Andrew Tellep, Ballot Position No. 81
Read Tellep’s official bio and position statement here (PDF download).
Answers to Questions
1. In view of sharply declining state appropriations, what steps should Penn State be taking to secure its financial future?
Declining state appropriations, rising tuition, and PSU’s land-grant mission in the 21st century are related. In simple terms, we must spend taxpayer money and money from tuition in a way that will prepare our graduates for a job / profession. By doing that, we would fulfill our land-grant mission to educate the citizens of the Commonwealth and would show the state citizenry, our students, and legislators that the dollars they give us are worthy of their investment. The Board must set University goals / priorities that are realistic, “penny wise”, and student / taxpayer oriented. What can be done to convince our legislators that we are a good investment? Formerly, I was part of Penn State Schuylkill’s Legislative Advocacy Network. We invited state representatives and our state senator to a discussion of faculty work being done with students, on projects that affected communities near our campus. Afterwards, our state senator, the chair of the Senate Education Committee, said that our visitors were unaware and we must “get the word out”. We should invite legislators to the “branch” campuses, not University Park, more often. They would see and be seen observing good work by Penn State, in their home districts, where they get votes. Given the opportunity to take credit for favorable votes in the legislature (i.e. at ribbon cuttings, program openings, cultural events), in their home districts, they may be more likely to “want” to help. Stopping the decline in appropriations would be helpful. An increase would be monumental.
2. The rising cost of tuition nationally is making college less affordable for many students. Outline the steps you believe Penn State should be taking to address the issue.
We should try to stabilize the cost of tuition. I assume that each year there is a thorough business analysis done on how we spend tuition money, specifically, and what our students get for it. If that’s not being done, we should start doing it. Then, with an approach that is pragmatic and student oriented, we should: a) Try to grow and enhance what we do well and efficiently for our students, while NOT trying to be their parents, entertainers, or social workers. b) Realize that some items like technology, energy efficiency, a global outlook, and teaching new skills will take investments. c) Not use tuition monies or state appropriations for anything considered tangential or unnecessary, for our students, in the completion of their degree programs. Other resources should be sought for such expenses. d) Consider that we are fortunate to have such a generous group of donors but we should double our efforts to have them donate toward areas that, in many cases, are funded through tuition. A specific list should be presented to donors concerning such areas. The “For the Future Campaign” was a step in the right direction but the things have changed since the beginning of that effort.
3. What form should Penn State’s land-grant mission take in the 21st century?
The Morrill Land Grant Act said, “the leading object shall be, without excluding other scientific and classical studies and including military tactics, to teach such branches of learning as are related to agriculture and the mechanic arts . . . in order to promote the liberal and practical education of the industrial classes in the several pursuits and professions of life.” I believe it wise to utilize our “branch” campuses. It is advantageous for our students to start programs close to home. We can make the experience more worthwhile. If we offer and promote associate degrees at the “branch” campuses tailored to be the first two years of a four-year degree, a student can earn an associate degree, start working, and have their employer pay for completion of a four-year degree. Many did this in the past. However, a move away from associate degrees has cost us dearly. In conclusion, we should publicize how we spend tuition dollars and state appropriations. We should use the “branch” campuses to showcase legislators and the use of state appropriations, to lower the cost of attendance, and to fulfill our land-grant mission. University Park must remain the center of the University but an examination of current plans seems necessary. University Park is a wonderful place but the “branch” campuses made Penn State great for the state citizenry and the state legislature. “Branch” campuses are a bridge to “the big time” at U.P. or a place to earn a degree and start working.