More than meets the eye

Vicky Triponey has more to offer than old stories about Penn State’s Joe Paterno. (Photo Courtesy of Deric Raymond)

Though an introvert at heart, the College’s current interim vice president of Student Affairs, Vicky Triponey, was forced into the spotlight recently as the result of a scandal college students in this area know all too well.

After gaining a tarnished reputation for following her moral compass while serving as the Vice President of Student Affairs at Pennsylvania State University, Triponey was able to find a new home here last year.

“I have rediscovered my identity since coming to the College,” Triponey said.

After working at Penn State from 2003 to 2007, Triponey took time off from her career in student affairs. In 2011, the College’s own president R. Barbara Gitenstein contacted Triponey through a mutual colleague and offered her a chance to visit the campus and join the College’s student affairs department. Triponey accepted the interim position and said she is happy to be at the College after her last job at Penn State.

Triponey’s time at Penn State included controversies and internal debates regarding something that she personally holds dear to her heart — football. At the time, during disciplinary disagreements, head coach, the late Joe Paterno, may not have known of Triponey’s love for the sport. But then again, there are several things that outsiders do not know about Triponey.

She has been a football fan since the days of family gatherings growing up, where the women would be cooking in the kitchen and the men were watching the game in the living room. Triponey was with the latter.

“I am a huge football fan,” Triponey said. “College basketball, too.”

As the first in her family to go to college, Triponey followed the Panthers while attending the University of Pittsburgh-Johnstown. Triponey remained a fan of the sport as she focused on her education, something she also holds close to her heart.

“I studied psychology, but I actually wanted to be a pediatrician at first,” Triponey said. “(My pediatrician) was really the only female role model I had at the time.”

Unaware of its value while she was attaining it, Triponey came to realize her psychology degree — along with her experience as a Girl Scout, resident assistant and member on the programming board during her undergraduate years — prepared her for a long career in student affairs.

Triponey’s career, which until recent realizations was her life and her identity, began during her master’s program at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. After gaining an M.A. in student personal services, Triponey moved forward to a doctorate program at the University of Virginia, where she was able to achieve her Ph.D. in higher education administration.
After working at a number of universities around the country, including the University of Georgia, Wichita State University, the University of Connecticut and Penn State University, Triponey has found her place at the College and is working towards a different lifestyle.

“My identity used to be my work,” Triponey said. “You ask, ‘Who I am as a person?’ My career has been my life. My professional reputation was damaged after Penn State. The students and faculty at the College have given me a chance and now I want to figure out who I am outside of work.”

With a new outlook on life, Triponey is working towards finding a balance in her life with the help of her husband Mike, a new house in South Carolina and a four-legged husky-mix sidekick named Shadow.

“I don’t know what the next phase is,” Triponey said. “Part of me wants to make a positive difference in the world.  But I want to find balance and enjoy the downtime.”

Triponey’s time as interim vice president of Student Affairs may end in May 2013 after the search for her replacement is complete, but her career of helping others succeed will only continue — probably after a short break, which may or may not include a Nicholas Sparks novel, some Jim Brickman music and the beach.