PA House Speaker Mike Turzai tours Mansfield University, experiences virtual reality

(L-R) Rep. Clint Owlett, MU President Dr. Charles Patterson, House Speaker Mike Turzai, and MU Chief of Staff Phil Swank.

MANSFIELD, Pa. – Pennsylvania Speaker of the House Mike Turzai met with President Dr. Charles Patterson and toured Mansfield University as part of his visit to Tioga County and the 68th District of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives on Monday, January 27.

Rep. Turzai is a 10-term member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, serving the 28th Legislative District, and was named Speaker of the House in 2015. Turzai visited Tioga County following an invitation from Rep. Clint Owlett, who serves the local 68th District.

“I love this area. These communities are beautiful regions and towns,” said Turzai. “It was a great opportunity for me to come up and learn from Rep. Owlett.”

Speaker Turzai and Representative Owlett met with President Patterson to discuss the importance of rural-serving higher education institutions and the expanding undergraduate enrollment Mansfield University.  Acknowledging the tremendous challenges facing public higher education, President Patterson described the efforts made at Mansfield University to address affordability and accessibility issues, including positive steps taken in the past year to realize enrollment growth and lower student costs.

“Mansfield University is a major driver of economic impact for the region. Sustaining rural communities requires a stable education industry, which requires collaboration, innovation, and a strong understanding of its fundamental mission,” said Patterson. “We are making tremendous progress in these areas.”

The Speaker then viewed Mansfield University’s state-of-the-art virtual reality center located at the Public Safety Training Institute with MU Police Chief Scott Henry, Dean of the College of Arts and Humanities Josh Battin, and Criminal Justice Instructor Mark Thompson. The VR system provides students and law enforcement practitioners the ability to train in realistic, yet safe conditions. Turzai put on the VR headset and experienced simulations that demonstrated the capabilities of the system before watching how the technology can be applied to law enforcement training.

Officer David Fizzano, a 2019 Mansfield University Act 120 Municipal Police Academy graduate, returned to campus to showcase simulated VR trainings that included real-life scenarios faced by police officers and first responders. The VR technology allows law enforcement to refine their communication and decision-making skills in a variety of scenarios. Fizzano is an officer with the Point Township Police Department in Northumberland County, Pa.

“It was really quite eye-opening and I think it’s very helpful in terms of pursuing a certification or degree” said Turzai about Mansfield’s VR system.

“It’s so exciting to have the speaker join us in the 68th district,” explained Owlett. “We were here at Mansfield University talking about how bright the future is for the university.”

To learn more about the Mansfield University and the Mansfield University Public Safety Training Institute, visit

Speaker Turzai experiences Mansfield University’s virtual reality system as Rep. Owlett looks on.
Speaker Turzai watches how virtual reality can be applied in law enforcement training.
(L-R) MU Police Chief Scott Henry, Rep. Clint Owlett, Officer David Fizzano, Speaker Mike Turzai, MU Criminal Justice Instructor Mark Thompson and Dean of the College of Arts and Humanities Josh Battin stand in Mansfield University’s Public Safety Training Institute Virtual Reality Center.