The financial and reputation values and costs of on-line and distance learning are becoming better known. Some universities use these principally to leverage their faculty's ability to produce tuition. This is a worthy goal in financially dynamic times. But other, more forward thinking institutions, are also considering the way in which these efforts could be used to enhance institutional and professorial reputation and influence within academia and in broader circles where the production of knowledge and its dissemination is valued.
(Pix (c) Larry Catá Backer 2012)
Penn State certainly falls within the former category. It ought to seriously consider moving into the other. One way to do that might be to encourage its faculty along the lines already much in evidence at Yale and similar institutions; and by encourage I do not mean merely with words and best wishes. Consider a recent article in the Chronicle of Higher Education.