Darlene A. Marley, Ballot Position No. 21

Darlene A. Marley ’77 H&HD, ’80g Edu
Special Agent, Federal Bureau of Investigation (Retired)
Leonardo, N.J.

Read Marley’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?

Reduction in state aid is an unfortunate reality that is facing Penn State, as well as virtually every state-supported institution in the United States. This University must explore every opportunity to raise revenues from other sources. I believe that there are ways to reduce the affects of any funding shortfall:

a. The administrators and faculty must be tasked to identify all federal and private grant opportunities and actively endeavor to secure these awards.

b. We need to proactively approach private sector enterprises, proposing cooperative research projects, internships, and corporate-sponsored aid.

c. We need to consider offering more online course options. This could increase enrollment and curriculum choices with minimal overhead expenses.

d. We need to look at every expense incurred by the University to find savings. There should be no expense (unless guaranteed by contract or collective bargaining agreement) that is off the table. The running of this University is a business and it must be managed like one.

e. The private sector, as well as the Federal and state governments have begun scaling back employer-financed benefits and retirement packages. While I oppose any change to benefits packages available to current faculty, administrators or staff, it may be time to consider revamping employee salaries, benefits and pensions for all new hires.

Some Pennsylvania state legislators are fighting to reduce or eliminate proposed education cuts and I believe we need to encourage all members of the legislature to fight to at least keep funding at its current level.

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.

While the tuition at Penn State for both in-state and out-of-state students is higher than many state-supported institutions in other states, it reflects certain economic realities. State funding, infrastructure costs and even geographic location impact each school’s ability to meet expenses. While I support a thorough review of all University income and expenditures, I believe it would be unrealistic to assert that tuition expenses can be reduced in any meaningful way in today’s economy.

I believe that cost-saving and revenue-generating efforts should be an ongoing project for the University.  But I believe it is equally important to come up with new and innovative “direct-to- student” funding. The administration and alumni should work together to promote more private sector scholarships, grants and low interest loans to students. Large businesses should be contacted to create corporate-sponsored scholarships. Businesses surrounding all the campuses need to be solicited for student aid and work study programs.

Congress and the State legislature can help minimize the fiscal impact by making low-cost loans available. Instead of cutting loan programs, lawmakers should be urged to expand student loan opportunities.Lending institutions participating in these programs should be limited in the interest rates charged (rates should be slightly above the Prime Rate) in return for a government guarantee of payment. This is a concept that can be implemented with little impact on Federal and State budgets. The banks would still realize an acceptable return and students would have an available source of funds.

3. What form should Penn State’s land-grant mission take in the 21st century?

Penn State’s heritage as a “Land Grant University” is deeply rooted in agriculture. I feel strongly that the University should remain committed to education, research and extension services in all areas of agriculture. A large segment Pennsylvania’s population is involved directly or tangentially in businesses based upon agricultural production. Penn State must continue directing efforts toward improving our farming industry.

I also believe that the land grant mission should include research and educational efforts directed toward preserving and utilizing the vast natural resources available in this state. Reducing America’s dependence on foreign-sourced fuels is a goal that can have huge impacts on everything from our environment, to the economy, to this nation’s position on the world stage. Most of the proposed long-term alternatives to foreign energy supplies exist or can be developed in Pennsylvania. I would like to see Penn State become the leader in research in alternative energy production.

A natural corollary to this goal would be the development techniques for harvesting the raw materials and producing the end products in environmentally friendly and sustainable ways. Finally, I believe that Penn State’s land grant mandate should recognize the importance of education and research in all of the science disciplines. Innovations in the areas of medical treatments, pharmacology, biology, chemistry and other sciences result in immediate benefits to mankind and should be pursued aggressively. I believe that Penn State University must ensure that it maintains the faculty, facilities and student population which can lead the way in this endeavor.

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