Gregory H. Wolf, Ballot Position No. 83

Gregory H. Wolf  ’77 H&HD
Business Consultant
State College, Pa.

Read Wolf’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?

The “sharply declining state appropriations” make it clear that the University can NOT rely on the State as an increasing or even stable means of sustenance. Securing the University’s financial future requires prescient planning, spending discipline, effective budgeting, and increased revenues. Much work goes into each of these functions-more than certainly can be addressed here, and it would appear that the University Trustees and Administration have devoted considerable focus on the first three of these tasks. However, I believe that targeting increased sources of revenue is a strategic imperative for the University if it is to secure it’s financial future. Those sources of revenue include Federal funds and research grants, Alumni contributions, partnership and joint venture revenue with business and industry.

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.

Just as contributing members of American society deserve access to quality health care, capable young adults deserve access to a quality post-secondary education. Quite unfortunately, many people do not have the financial ability to make the investment required to secure a college education anywhere, let alone at Penn State. Clearly, many people need financial help if they are to access the education that will enable them to fully develop their capabilities. This is why in answer to the question regarding “declining appropriations”, I suggested a substantial increase in the efforts needed to expand the University’s sources of revenue. For example, because of the tremendous size of Harvard’s endowment, the Harvard University could pay the full tuition of every student attending that University via their endowment – and the Harvard tuition is much higher than that of Penn State. A dramatic increase in philanthropy is required as are partnerships with business and industry that can produce dramatic financial gains through the success of accomplished alumni. The University should establish as it’s philanthropic target, the ability to pay outright the cost of education for any student from Pennsylvania admitted to the University according to the same academic standards as all other students, whose family resources are below a certain level.

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

Penn State’s land grant mission and opportunity emanates from the Morrill Land Grant act of 1862, a federal legislative tri-partite mandate: education (teaching), research and extension (Service). The Act created an opportunity for people of all means throughout the Commonwealth to transition their lives as a result of access to a college education. The costs of maintaining a top tier educational institution such as Penn State has been translated into a cost structure that makes a college education unaffordable for the very people for which it was intended per the legislation. Some people propose abandoning that mission and moving toward the actions of a private university. However, I believe Penn State can continue to fulfill the spirit of the land grant by making the cost of a Penn State education more affordable and by expanding access to highly qualified students through scholarship.  When receiving land from the states, the mission of these schools was the teaching of practical agriculture, science and engineering and was intended to be responsive to the industrial revolution. The most precious resource of the agrarian society was utilized to help establish and maintain a great institution responsive society’s immediate and future needs. I believe that in the current society, informatics is the currency that will enable Penn State to continue to achieve its mission. Just as Penn State exploited the gift of land in the 1800’s, the University can exploit the information technology frontier and continue to provide a relevant education.

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