David E. Robbins, Ballot Position No. 10
Read Robbins’ 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?
There was a time when the cost of a Penn State education was within the reach of families of modest means. Many of us benefitted from that arrangement. Sadly, that isn’t true anymore. Rising costs and reduced state support (funding for PSU has decreased from nearly 65% to less than 20% of the University’s budget since the 1970s) have made Penn State an expensive choice.
It is imperative that the University and its Board create a positive, open relationships with legislators, especially alumni lawmakers, to assure sufficient government financing. I have already discussed this with some legislators who would like to assist in efforts to maintain Penn State as a priority. Education paves the path to success.
Our future alumni are stakeholders in PSU’s future. PSU’s Administration and Alumni Association should promote programming and engage students as “alumni” before they graduate to encourage their allegiance to the University (e.g., help students see value as an “alumni” while still in school).
We need to take advantage of the shrinking world and prepare our students for participation in the global economy. An adjunct of this concept is PSU’s recruitment of international students (through increasing PSU’s overseas’ presence) who will pay full tuition while expanding the cultural exposure of Pennsylvania’s own.
The recent alumni outpouring reflects the prospect of tapping past students for their knowledge, connections and other expertise to help make Penn State more efficient and better operated on the available funds. Won’t you join me?
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.
TEN Ways to Stem Rising Tuition:
1 – Imagination Initiatives – Establish a modest financial pool (vetted by an alumni panel) to reward students and faculty who submit creative ideas that implement cost reductions and revenue generation.
2 – Renaissance Professors – Promote a culture of cross-competency in faculty to cover a broader range of teaching and serve as role models to advance love of learning for its own sake.
3 – Imagine Penn State’s Future and Create It – BOT must focus on anticipating opportunities and needs in fulfilling its mission of guidance and oversight.
4 – Lawmaker Involvement – Enlist legislators (especially alumni) in strategic planning thus appropriating them as stakeholders in University’s continued success. Make PSU indispensable to the Commonwealth by envisioning a distinctive role for the University in advancing Commonwealth’s interests.
5 – Actualize Alumni – Capitalize on collective knowledge, influence and commitment of alumni (i.e., relationships with shared revenue potential, volunteerism). Exercise political influence by tapping alumni network.
6 – Embracing change – Use faculty expertise in recognizing developments as a source of potential efficiencies.
7 – Telecommunications – Deployment of audio/visual technology allowing students and professors to see/hear one another from multiple campuses.
8 – Volunteerism – Enlist student efforts within a student’s curriculum at the University as a way of expanding the “classroom” and supporting University functions.
9 – Multiple use of facilities – Repurposing facilities to many uses.
10 – PSU’s Think Tank – identify areas of specialized intellectual value and capitalize on those resources in a financial sense.
3. What form should Penn State’s land-grant mission take in the 21st century?
Penn State has already generated significant revenue through the Penn State World Campus. The on-line programming helps improve PSU’s bottom line without increasing expenses related to conventional bricks and mortar education. But the World Campus is also serving active duty personnel, veterans and military dependents who benefit from a Penn State education on-line on a subsidized basis.
The proactive use of technology has allowed our small corner of the universe (what we call Happy Valley) to penetrate the four corners of the globe. Our land grant institution must continue to employ technology proactively and assure our position on the cutting-edge of education worldwide. The revenue from efficient programming can subsidize programs for Pennsylvania’s students.
Please check my facebook page PennState&Imagination.