Eugene J. Bella, Ballot Position No. 3
Read Bella’s official bio and position statement here (PDF download).
1. What should Penn State be looking for in its next president?
I could list skills that organizations look for in a person to lead them but these would be those which most would normally list – vision and strategic thinking, communications, interaction, conflict resolution, decision making, positive-thinking, etc. However, what is most important in this critical decision is the process used to select this leader. The process should not only include the Board of Trustees and an experienced search firm but also include selected alumni, faculty, and student leaders. The vehicle they should use is the Targeted Selection method which evaluates candidates based on their past performance to hire the right person. Similar questions are asked of each candidate and are based on the top priorities of PSU and the job objectives. This must be done meticulously. Along with evaluating the candidates based on responses to the leadership questions, the candidates must understand where PSU is at this time. “What would be your detailed plan to restore our reputation as a great University” is the most important question. The selection committee can use this response to determine not only the path that the candidate sees for our University but also how the candidate uses past performance and skills to formulate and implement this plan. This person must have the mental toughness for this job and also respect and have the respect of those with whom the leader interfaces. Each candidate’s network of contacts is important since this may be vital to the effectiveness of the future President’s plans.
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.
1. Review and understand causes of mistakes of the past two years and correct the root causes. This needs to be done before they can “move forward” responsibly. The results will bring various reforms.
2. Reduce the voting size of the Board to approximately 21 members.
3. Members should have a sincere interest in PSU and not just be appointees who are not going to be proactive. Also, because of the prime objective of restoring our reputation, the Trustees must devote more time to the position than in the past. Therefore, at this time, it would be difficult for a Trustee to have a demanding job and time-consuming personal situations and still be effective.
4. The Board has six regular meetings a year. Due to the present situation, there needs to be more meetings, as well as subcommittees that have charters other than the normal governing (budget, etc).
5. Better communicate Board proceedings to keep alumni informed, improve transparency of Board actions, and ensure decisions reflect alumni feedback.
6. Develop processes to better monitor performance of PSU officers. A Board responsibility is to be advisor to the President. The Board must ensure that the President communicates to the public the great things about our University (e.g., research, alumni, THON, graduation rates of athletes, high academic rankings, and many more) instead of accepting what people think they know from what the media has perpetrated. This in itself has caused a great deal of consternation and outrage from alumni.
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?
The Board is responsible for the governing of the University including determination of the goals of PSU, approval of budgets, evaluation of the President, and numerous other responsibilities. As a Trustee, my decisions will be based on the best interest of the PSU students, faculty, administration, alumni, and community. Whether you are an alumni trustee, a business/industry trustee, or elected or appointed from another group, the overall best interest of PSU should be foremost. However, as an alumni trustee, I have an obligation to understand how our alumni would want me to act when critical decisions have to be made. I will approach my term by taking all of the above into consideration but I will personally commit to increase communications and have alumni involved in Board decisions. In this way, our alumni would feel ownership with the decisions that greatly affect PSU. In addition to duties of governing, I will always have in my mind what actions the Board, in conjunction with the President, can take to restore our reputation as a great University. My work and personal experience give me the skills in leadership, communications, interactions, teamwork, company assessments, personal conflict, listening, and analysis of situations which I will use in solving a variety of issues. Therefore, I consider myself a credible candidate that will improve the performance of the Board. For more information on my candidacy, please visit my website at https://sites.google.com/site/bellapsu or my Facebook page under Eugene J Bella.