Penn State Laureate 


Photo of David Witmer

David Witwer

Meet the 2020-21 Penn State Laureate

David Witwer

Professor of American Studies in Penn State Harrisburg’s School of Humanities




2020-21 Penn State Laureate News and Events


David Witwer’s signature program, “Searching for Jimmy Hoffa: The Disappearance of America’s Most Notorious Labor Leader and Why It Still Matters Today,” represents a culmination of many years of his personal research into this cultural phenomenon.

In a recent video, Witwer previews his presentation, which will draw on his research on corruption, organized crime, and labor racketeering. Presentations will focus on his current book project, “Searching for Jimmy Hoffa,” which traces the history of what is known about International Brotherhood of Teamsters President James R. Hoffa’s disappearance, his involvement with organized crime, and what his career reveals about working-class attitudes towards corruption. Witwer plans to generate conversations about what past confrontations with corruption can teach us today.

Information about the 2020-2021 Penn State Laureate’s scheduled presentations and talks:


William J. Doan, Ph.D.

Meet the 2019-20 Penn State Laureate

William J. Doan
Professor of Theatre in the College of Arts and Architecture
and Artist-in-Residence in the College of Nursing





Penn State Laureate - Tjhe anxiety Project Promotional Poster

The 2019-20 Penn State Laureate’s Work


Visit Dr. Doan’s Laureate website for more information about his teaching, research, and much more. Learn about The Anxiety Project, one of Dr. Doan’s principal endeavors, in this “trailer” video.

The Anxiety Project includes over four hundred drawings, four graphic medicine publications in the Annals of Internal Medicine, and a live performance, all of which explore what it’s like to live with anxiety and depression, using a combination of personal experience and research into the complex world of mental health. 




William J. Doan, the 2019-20 Penn State Laureate, visited the Altoona campus Jan. 21, 2020, as part of his tour across Pennsylvania offering performances, workshops, and discussions. IMAGE: Melissa Carney

2019-20 Penn State Laureate News and Events


Take Note: A Penn State Laureate On Art And Mental Health
WPSU audio interview with Dr. Doan by Anne Danahy, March 6, 2020

Penn State Laureate brings ‘The Anxiety Project’ to Fayette campus

Penn State Forum Series: Laureate William Doan on art and mental health

Heard on Campus: Penn State Laureate William J. Doan with “The Anxiety Project”

Dr. Doan discussed mental health and “The Anxiety Project” at Penn State Altoona, followed by presentations at Penn State Great Valley and Penn State Lehigh Valley.

The February 2020 Penn State Forum featured Dr. Doan, who presented “The Anxiety Project: An Artist’s Look at Mental Health and Wellness. 

Dr. Doan shared his “Anxiety Project” with a standing-room-only crowd at Penn State Scranton on Oct. 24, 2019.

In November 2019, Dr. Doan discussed mental health and “The Anxiety Project” at Penn State York, Penn State Harrisburg, and Penn State Beaver.

Dr. Doan was featured in Cleaver, Philadelphia’s International Literary Magazine.

On Sept. 7, 2019, Dr. Doan presented Huddle with the Faculty: “The Anxiety Project: An Artist’s Look at Mental Health and Wellness” at the Nittany Lion Inn on the University Park campus. Watch a video recording of the Penn State Laureate’s talk online.


About the Penn State Laureate


The Penn State Laureate is an annual faculty honor established in 2008 to bring greater visibility to the arts, the humanities, the honoree’s work, and the University. The Laureate brings an enhanced level of social, cultural, artistic, and human perspective and awareness to a broad array of audiences.

The annual honoree is a full-time faculty member who is assigned half-time to serve as the University Laureate for one academic year. The Laureate appears regularly at events throughout Pennsylvania. Other responsibilities include:

  • Visits to Penn State campuses throughout the Commonwealth
  • WPSU-TV and radio appearances, readings, and features
  • Community outreach
  • Facilitating opportunities for other faculty and students to engage in the above activities

Read the updated Penn State Laureate Guidelines for more information.



Previous Penn State Laureates


2018-19: John Champagne, Professor of English and Chair of the Global Languages and Cultures program at Penn State Erie, The Behrend College

2017-18: Andrew Belser, Professor of Movement, Voice, and Acting, and Director of the Arts & Design Research Incubator (ADRI) in the College of Arts and Architecture, University Park

2016-17: Rebecca Strzelec, Professor of Visual Arts, Penn State Altoona

2015-16: Carol Reardon, George Winfree Professor of American History, College of the Liberal Arts, University Park

2014-15: Susan Russell, Associate Professor of Theatre, College of Arts and Architecture, University Park

2013-14: Kenneth Womack, Former Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Professor of English and Integrative Arts, Penn State Altoona

2012-13: Christopher Staley, Distinguished Professor of Art, College of Arts and Architecture, University Park

2011-12: Linda Patterson Miller, Professor of English, Penn State Abington

2010-11: Robin Becker, Professor of English and Women’s Studies, College of the Liberal Arts, University Park

2009-10: Anthony T. Leach, Associate Professor of Music/Music Education, College of Arts and Architecture, University Park

2008-09: Kim Cook, Professor of Music in Cello, College of Arts and Architecture, University Park