Darlene R. Baker, Ballot Position No. 86

Darlene R. Baker ’80 Sci
Vice President of Operations, PSKW LLC
Warminster, Pa.

Read Baker’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 be creative in light of the new reality. Any organization needs to continually review its operations for efficiency, prioritize each of it initiatives whether capital expenditures, expansion planning, and even its planning horizon.

Educational quality and continued research cannot be sacrificed as that is what we owe to future generation of Penn Staters. Declining government funding has been an issue in the past will continue to be a challenge that will require collective brain storming that produces tangible actions and continued focus by the Board of Trustees. It will be interesting to review the current financial plans to that they are grounded in the new reality. I look forward to ensuring the financial success of Penn State.

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.

This is not an easy issue to tackle and is a broader issue than Penn State. I am not sure that I am qualified to make recommendations. But to try to answer the question, steps that could be considered: working with state and federal government to assist with additional taxes credits, taking advantage of technology with out-of-the-box thinking on how to change how we educate by reducing brick and mortar overhead, and reviewing success of funding strategies such PA 529 College savings plan to determine if they are working. While there is no easy answer to this question, we need to educate our kids and it needs to be a priority.

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

The mission is very simple – Teaching, Research and Service. Penn State has an outstanding tradition in each area:

•Teaching – Penn State continues to be the number one university for corporate recruiting; we must continue this level of teaching commitment and quality. Our faculty should be proud.

•Research – Penn State’s commitment to research, sharing and collaboration on their research efforts is second to none.

•Service – The commitment to public service to support the citizens of the Commonwealth and making the world a better place is a common theme through- out Penn State. Whether it is through ground-breaking research, or supporting  collaborative activities with industrial, educational, and agricultural partners, or participating in the many philanthropic and charitable organizations (Thon being largest student run philanthropy in the world), our students, faculty and staff continue to passionately honor the mission. I wouldn’t change the mission but continue the proud tradition and enhance the recognition and spotlight opportunities that showcase Penn State’s contributions and accomplishments to provide broader positive exposure for our university.

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