James R. Antoniono, Ballot Position No. 39
Read Antoniono’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?
Annual tuition increases have become a serious problem, one the Board of Trustees MUST address. We have one of the highest in-state tuitions of any school in the Big Ten. That is a number one ranking we should NOT be proud of.
Penn State’s mission states: “As Pennsylvania’s land-grant university, we provide unparalleled access and public service to support the citizens of the Commonwealth.” We are failing miserably in providing “unparalleled access” to the citizens of the Commonwealth. Working class families are finding it very difficult to send their sons and daughters to PSU and many students are leaving PSU with education debt in the six figures.
There are two ways to tackle this problem, cut cost to lower the per-credit tuition rate and raise more money to cover the cost of a first class education. The athletic department has set a great example. They do not take in the most money of any Big Ten school but they have operated the athletic department at a lower cost than many of the universities. The result is that our athletic department is the most profitable athletic department in the Big Ten. That is a first place position we can be proud of!!!
If we scrutinize the University budget line by line, from the budget for the Trustees and the Office of the President on down, we will find dollars that can be saved without jeopardizing the quality of education.
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 a continuation of the answer to Question 1: That is one half of the equation; the other half is to raise more money. In today’s environment, many non-profits are looking at starting for-profit business as a way of replacing shrinking government funds.
A mistake all boards commonly make is to believe that all problems must be solved among the board members. In a University settling we are blessed with being surrounded by great minds. When there are difficult problems to solve or issues to explore, I am in favor of creating an ad hoc “Task Force” chaired by a Board member but composed of board members, facility and alumni to explore issues and solve problems.
Penn State has one of the most recognized brands in the county; we need to make use of that brand. When I was President of the Student Government, we fought the University to open a book store on campus. We were opposed by the University because of some agreement they were suppose to have with the town. We finally opened the first used book store on campus in the HUB and now there is a great bookstore on campus. We can cross pollinate our academic disciplines to come up with new and innovative ways to make money to lower tuition cost. We should be able to be able to leverage our billions of dollars in endowments into profit making ventures and use this money to lower tuition rates
3. What form should Penn State’s land-grant mission take in the 21st century?
The original Land Grant mission was to provide students with an agricultural and technical education as opposed to the traditional liberal arts curriculum. That part of our land grant mission will never change. The partnership with the state to help pay for that mission has however changed. The state provides less than 6% of the overall budget however the governor controls 11 Board seats.
Unfortunately when most people, including most of our alumni, think of Penn State being in the Big Ten, they think of it in strictly an athletic perspective. The real benefit of Penn State joining the Big Ten has been academics. From the time we entered the Big Ten, the quality of the academics offered at Penn State has soared and continues to soar. There was immediate pressure to compete with and reach the academic level of schools like the University of Michigan, Northwestern University and the University of Chicago to name a few. Being a part of the Big Ten has resulted in Penn State becoming one of the top academic institutions in the country. It is not simply the idea of being No 1 on the football field, wrestling mat, etc. it is being No. 1 in the academic rankings among the various disciplines within the university system. Thanks to the legacy left by Coach Paterno, the intertwining of athletics and academics has been a blessing to Penn State and has furthered the original land grant academic mission. For more complete answers: jra4psutrustee.blogspot.com