Jayne E. Miller, Ballot Position No. 26
Read Miller’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?
In the immediate future, Penn State must continue to repair the damage from the Sandusky scandal. The potential liability it faces from alleged victims is just part of the financial risk that lies ahead. Funders, donors, and prospective students must have confidence that Penn State has embarked on a new course of responsive, transparent leadership. Otherwise, the University will face uncertainty in its support—the very reason Moody’s has assigned to Penn State a “negative outlook.”
For the long term, Penn State should seize the opportunity to lead the way in higher education in fiscal reform. The Board of Trustees should appoint a task force to recommend substantive change to put Penn State on a more sustainable course. It should include outside experts in finance, development, and cost controls. It should engage in bold discussion about the structure of the Penn State system. The task force should operate separately from but in full awareness of the Governor’s recently appointed commission on higher education, on which Penn State is represented. The Board’s task force should hold as its top priority Penn State’s academic independence.
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.
Penn State must shed the label “Most Expensive” public university in the country for in-state students. It was bestowed last year by US News & World Report. In its place must be “Best Value.” Budget reform, as discussed above, is the first step to tuition reform. Government and business all over the country are evaluating how much they spend and where. Penn State must do the same. Salaries and benefits, programs and services, capital costs—all must be evaluated with the consistent goal of achieving the best affordable education in the country. At the same time, fundraising effectiveness must be examined along with new sources of revenue. Penn State can prove it can be a world class institution with tuition rates that are competitive and manageable for students and families determined to achieve excellence in higher education.
3. What form should Penn State’s land-grant mission take in the 21st century?
Penn State’s core mission must remain its bedrock—teaching, research, and public service. But the University must be adaptive in how it carries out the mission. Just as land-grant colleges helped the nation grow, they must now work to better prepare the nation for the challenges of the 21st century. Penn State must provide teachers to improve the nation’s competitiveness in math and science. It must be a leader in research and development of alternative energy. It must teach efficiencies in manufacturing to encourage more domestic production. It must be a center of innovation in areas from agriculture to technology. It must instill a strong sense of ethics and accountability in every course of instruction. All of us are better off for the experience and education we received at Penn State. We must make sure Penn State adhere to its values as a public institution committed to a greater public good.