Ryan M. Bagwell, Ballot Position No. 38
Hirshorn Zuckerman Design Group
Read Bagwell’s official bio and position statement here (PDF download).
1. What should Penn State be looking for in its next president?
Now more than ever, the university needs a leader who is committed to implementing the reform that alumni are demanding. Penn State’s next president must possess a deep commitment to transparency of all forms, including providing access to university records, upholding academic freedom and ending Old Main’s culture of secrecy. He or she should have plans to significantly reduce tuition, and a demonstrated ability to foster a university-wide culture of openness and collaboration. Finally, training students to solve the world’s challenges must be at the forefront of the next president’s agenda. He or she must emphasize and expand degree programs that produce workers whose occupations are in demand, like engineering, technology and even agricultural research.
2. What changes or reforms should the Board of Trustees consider to help the university progress after the events of 2011 and 2012? Please explain why—or, if you don’t think reform is needed, please explain why not.
Re-establishing trust between trustees and alumni has to be a priority. To that end, the board should immediately and fully disclose all records related to the Sandusky scandal, including records retained as evidence during Freeh’s investigation. It must immediately implement changes to its ethics rules, such as requiring trustees and administrators to file annual financial disclosure reports and establishing a meaningful conflict of interest policy. Board members must be barred from handing themselves lucrative Penn State jobs. And they must rid their bylaws of antiquated rules that prohibit rigorous debate and the expression of unpopular opinions. These common-sense reforms are long overdue, and will go a long way toward re-creating a relationship between the board and the alumni community.
3. How do you define the role of an alumni trustee, and how would that inform the way you would approach your term on the board?
A trustee’s primary role is to be a watchdog for the university. He or she must be curious, inquisitive, and unafraid to demand answers and records from people who are loathe to give them. But the alumni trustee has an additional role – to represent the interests of the electorate. If elected, I pledge to be a conduit for the demands of my constituents, vigorously pursuing the reforms that they have wanted for 16 months. I will reach out to trustees who have thus far resisted change, and seek out ways to build bridges so that both sides can achieve our goals. But most importantly, I will diligently provide oversight that was nonexistent in previous years, so that what happened to Penn State in 2011 will never happen again.