Chris C. Lindsley, Ballot Position No. 64
Read Lindsley’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?
Penn State needs to get serious about reducing costs smartly. The Core Council identified $10 million in permanent cost savings for each of the last two years; the University of Michigan cost containment efforts are expected to yield more than $30 million in FY 12. Here are the steps Penn State should take:
a. Leverage its purchasing power to negotiate supplier contracts with favorable pricing, and renegotiate current contracts.
b. Maximize technology to create business efficiencies, reduce costs, FTEs and improve information management and employee productivity.
c. Create a centralized or shared service approach to handling common needs, like IT support, purchasing, and academic and administrative support. This allows experts to handle these services across the University (and all Penn State campuses), which will save money, reduce duplication and increase efficiency.
d. Promote the Penn State 2+2 Plan more aggressively as a way for more students to get a Penn State education and keep the Commonwealth campuses’ enrollment up while saving students money through the lower tuition there.
e. Prioritize all academic programs and review lower-priority programs with an eye toward eliminating those considered the weakest.
f. Use space and facilities more efficiently. Expand the space-sharing initiatives underway, getting all programs on board, and tighten policies around new construction to make sure it is truly needed.
g. Have the Board make further strides toward transparency and open communication. This will help to restore the University’s reputation, help with fundraising, out-of-state enrollment and more.
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.
a. Promote the Penn State 2+2 Plan, as explained above.
b. We need to continue to set aside some of the additional revenue from tuition for need-based student aid. Giving everyone the opportunity to attend a Penn State campus regardless of need is an important part of Penn State’s mission, and implementing a more aggressive cost-reduction strategy (see Question 1) will help pay for this.
c. Make need-based grants in aid one of the cornerstones of the public phase of For the Future: The Campaign for Penn State Students. This is an issue the Penn State community can rally around, but to do so, the campaign needs to be completely transparent and open in terms of its goals, money raised and how the money is used.
d. Expand the offerings and efficiencies of the Penn State World Campus to make this distance education program both an affordable and attractive option to more people. Penn State’s recent partnership with Destiny Solutions, a leading innovator in this area, is a positive step in that direction.
e. Publicize the financial aid the average Penn State student receives to come up with a “real” price for a Penn State education. The amount students pay can vary greatly based on need and other factors, and the Board needs to do all it can to keep tuition prices affordable, but it’s good for potential students and their parents to know just how affordable Penn State is or can be depending on one’s situation.
3. What form should Penn State’s land-grant mission take in the 21st century?
Penn State’s land-grant mission should, first and foremost, focus on ensuring as many Pennsylvania residents as possible have access to a quality education that is within the financial means of most Pennsylvanians.
Public service, though, is another important component of this mission. Penn State Outreach, which helps mobilize Penn State’s vast educational resources to address current social, cultural and economic issues to meet the needs of the people of Pennsylvania and beyond, is a great framework for this.
Ranging from continuing education to small business development to sustainability, environmental initiatives, a technical assistance program and much more, we need to ensure this vital public service is flexible enough to adapt to meet the future needs of the people of Pennsylvania. This sort of public service should involve the entire Penn State community — students, alumni, faculty and others. Much like academic programs have mentoring programs, Outreach could put out a call for volunteers with specific knowledge in certain areas who are interested in this public service work through Penn State’s many communications channels. This would form the beginnings of a database of people that we would add to over time that would help the people of Pennsylvania in a meaningful way, and would be another reason for people to feel good about a Penn State education.