David L. Roush, Ballot Position No. 40
Read Roush’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?
a. Place a moratorium on any current or future proposed acquisitions of real property or construction of new facilities. Buildings look beautiful, but are costly to maintain, even if constructed using funds from external sources. As tuition increases, enrollment can be expected to decline, and with it – the need for additional square-footage of facilities.
b. Create and enforce a tuition cap OR a set maximum allowable tuition increase for the next five years to allow current and future students to accurately plan their funding needs. Utilize across-the-board spending cuts to live within the cap or pre-set increases.
c. Increase efforts to drive revenue out of preexisting Auxiliary Enterprises. Put the facilities and infrastructure that we already have in place to better use.
d. Encourage alumni to rally legislators to increase appropriations.
e. Form a panel of experts to begin drafting a 10-year strategic contingency plan that includes transition to private status. If appropriations disappear, we need to be ready to live inside of that reality.
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. Redouble efforts by the University Development Department to build endowment for in-state need-based scholarships. While merit-based awards are important for attracting top-performing students, some top-performers already have the means to pay, yet are partaking of funds that, if directed to the right needy student, could mean the difference between them attending or not.
b. Work towards a system of guaranteed minimum scholarship awards to ALL in-state students offered admission to the University. Create a system where the incentive for in-state students to enroll locally is generated by University and Philanthropic funds, and not from a state taxpayer-funded discount.
c. Self-contained independent community colleges remain a very affordable option in some areas of the country. The University should investigate the feasibility of transitioning commonwealth campuses toward functioning similarly to the Auxiliary Enterprise units. That is, become more self-supporting, living on their own independent budgets like a community college of similar size and enrollment.
d. Move towards a more multi-tiered tuition rate system, with the smallest commonwealth campuses, serving the most economically depressed regions, having significantly lower tuition rates than larger campuses in more economically diverse regions.
e. Create a division within the Office of Student Aid specifically charged with researching and creating a database of every private scholarship opportunity in the state, including those for high school seniors. Many high schools do a great job of this in their own communities, while others do not. Think of it like internship or job-placement for scholarships NOT awarded by the University.
3. What form should Penn State’s land-grant mission take in the 21st century?
I don’t believe the land-grant mission itself – has changed much at all. From the time the Farmer’s High School was founded until today we have always been about providing a “practical education” in “several pursuits and professions in life.” I believe we are still charged with doing so. The difference between that age – and the present – is conditions and values have shifted.
Today we are losing our graduates to other states that have a more robust opportunity climate. If our land grant mission has changed – it should now be to transform the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania into an incubator of innovation. Our mission should be one that makes Pennsylvania a place where students not only want to move to attend school, but a place where they want to stay when they graduate.
We’ve made it through far more difficult economic times. Now it’s time for us Penn Stater’s to do what we do best: persevere. Innovate. State appropriations are dwindling, and tough decisions must be made moving forward. But the mission has not changed: keep it quality, keep it affordable, and keep it accessible. With your vote – that’s exactly what I will work to accomplish.