can rotate the molecules from one direction to another, and that makes a pixel a certain color. And so since locally the you can differentiate which pixels have the rotation, you can have images the screen of a word document or a picture. And that that was transformative for the computer world. Uh And since then liquid crystal displays and liquid crystal technology has appeared. And like privacy shields, if you ever see windows that change their shade, the shading automatically generally under an electrical stimulus, so apply electric field, the molecules rotate, they look different. So if you are using a laptop or listening on your phone right now, you can thank Dean Matther for contributing to that. I have my laptop up here with my questions for the dean, So thank you, Pat for your contributions to that. To that field. Happy to help you. So you didn't initially go into academia, though with your PhD you actually went into a kind of a public private role on all you explain it. But how did you go about landing that first job after you after you got your PhD. That's a great question. You know, as a first ten student, like I always felt responsible for paying for my education. So I didn't realize in grads a lot of grad students they get like teaching assistant ships or somehow they get funding through their professors. I didn't. Nobody told me that trick. So as my UM, so I applied for fellowship from the government that helped me get through part of my PhD. And then I saw the money was okay, I'm not done my PhD yet. Uh. And I didn't even feel like I could go to my professor and say, hey, what are we gonna do about this financial situation? So I started just looking, well, how can I raise money? And I in a conversation on campus somebody said, hey, have you heard about the Palace Night program? Because I was explaining what am I going to do about money? So what's the Palace Night program? He says, Oh, if you're interested in UM federally federal labs like Department of Energy, Department of Defense, uh, Department of Commerce, they actually want to recruit PhD UM students into their laboratories so that after you have your PhD, you can be a staff member doing really cool government research, government funded research. So okay, and Palace Night was specifically for the Air Force, so I did some reading about, well, what's the Air Force up to? I never really thought of science connecting to air Force, if it may sort of makes sense for the Air Force to do all the amazing things it does to protect us. There's technology everywhere, and not just in the aircraft. So I found that, oh, there's basic research being done by all of the Department of Defense agencies, the Air Force being very strong in that area. And I found out they even have a project related to liquid crystals, not for displays, but for structural components that are lightweight for rockets in particular. So I bud a bang. I found out that, oh, they would pay for the rest of my PhD if I committed to joining their lab for like three years for every one year that they supported me. And so I looked into it still further. My professor drove drove with me to Edwards Air Force Base, which is north of Los Angeles, and got to see the lab. It was up on a mountain. Why is it on the mountain because that's where they do rocket test firing. It's like, oh, I got to see you know, rocket engine And I said, this is a great deal. I don't I'm not done my PhD yet, but I will have a job at that lab doing liquicstal research for a decent salary. And and that's how I ended up doing UM not as a civilian, doing basic research for the Department of Defense, particularly the Air Force, and it was all about not about fighter jets. It was all about their mission to UH to deploy satellites in space for the Department of Defense and all the materials issues associated with making that happen. And I did. I ended up doing that for five years. I want to go back to one point you were talking about earlier with the funding. I think I've said this on previous episodes, but a piece of advice I always give to students says, you're probably paying for your undergrad maybe your families helping you, maybe have scholarships or loans. Always, if possible, with maybe the exception of law school or medical school, get somebody else to pay for your graduate education. That can be a t A or an r A like like Pat was saying, or if you're going back for an NBA, get your employer to pay for a lot of...

...employers offer benefits like that, So pursue that if you can. But as when you put your dean hat on for a minute here. If a student is experiencing a situation like yours at the undergrad level and their scholar, what can they what can we do for them in Honors College to help them if they're in a sticky situation. I would say the first um um piece of advice is to speak up uh if if you remember nothing else's uh for For those current scholars or future scholars listening, UH, there is a staff member here for you. You can start with me. My door is always open and I can point you in the right direction to help you find resources. Sean, You're You're absolutely right that UM. Every situation is a little different, so the conversation is really important. Tell me more. You know, what are your interests and what might you be eligible for financial support? Um and UH. There are so many different sources and we don't expect our students to know all of that information by But if you take the first step to reach out to one of us, just go to our website and you'll see who to make an appointment with. We try to make that as easy to navigate is is possible. Um uh and if but if you do meet with challenges, just send me a note PTM one on one at PSU dot EVU, come to my office hours, come to demon don't us with the dean, sorry, and and and I'll set you in the right direction. Our staff are here, by definition for scholar success. Sometimes part of that success sometimes or often it has a financial element to it, just like it did for me, just like I'm sure it did for you. Uh um. You know, we live in a world where you know, you have to pay the bills. Sometimes that is very challenging. And so we're here for you and we um um where we feel very fulfilled when we connect students with pathways to success, whether it be financial or academic advice. Well you heard what to do if you are in a situation like that and how to at help. Now I want to go back to your journey, pet. You did eventually obviously get into academia, since you, as we just mentioned, are the dean of the Honors College. So what drew you to get into academia from the Air Force research that you were doing and how did you go about that? And tell us about those first couple of roles that you had prior to Syracuse, because I want to talk about that one specifically once we get through this next stage in your story. Sure, um, I never pictured myself as a professor when I was at Penn State. I did have a couple experiences that sort of planted seeds. However, I was a t a for a class called Engineering Graphics, I think in my junior year, and boy did I love that. I love being able to help students navigate the laboratory that they were in building circuits and whatnot. So I found that very fulfilling and then just bookmarked that and never really thought about it much. Uh. And then when it came to CALCU three, I forget what the number is. I really got calcul three. Somehow that just jelled with my brain. So I knew vector calculus like the back of my hand. And I did find informally that I helped my classmates do well in that class by chalkboard kinds of late night studying, I was like, and they were very appreciative of that, and I felt that fulfillment of just helping them succeed, and I benefited from the reinforced knowledge of that field that I really liked the vector calculus so then, but I really held faculty as a whole different breed that that I was not a member of. Sorry to mix metaphors there, but I just did not identify as being a faculty member because they were so smart. Uh, even though I was a scholar and got a PhD. Still, you know, I just meant, you know, I just did the work. You know, I just did the work and got my PhD. Uh. Now, fast forward, I was publishing a lot as an Air Force scientists. So I was at meetings Materials Research Society, American Chemical Society, you name it. I was out a lot presenting my work, primarily just to tell the story. This is cool data, you know, and the Air Force is doing really cool things in this area. They I was doing basic research and not much of it was either patented or published in peer review journal articles. And this this gentleman named Bob Weiss, who's professor at the University of Connecticut, approached me after my talk one time. He said, you would be great in the classroom, and I saw took a step back, and uh we were having lunch. I said, I never uh never even dawned on me, like, tell me more. He said, Well, the way you explain things, you really bring it down to a level for the that works for the audience, and your enthusiasm is infectious. Obviously you're a good scientists, you'd probably be able to get funding for your research. Was part of being a successful professor who says I came to learning out of motivation. They were hiring, They're hiring in kind of my...

...area of polymer science, and so just just apply. I think, you know, Um he said, I'm not even on the search committee, but if you applied, I bet you you would be a good candidate. So I applied and I got the job, and um, I was scared. I was so scared. Well, first of all, I had to go from a twelve month salary with the Air Force to what academia pays is a nine month salary to professors. And what they told me at the time, which is true still today, is if you get funding for your research, what happens is that each grant can probably be constructed, so you get one month of summer salary for that grand So if you can get three grants, you can have a twelve months salary based on the edition of your academic salary in your summer salary. So what it boiled down to is the decision is do I have faith enough in my ideas that I will be able to reconstruct twelve months of salary? And so I'm inhaling because I remember them. It's like a leap of faith. And the faith was in do I have faith in my ideas? And it was it was a thing to be debated and to be thought about, and I went for it, and boy it worked out really well. So I got lots of funding I had financially it was it was fine, you know, uh, And I felt good that people care enough about my ideas. And National Science Foundation, I got a career award air Force. I got a Basic Science Award, which is funding, and I quickly grew a group that was highly successful patenting publishing. I was off to the races teaching. When I first got in the classroom, I was so scared, but I came to learn it was not I was not scared about can I teach them polymer science or thermo dynamics. It was these are thirty strangers. I'm about to walk into a room with the same fear I had there as walking into any social situation with a bunch of strangers. So once I figured that out there, I was like Okay, I just need to get to know every student one at a time, and then the fear completely diffuses. These are just normal human beings that want to learn and uh so, and that's been my approach ever since that first couple of years of academia, that start with relationships and then the learning can happen. Now I have a question that I didn't have, but your your comments, I think very Obviously a lot of our students are drawn to the Honors College for the research opportunities, much like you were. Now, can you expwin the difference between how you go about picking research topics when you work for say the Air Force versus your time at Yukon is there? Are you told what you're researching versus what you mentioned your ideas and what you were interested in? Was that balance look like? Yeah? Interesting? So in the Air Force, um, we did have some freedom for the how, but the what what we were focused on did come from above somewhere. So there was like a str ggic plan where the Air Force was going. And I would never like doubt this planning. It was done by really smart people that have been doing satellite sorts of work for quite a while. And what when the problems got to us. We were never told how to achieve the desired outcomes. Make this material, this film, survive in space for at least three years. Okay, that's a problem I can wrap my head around. And so we would set about designing experiments to do that. So the freedom came in in the how and the methodology. And then the exciting part was you never knew what would work. You sort of went followed your nose, went with hunches. And then I was able to be creative, either with the molecules that we designed or the apparatus we designed, going back to my PhD days of making things that never existed before. Uh So I found a lot of joy in that, even though the goals were established by the Air Force. Now in academia it was totally open ended, which for some people can be intimidating. For me, uh it was fine, you know. I I had by the time I got into academia, I had some really clear ideas about um what was needed in the world of material science. And I had just gotten into what's called shape memory, which is kind of like flubber if if you ever so materials that change shape upon command. I was very excited one of the earl I was one of the earliest inventors of that type of material. So so the projects just took on a life of their own. And then what I found is that one actually not actual life. Yeah yeah, well some people I guess are working on that but in AI and whatnot. But anyways, uh um. And then as I published and patented UM, I did find that companies started coming to me as hey could shape memory or could this other technology? To just published their patent it about work in our...

...products. So Boston Scientific, Nike, Proctor, and Gamble Avon came to me to to just and I would do these projects with them multiple years to see how the effects I was studying in the laboratory might influence their product design. That was really uh that was quite wonderful at Unicon and then at UM Syracuse after that. And that's perfect because I wanted to ask about Syracuse because two stops back on your journey, you were up the road at Syracuse and you were able to start and lead an entire research institute. So I wanted to ask you what drove you to start that and what you learned from that experience. Maybe that even helps you know you step towards becoming a dean. Sure, that's a great question because it was a big moment in my arc of a career. At the just before Syracuse, I was a case Western Reserve University in Cleveland. That's why I'm a Cleveland sports fan that if you ever wondered. And there I started to do some administrative work, mainly because you know, if if I didn't raise my hand, nobody else would. Factuty um who I love do tend to focus on their research and their classes, and when it comes time to do administrative work, uh, they usually disappear. So I was willing to do some administrative work just to experiment with it. And I did gret the graduate program how to recruit graduate students help them be successful. And I also got involved in assessment for accreditation, which is in the world of engineering. Um So, I had some chops, you know, how to organize information, how to motivate people. I started to find I'm pretty good at leading and influencing. I never read a leadership in my life, but I was doing it. Um So I gave a talk at Syracuse University invited by Dat ching Wren, who is still there, just because I knew him from Yukon. He was a PhD student at Yukon when I was there, sayd hey, Pat, come give a talk. I go there to give a talk, and either they had a strategy or spontaneously they saw that I could do what they needed. And multiple people said, hey, there's a white paper floating around campus about a center for bio materials that would be interdisciplinarian. Would UH bring together physics, biology, chemistry, engineering the Upstate Medical University for applications of materials for healthcare. But we need somebody to lead it and sort of bring it all together and take it from a piece literally one piece of paper to an institute or not to a center. So they said you should, And I'm sorry, there's an important part here. There was a family, uh, Milton and Stevenson from Syracuse. UH. The Stevenson family had built a company called Antiplate, which does medal finishing. UH and they were very grateful to their education. Both Milton in and who are neither are are living with us any longer. But at the time I met them and that they had established a professor ship that UH and was a nurse and Milt was a chemical engineer. When they were students. They wanted to bring this two together, and materials for healthcare was perfect. So somebody there at Syracuse saw an opportunity to combine their passion as donors, this white paper as a vision, and then me as a nascent leader who had never really led anything, to come in the Provost and the vice president of Research got on the engine that drove this and recruited me there. And I had enough knowledge, enough insight to know when you can negotiate. So before I accepted the position, I negotiated for space. Somehow I had that wisdom and that proved to be very important. So I got two floors of a building called down Hall, as you know I've My thought was, if we're going to build something, we need to co locate that this and have a center of influence for for this work. So that negotiated, I am some faculty lines that I knew would be important. I signed the bottom line, and um so I got there, and we got recruited faculty from all these different departments or ari on campus and made new hires. Did the renovation project, helped faculty raise money, and it became the Syracuse Biomaterials Institute in partnership with Upstate Medical University and Syracuse University. It was a huge success. It was so enjoyable, so successful, and it was a different model for doing research, interdisciplinary research where the designs were all centered around the students, not around the faculty. Now faculty were heavily involved and they benefited. But the design of our of the floors in that building I mentioned, we're all about what does a graduate student need to be able to do interdisciplinary research? Whereas the typical model is you work for professor and that professor has this expertise in an interdisciplinary field, no single professor has all the knowledge you need to succeed with your graduate research. So I had to build this structure and...

...the relationships among the faculty so that every every PhD student would go through, there'd be like a three or four faculty in the room at the defense, and each brought their expertise. So the students graduated as an amalgam of all this knowledge of three or four faculty, driven by the design. And that's why today, to this day, I realized the impact of architecture, spatial arrangements on human behavior, including collaboration. UH, something I'm very interested in forever Atherton Hall and in fact, so that was a huge success and it has morphed into something called the bio Inspired Institute, which is pervasive at Syracuse now sort of built upon that early success with an interdisciplinary institute. So, for those of you listening, Pat was just blowing while he was talking about this institute, the center at Syracuse. But you left that in order to become the dean down the road at buck Now, So what drew you to that opportunity and to to leave this center that you've founded. Well, there's a professional and a personal element, As is often the case with big decisions, I was drawn back to Pennsylvania. I had um UM, I had gone through a divorce, and I had fallen in love uh and um. After after a couple of years of just living you know, solo uh tera and I UH my wife, we um found each other. We happened to have been college boyfriend and girlfriend. She was at Cornell. I was a Pence way back when we found each other again through Facebook and uh and she lived in Pennsylvania, and so did my parents, or my father who's still living, and my my sister. So I was kind of drawn just to be back somewhere closer the Syracuse. The travel to come back and forth was extensive from Sycus. I said, this general personal drive to get back to Pennsylvania. So that's personal side. On the professional side, I was really enjoying administration, can you believe it? Uh? I loved sort of And what I loved about an administration was the people part, so helping faculty and students be successful by things I had helped to design and structures I had helped to create. So as you recall a very interested in design molecules, apparatus, uh, interior design, architecture, or organizational charts. You know who would be interested in that. But I find the power of all through people was really interesting and so at the next level for me, and this opportunity came up, a search firm contacted me about buck Now University was hiring a new dean, and I said, oh, I never thought about being a dean, but buck Now was interesting because it was very student focused. Particularly it's an undergraduate focused institution, which I had come to love. I didn't mention it before, but at Syracuse, one of my strong suits and one of my approaches was a lot of undergraduates in my lap, So I really felt like I knew what made undergraduates tick, you know, how to get them excited about research and so forth. So the Bucknell opportunity really was a natural progression of my administration geographically brought me back to Penn State and uh had buck now has a wonderful reputation, and I said, Okay, this will really help me do even more organizationally to help advance of college. And it was I'd done a little bit of strategic planning at Syracuse. This was going to be big strategic planning. Oh and the final thing that was very attractive to me was the Bucknell small enough that the deans are right on the president's council. What I anticipated, what what came to be true is the ability to see how a university works, which is very interesting to me. And being on that president's cabinet, I got to hear about the big financial decisions. I got to see a university go through the early days of COVID. I got to understand what a general council of lawyer is at a university and UM and then I got to see the power of multi college collaboration. We had a college Management, College of Arts and Sciences and College of Engineering, which was mine. It was a challenging job because I had never been a dean before. Seventy five faculties, seven fifty students, three buildings, one of which I helped UH to launch. The construction of it was also different, So the learning curve was as steep as it was when I was in undergrad. I don't regret a single day. It was fantastic. I was there for five years and it was a time of tremendous personal growth, tremendous growth as an academic, and I kept doing research the whole time. So I had a lab, I had undergraduate researchers in my lab. We published quite a few cool things about nano fibers UH and UM, so I was able to keep my foot in the laboratory there as well. So you're obviously an engineer your scientists by trade, but becoming an administrator requires a lot of different skill sets and there's some things that translate that you said with design. So how did you go about learning, even if informally through books or other...

...mediums, to pick up any skills that you needed that you didn't already have to take on that kind of leadership role. That would be helpful for students to be able to translate into their experiences. Well, first, I did hire a coach. I had heard that there's such a thing as a coach, a life coach, as in my case, it was called an executive coach. He uh, he did not give me advice. He helped me find the answers that he knew were within me. And uh, so I would describe the challenges and the goals that I had, and then he would help me navigate this whole other literature library. Uh and experiences that was maybe common for somebody that that maybe goes through management education but totally or psychology but totally different than me. So I was like, oh my gosh, every book I read that would lead to three more books and then uh, none of them were just like intellectual sort of perspectives they were. I always chose books that were about the real world of relationships, influence, what makes people tick, motivation, personality types. So I started I went through a season of just um extensive reading. I learned how I read, Uh which sidebar I like to listen to audit audible books while I read physical books at the same time. Then I can go through about fifty books a year or something like that. Just if I do only audible or only the hard copy paperback or whatever, probably one book every couple of months. I don't know what. It's way my brain works. I get distracted. So anyways, I just became so interested in what makes human nature, management theories and so forth, and I was putting it to work just in time. I learned about all sorts of good, bad, and ugly about human behavior, and the next day that thing would happen. And so I felt like that's why the learning curve was so steep and in exciting I was. I was like, oh my god, I gotta read that next chapters that might happen tomorrow. So now my library, if you come into my office, like half of it to the left, or all the science and engineering books about half of you know, some other three books are all the things that you know. Patrick Lynn showny uh five Dysfunctions of the Team books like that, Burnee Brown her So I love her stuff, and that's what I read these days. I still like for fiction, I love like mysteries, Big John d McDonald fan. And then on the people nonfiction. I love biographies and I love um all of these sorts of books I was just describing that are how people, what makes people tick, whether they're faculty, staff, students, we're all humans. And it's really funny if you ever get a chance to visit the Dean in his office. We're recording here in the d f C, but if you're ever in his office, it's really funny to see his bookshelf because it's a book that's like some really technical polymer and right next to it is a Burnee Brown book or some you know, leadership habits book, which is just really funny to see. And I do want to say this is not sponsored by Audible, but I'm sure there's several other podcasts that you could listen to where you could get a discount code for your free book. So this one is not sponsored by Audible. So nobody asked Pat to say that. That was just his authentic representation of how he consumes his his So this is coming out. We're recording in summer, this will be debuting in the fall. So when you're hearing this, Pat, you have been here for a year. But going back two years. In fall, our previous Dean, Peggy Johnson, announced she was retiring and obviously you're one of our alumni, so you saw the announcement, what was your initial thoughts on if that was an opportunity for you and what led you to pursue coming back to Penn State to lead the honors college to and then also what is actually like the search and hiring process like to become a dean? I know we have some other alumni that are dean. Is definitely something that I could see some of our students being interested in down the line or an the alumni listening, So walk us through what you can of that experience. Sure, So as context, Tara and I were living in Louisbourg working at buck Now, we did find ourselves coming to State College quite often just to like go downtown or to go to a football game or you name it. I just we just found ourselves making excuses to come out here. So and being it was fairly close, you know, we could we could just do it and sometimes we would just stay over in a hotel. So that's context. I was like, oh, it's a lot of nice features of working buck Now right next to Penn State. And I did get more and more involved with the engineering, science and mechanics department. Judy Todd, who was the department head, was very welcoming to me whenever I was on campus. Um. So then I did see the Peggy Johnson, who I have been monitored, you know, A saw as she was doing such a great job with the college as an alum. I was just paying attention. So I got the magazine or a red somewhere that she was going to retire. So it did plant a seed in my mind, like, well, I'm just gonna keep monitor because always...

...dream would be especially once I became a professor. It's come back to Penn State. No opportunity had ever come across my desk about that kind of thing. So I hit pause, and then a search firm contacted me about the opportunity. They're happy to you know, I just I did not hesitate. I just applied UM. And now a search like this at a dean level, and uh, that involves a search firm, there's UM to just ask about process a little bit. There's it's really nice because the search firm is somewhere in between the university hiring you and the candidates, so they're really friendly with you. They give you all answer all of your questions. So that you can put your best foot forward. So I had a lot of questions for the search firm, and uh it was able to construct what I thought was, you know, my best package, my CV cover letter that expressed my vision, things that I would be interested in bringing to Shreier Honors College where I to be. It's next, It's next, Dean. This was joint COVID. So everything, I think, everything about the process was on Zoom, which is funny because as I think back, the relationships I have now started on Zoom and it's hard for me to exactly remember if it didn't seem like it was negatively impact by the nature of the Zoom framework. So we had a couple passes through. Like I guess, I was in a shortlist candidate. So I went to WANT when a meeting where I just had like thirty minutes you tell us your vision for honors education. Uh. So I did my best and made it to the next round. I became a finalist and then there's there's a couple of details there, but in the end I still remember very clearly I got to meet President Barron, our former president, as part of the interview process. That alone was like for me, Wow, I've made it, you know too, And so I did my bad as little nervous, but he was very warm and helped the conversation to be real by his very nature. It was in his I think it was this home office, and he asked me um about all of my transitions. His interview style is why did you make that move or that move? He he told me later when I got to teach with him a little bit in Presidential Leadership Academy, that that's his met he says, that's very revealing about a person's values, that sort of the thought processes and so forth. And then I got the job. I remember Nick Jones that I got to work with Provost Nick Jones on former provost on sort of the final negotiation and things like that, which went very smoothly. And then before you know it, a couple of months later, I'm here and you know, lisam a lot showing me my new office where my parking spot is, and and then the students came and it was like a whirlwind and it was just fantastic. And I just need to remember because your first day was moving week, so there was no no pause there and pause. It was August fifteenth, officially was my first day, and the the uptick in you know, the lines downtown and cars and students smiling and laughing. It was all happening at the same time. I wouldn't do it any other way. It was a fantastic way to start. Now you've mentioned you know, obviously the provost is your boss, right and in a company obviously in universities use the same title for general counsel, right, But we have a lot of unique terms like provost, like dean, and I think you know we're both first gen students, and for any others listening, we have some weird terms and higher ed if we're being honest, registrar bursts are what what are these things? So? How would you define the role of dean? How do you approach it, especially for such a unique college like the Shriyer Honors College, where it is interdisciplinary, it is focused on undergraduates. We don't have our own faculty. We partner with all the other colleges across the university, both at University Park and across the Commonwealth. How would you define the uniqueness of this compared to your previous role as a more traditional dean at Bucknell. I'd like to think of dean's, whether at traditional like Buckneller, Penn State or wherever, as a general manager. Uh. In that the they're responsible for everything in that unit. So in my case now as Shriar's dean um responsible primarily for the scholar success. So it's scholar first, you know. And that means getting to the Honors College, navigating Penn State, navigating stridor Honors College, and succeeding with the research and off into the world uh and everything that that entails. We happen to do that by a living learning community with fantastic staff that specialized in different elements of scholar success. And so there's space, there's people, there's academic sort of navigation, and all of it matters and so um meantime. H. So that's it might sound, that sounds operational. Meantime. I'm given the mandate of ever improved of the thing you're leading, and so...

...you have to think, I like the Wayne Gretzky kind of thing, where's the puck going? Uh? And then be the college needs to be there. So I like to think of current eighth graders in K twelve, what how should we prepare so that when they come to our college should they do, so we're ready for them because we need to start now for those eighth graders because it takes time to change, especially in a in in higher edge, just like in government things things move with the basic time scale of an academic year. So if you want to do something next year, you're gonna start last year. So in that sense, there's the general manager kind of feel, but there's also the owner, you know, owners of small businesses. If they're not doing it, it's not getting done kind of mindset. And so there's a certain kind of passion that's like um, first one to turn on the lights figuratively it's last with the turn off the lights, like and thinking about are we starting now, what needs to exist for the success us of current today's current eighth graders, and that that is super exciting to me. It complicates the job a little bit. You can't just do well right now. You have to be thinking about the future and what do we change now. So that's why strategic planning comes about. Assessment, measure measure what matters. Is one of the books on myself I view Shryer Honors College, is that you mentioned compare with buck now as a horizontal college as opposed to a vertical like a dean of engineering or a dean of communications whatever. They're responsible in a vertical way for majors that happen to exist within that college. We have all majors, and that's why I view us as sort of fabric that stitches together horizontally across all of the disciplines. Super exciting as as a dean. And so what that means is partnerships are everything, really, and a good partnership starts with a good relationship. And so thank god, the d means here at Penn State are so collaborative, so friendly, so welcoming. They always take meetings with me, they always reach out, very friendly, uh, and so we have conversations about, hey, where's the future going for you, where's the freature going for me? How can we partner? And so I think as time will tell, but I imagine lots of different synergies win win, win winds. Scholars win first, and then hey, what that thing you're trying to accomplish in arts and architecture? I think Schryer students maybe the best ones to pilot that those kinds of uh partnerships and collaborations so in a sense, because it's horizontal, it's very very provost like to use one of those terms in scope. It covers all the disciplines, which works for me because gathered by now, I'm interested in music as much as I am in polymer's as much as I am as human behavior. So um, I when I'm a student and they're telling what you up what are you up to in the world they tell me, I'm like, it's all interesting to me, and I, uh, I'm curious by nature, so uh, definitely not your typical engineer. Uh. And I think this job requires people that not just appreciate, but are passionate about all the disciplines that make up a university. So I do want to ask you about work life balance in the music and everything. But I do have one question that popped up while we've been talking. You've mentioned negotiating a couple of times, and particularly about kind of your more recent roles that are further into your career. But what advice would you give to scholars that are negotiating maybe that first your second job out of college, to get the most you keep reading as we're recording in July, around all these headlines of tight labor markets and all these things. So certainly scholars can be in a position of strength maybe that they have would not have been able to be in past markets. What advice would you give them as their approaching maybe that first role or or negotiating a research package for grad school? What have you found that's worked for you that could translate. Yeah, that's a great question, very practical question. Um. There's a couple elements to it, one internal, one external. On the internal side, it's great to one of the books I love, Crucial Conversations, has this uh dogma which is start with heart and so and that's an internal journey which might sound a little touchy feeling, but you really have to understand your and get real with your own values. Um. And they might not be the typical values that you would know about or or or that you would hear about, I should say and so, UM, I'd be happy to talk with any listeners about you know, how to explore that. In the class I teach, we go into that. But for example, one of my values is optimism when you can see a path forward for you than others. And that's about me, that's that's um, I'm wired that way and inter personal relationships. I'm looking for optimism and others as well, and if I don't see that, there might be a little tension. But then in a company, if you're if you're deciding, you know, if you're comparing employers and communities and even fields, if you're comparing, like um,...

...pharmaceutical industry versus another industry. As you get into that, take one of those values in my case one of mine is optimism, and ask questions of others during that interview process to see is their hope that exists among this community that you will achieve and make a difference in whatever your world is. And for me, if there's not, if it's like, yeah, we're doing this, you know, to make a book or whatever, and uh, and there's not sort of this community hope, then I would probably choose another company. And that so you view the opportunity through a lens of multiple values that you take some time to figure out what to identify. So that's sort of the internal journey, which is challenging but worth doing by journaling, reading books, talking with others. The other one that would be maybe a little more practical is work your network and so you may not might not have a network yet. So in Shire Honors College, Uh, you show it would be a really great help, as would Lisa, Curt and Ski and others to say, Hey, I'm thinking about going into the industry. Who among our alumni have uh you know, maybe five steps ahead or twenty five steps ahead of me? Can I chat with them? Can I talk with him or at least connect with him on LinkedIn? And then I have found well personally I've had I've benefited from these conversations. What's it like there? Do you know anybody there? Do they like it? Is there a growth opportunity there? Uh? I noticed a big salary offer difference between this company and that company. Well, and alum might say, well, it's cost a lot to live there, so of course it should be you should have a higher salary. So this sort of a practical advice that come from the reason I mentioned alumni is they automatically, in my experience, care about you as a person, asking and a fifteen minute conversation can save you five years literally. Uh So I would seek that out. And if you don't have that network yet, that's a beauty of our college. Um, if you happen to be a member of our community. Uh, but even if you're an a different university or a different situation, that the general principle is to make connections and ask questions of those that are just a few steps ahead of you and have recently encountered that. And then and then you have to make a decision based on your decisions are difficult, but if you have that those values to look at the thing through, and some connections that can give you their lived experience, you can make an informed decision. Now, you were talking about your values, which I appreciate and I thought it was really interesting. So if you've listened to this podcast before, you know that I have a questionnaire that I send to all of my guests that helps me with research and preppingness so that each one is relevant to the conversation. For example, if somebody didn't study abroad, I don't want to ask to study abroad questions. So that's what the purpose of that questionnaire is. And Pat, you're the first person who's ever listed out all of your core values, your personal purpose, your personal vision statement, which I thought was really really cool. How did you go about developing these and and also what inspired you to actually like write them out and how would you suggest that scholars could go about doing that for their own personal vision and values. My motivation was as as I started to try to understand other people in my different roles, like what makes them tick? Why why is there this conflict between these two other people? UM, I started to realize, well, how well do I know myself? And I had read and my coach had mentioned that when it comes to making big decisions, you've got to have some clarity on where you're going and what you value. So for uh, mission and vision, I sort of took a page out of help organizations do that, and I just did it, reflected it on my applied some sort of methodology to myself. Uh. And these things are not static in time, by the way, so I have to revisit. But I like to write, and as I mentioned earlier, to me, writing is a form of thinking, and so I could think I know what my purpose in the world is. But once I had to write down a set intends that really drove a whole lot of inquiry that took months and months UM and and clarity on I won't go into the details here, but clarity on it has been so helpful to make it made this Rider coming to Shriyer Honors College. Decisions so easy because I had clarity on my values and vision for like, when I look back that the vision one is like, imagine you're at a podium and you have family and former colleagues that are celebrating your retirement. What do you want to be able to say and feel at that moment? And that can drive you know, a vision statement. And one an element of my vision statement is a legacy of really positive relationships and creative artifacts. So a lot of things about people, but I really do like to make new things. And the artifacts could be organizations, they could be polymers or whatever. And you know, if I think, you know, at that podium, I'll be happy if I can look back and say, well I have I've had some really good relationships that then...

...lead to other people having been influenced by sort of my role in their life. And look at all those cool followers. So um. And on the value side, um, and this is something I'm really passionate about for our college and its scholars and and stuff alike. Is just um, take a moment to try and get clear clear on your internal values, your core values, so that you can make decisions and live in integrity. And by integrity, I don't mean something judgmental. I mean that decisions you're making, actions you're taking actually resonate in a positive way with things that that you really hold in high esteem. And then I think that generally brings joy in life. I think that's really helpful for students who are listening so highly recommending that time to write those out. I've started doing that myself and it's definitely therapeutic. So obviously, even you know, you've mentioned things that you like to do, and even a dean needs to unplug and get away from Atherton and Simmons. So what does your time away from the college look like? How do you how do you relax and find some balance? Tara and I do love this place, so just the setting is amazing. We love our neighborhood. I um, when I do have free time and you have to make free time and uh sidebar, it's not so much free time, it's it's you know, people talk about time management. I think about it as energy management. So doing things that can create energy are well worth doing even if they take an hour. So it's just a philosophy. When I'm creating energy, I like to do that by cycling. Tara and I have a tandem bicycle that's bright yellow. You might see it around town. Uh, And we also have an individual bike. So we like to explore out west of State College. There's lots of great roads out there. Tadpole Road is really cool. I'd like to run. I did the Nitney Valley Half Marathon in December. It was very cold, but it was a hilly, but it was a great race. I like to have a race, always on the callin her to give me a reason motivation to train. And I still to this day, which started way back even before Depends in high school, played the guitar the music studio at home. Not not a fancy thing, but a way to uh, sort of like writing the thesis if if I'm going to noodle around on the guitar, I like to create songs, not just write them, but then record them. It's just like writing is expository. If I'm going to record a song, kind of have to have it all together, and you know, the lyrics have to make sense and the music has to to make sense. So and then I don't do anything with the songs. I'm satisfied. This is just me but I'm satisfied when the song is recorded, because then that that exists, and just like creating a new rheological microscope, creating a new polymer, creating a song, somehow it gives me the same sort of joy and fulfillment. And certainly saying it feels like if it's with your value of leading those creative artifacts, yeah, definitely. And obviously if you were listening at the very beginning and paying attention, you heard a little bit of the Dean playing some guitar while I was introducing him, and he has it sitting here with him. Last week he messaged me and said, hey, can I bring my guitar and play on the show. And I said, yeah, that's a great idea. Um, if you have an original piece, because you know copyright infringements and I don't want this episode taken down by Apple or Spotify. Um, I said, if you have something original and you do write your own music, as you said, so for the first time on this show, a musical interlude before we go into our final third of reflective questions. So, um, this is this is something I wrote. Um, just noodling around a little bit to be honest. The song is a play, uh completed yet, but I'll just give you a little preview of it. Yeah, if you couldn't hear what you say, if you couldn't see, would you draw, If you couldn't feel, who would you be? Would you be anything at all? I can't believe you cannot see either beautiful picture if you man me, if you'd only let go and let our feelings grow, our senseless passion could find a beery. It's senseless. S no sense that I really can't see how you and me could be. It's real, but senseless. So, like I...

...said, it's a work in progress. But that's the main idea that's I wrote that when Tera and I first started dating, that early parts of it a long time ago. Thank you for sharing that with us and our listeners. I hope a takeaway is that even you know, our particularly a lot of our scholars are in engineering like you were, and there's this sense of like I have to focus on all the STEM things, and I think, you know, you show that you can be very multi facintated. You can have pursuits in the liberal arts, in the arts in STEM and enjoy all of them at the same Absolutely and absolutely I think, uh sometimes it's a challenge to embrace that mindset and it's but it's so helpful to do so. Now I wanna ask some reflective questions here towards the talent of our conversation. What would you say is your biggest success to date? I would the biggest success today. I'm so proud of my children. We have a blended family, so my two sons and three stepdaughters. I guess when I remember at that podium thing, I will be um first and foremost reflecting on how my kids have done and not much, not what have they accomplished, but how have they done in the realm of relationships, bringing joy, experiencing joy themselves and bringing joy to others. And sometimes that is through some accomplishments, but also through family, their families, etcetera. Uh So that would be uh. I'm very proud of all all five of them. What am I on the professional side one of my most proud of. It's like choosing your favorite kid. That's impossible. I would say probably Syracuse Bio Materials Institute. I mean, I'm not I ain't done yet, So it's but at this moment, the creation of that institute and all that it has achieved and what it's become is is a great source of pride. I don't know if i'd say it's the thing I'm most proud of, because there's so many different things that's one of them. Uh. Finally, I would say, um, if I have had a lot of PhD students, whether they were at Yukon case Western Syracuse, they have gone on and done amazing things. I think there's twenty eight students that did their PhD with me, managers of companies, professors in their own right that now have grad students and undergraduates in their lab. It's like, oh my god, it's such a beautiful thing to be in higher education because there's this ripple effect through the people and so that that will be endless. It's like an endowment, an endowment of people that will be uh endless because they will the next generation, academic, grandchildren and so on will have a ripple effect. And that gives me great hope for the future. So on the flip side, what would you say is the biggest transformational learning moment or mistake that you've made and what you what you took from that. Yeah, I had a lot of those over the years. Um. One of them was um. Usually it's in the area of assumptions. UM. That's why a reading a writing prompt I often give students and in my own journal prompt is what am I assuming? What am I afraid of? And what do I really want? If you're not clear on those three things, you'll have a lot of anxiety and probably make some mistakes. I'd I'd say one of the biggest mistakes I made as a professionally was in uh strategic planning at buck Now. I moved at the sort of the wrong pace I had. I misread the community under the influence of my own ambition to get something done. There's some details to it, but it was related to how research in scholarship makes its way into the strategic plan for the College of Engineering at buck Now, and so I misread it at buck Now. In the College of Engineering, for strategic plan to to fly, it needs to it's subjected to a vote and a super majority is needed, and I failed by one vote. So I was like, oh, man, one mane. I immediately I was. I was fundraising at the time. I was in Texas with with the development officer, and I got the news and I was so disappointed. A little bit sad. You know, I called the president. The President brought me said, oh, you know, this is life, this is out rolls. You know, what what would you do differently or what do you or what do you would do going forward? So I just got real. It is my main uh And I learned so much from this. Later I found a quote that would have been really helpful. If progress happens at the speed of trust. So you've got to keep measuring indirectly, not quantitatively, what's the level of trust among all the players and something as big as a strategic plan. And if I had had a better read on that, um, I probably would have gone slower. And then I just got real. So we had an all college meetings and I just admitted, I said, I blew it. I misread where we're at with what...

...how research relates to our strategic plan? What are we gonna do? And we just we went community on it. We crowdsource that we did. You know, we had round tables, white board and sticky notes. And then I had a team of about a dozen in the that summer that just really rolled up their sleeves and make this happen and at the right pace with all the right people with all the right engagement, and then the next time it was voted on it, it was unanimous. So um. So I learned a lot, including humility. Uh, it was it was embarrassing. It was embarrassing when it didn't pass because everybody knew I was really passionate about strategic planning, which I remain today interested in that. So yeah, but but I learned, and now I look back, I have such fond feelings about Buck now, that college, all those people involved, despite that sort of failure. This is sort of broad advice, but failures related to taking risks. So I'm proud that I took risk and sort of leaned into it. It sort of broke the branch instead of bent the branch. So um. But if you're not failing occasionally, you're probably not taking risks. And that's that's not a place I want to be. I want to take some risks. How would you suggest scholars approach mentorship, both as a mentee but also as they grow in their career to serve as a mentor. Mentorship is very quite valuable. I've had. I've had some long term mentors and some short term mentors to for sort of like ex subject matter expert kind of mentors. These are relationships. So my main advice is to just be yourself. UM, it's going to go. Trust will be built built UM. To have meaningful conversations, you need to have that trust and respect only through authenticity. So you just gotta be yourself and the mentor or the mentee will really appreciate that. I don't know, we we as humans have a sense for authentic city and so be yourself and get and be clear about what your goals are. You know, in a conversation, I'm gonna say, what are your goals? And tell me your goals? But but maybe you know it's worth saying. You know, I'm really glad I got to know you. You know, is there would it be possible for for us to go in a direction where I tap into your knowledge about X, Y or Z, either the field or what I should do. I really need some advice or can I bounce some things off of you? And just you know, be honest about the goals that you have UM, and then invest in the relationship. Relationships leak to use an engineering metaphor, you have to keep filling them and fill that you know, you invest in really say, hey, I haven't spoken with Eric and while maybe I'll just drop them a note, how you doing? You know, I actually am curious and we haven't spoken in a while as a family, okay, you know. And people are human and so they appreciate that when you express an interest in them. The worst thing you can do is a mentee is to just be you know, so about yourself that it's not a two way street. Mentors get a lot of fulfillment when they help you, but they are human. They want, you know, it's a social contract of some sort. And so I would say investing in each other for those you know, you want that mentor relationship, mentoring relationship to be fulfilling, to be more just a contractual like advice that you can get by reading a book. Otherwise you would just read the book and think long term. I would say, think long term. You've mentioned a lot of people in this conversation that helped you along the way, your family. Is there anybody else that you wanted to give a quick shout out to, particularly from your days as a scholar or from your current time as dean sure um And in every case where I've made a so I'll start with sort of the professional. There's been somebody that took a chance on me because I was never quite fully qualified h for the job, including try or you know, I was dean of engineering, but I had never you know, I'm an engineer, So like, what does he know about? So I dig a little deeper and these these hiring managers, provosts or deems themselves, they saw potential and took a chance with me, and I really appreciate that, and it sort of energized me to prove them right. And then I have to mention my mom, whose whose name I share. She was Patricia. She died young from leukemia in her fifties. But what she taught me is um uh, where my dad did influence me in many positive ways. My mom taught me about encouragement. If I had to distill it to one word, she taught me how powerful it is to encourage others. And so I've lived with that than I do today. You've shared a lot of great advice today. Is there any advice you wanted to share with students or potentially prospective students that just didn't come up in our conversation? Yeah, I just in general, if I'm speaking to a scholar listening today, I would say, take it easy on yourself. I fall victim to this and and and many of the scholars I meant do where you judge yourself, your your world's worst...

...critic, because what have you done lately? Sure you got into drier, but you know snuck in or what you know what that next thing? Even when you win an award or something really good happens, you're like, yeah, that's that's no big deal. But what am I? You just have to live in the moment and don't judge yourself. Just enjoy it. I would say, you know, instead of being critical of yourself, practice some self love. You know, like, what are the big things? You know? Journaling can really help, And then surround yourself to the extent you can with positive people people that everybody has judgment on themselves, others and circumstances, but some do a better job of holding them at bay. And I think the world would be a better place with less judgment. And I would start with less judgment of yourself. If you need help with that, comes see me. Amen to that. You mentioned it earlier, but remind us how can scholars connect with you if they want to either pick your brain from an entering perspective, or if they have challenges as a scholar that perhaps he was the dean could help point them in the right direction. I'm glad you asked that. Um PTM one oh one zero one PTM zero one at p s U dot eto. I'm very responsive to email. In fact, if I see a hundred emails and three or from students, those are the first three I open and I'll find time with you, whether often it's on zoom and in my office hours that change semester to semester, exactly when they are. And uh, if if you don't want to have a one on one meeting, come see me had done it's with the dean. Pizza with Pat, will try some new things, maybe drawing with the deda. Uh, these things are somewhat bigger and even a sidebar conversation can break the ice and then maybe we'll have a deeper conversation later. Um So multi channel I whatever it takes them on teams, email is probably the fastest way to get a response from me, though you heard it directly from him. Now, final question, If you were a leavor of Berkie Creamery ice cream, which would you be and as a scholar alum and dean and the Honors college. Most importantly, you don't have a chance to write it out, but you can share verbally. Why would you be that flavor? Okay, So this is a complicated story and it has changed so um. When I was still at buck Now and I was coming out here, I would always get page Paterno if it was there. Uh, and I liked it. I was like, I'm not like the biggest peach fan, but that ice cream was amazing to me. I didn't know about scholarship so and I but I love chocolate chip ice cream. Now scholarship is I don't know the exact formulation, but I find you know once I got here, like, hey, this flavor exists. Uh now I'm hooked and I like it. How do you describe why you like ice cream? I like the texture, the complexity. I really like. For me, I like ice cream after cycling or running because there's nothing like hanging out outside Burkey and with Tera and just now I eight ice cream way too fast, probably three times faster than Terra. So then there's all this also this moment of waiting. She tries like every flavor there, but I'm now just a scholarship, and I am influenced by the fact that that's obviously the origin story is with our college. But it's a really good ice cream. Absolutely, it's a great, great remembrance for our founding benefactors, William and Jones Tryer So I believe chocolate chip ice cream was his favorite if you aren't familiar with the story, so that's why scholars Chip is a chocolate chip style ice cream. Dean Patrick T. Mather, thank you for coming on as an alarm and as dean of the Honors College here on following the gone. Really appreciate all of your insights you heard how to connect with him if you are a scholar, an alarm or a prospective scholar, and I will let you play your way out for the very special It's been a pleasure chatting with you, Sean. As always, thank you scholars for listening and learning with us today. We hope you will take something with you that will contribute to how you shape the world. This show probably supports the Shriier Honors College Emergency Fund, benefiting scholars experiencing unexpected financial hardship. You can make a difference at Raise dot p s U dot et u forward slash shreier. Please be sure to hit the relevance, subscribe, like, or follow button on whichever platform you are engaging with us on today. You can follow the college on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn to say up to date on news events and deadlines. If you have questions about the show, or a scholar alum who would like to join us as a guest here on Following the Gone, please connect with me at Scholar Alumni at p s U dot et u. Until next time, please stay well and we are.

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