Shirer honored with Hendrick Award for service to adult learners

Hampton N. Shirer, associate dean for education in the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences (EMS), has been honored with the 2015 Shirley Hendrick Award, presented by the Penn State Commission for Adult Learners for service to adult learners.

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April 9, 2015


At the Penn State World Campus, Shirer noticed a problem. About 90 percent of EMS students didn’t have adequate access to the learning tools commonplace at brick-and-mortar universities.

Nels Shirer Hendrick AwardTo change that, he changed the rules for the prestigious cash-prize Grundy Haven paper competition so that online writing tutorial services could fulfill the in-person tutoring requirement. Similarly, he granted electronic delivery of entries to the undergraduate poster competition.

Seeking to make the study-abroad requirement more accessible to adult learners, Shirer supported embedded travel programs with shorter travel times. Already, 10 students have taken advantage of them.

“While many administrators have been tempted to focus solely on students who live and learn on campus, Shirer has enthusiastically embraced this new cohort of students from the very beginning,” said a colleague. “He has worked tirelessly to make sure all of our students have access to the same rich resources and educational experiences.”

Shirer became associate dean for education in 2012. He graduated from the University of Kansas with a Bachelor of Arts in Mathematics in 1972 and continued his studies at Penn State, earning a master’s degree and doctorate in meteorology in 1974 and 1978.

The Shirley Hendrick Award recognizes an administrator University-wide who has contributed to the success of Penn State’s efforts to serve adult learners. The award is named in memory of Shirley Hendrick (1936–2000), the first recipient, former dean for continuing education in the Smeal College of Business and inaugural chair of the Commission for Adult Learners, who advocated for continuing education.