John P. Rodgers, Ballot Position No. 84
Read Rodgers’ 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 financial mismanagement of Penn State under former President Spanier and the current Board of Trustees must end. Tuition should be immediately frozen. My long term plan would be to reduce tuition to less than $10,000 per year for in state residents. This would make Penn State once again affordable for middle class students. To do this Penn State must stop investing in buildings and start investing in its students. As a member of the BOT I would introduce a resolution to place a moratorium on all building projects. Penn State should also immediately freeze spending and undertake a comprehensive review of its finances. As a result of fiscal mismanagement the ratio of professors to students and employess to students is totally out of line. In the short term Penn State must institute a hiring freeze. After the review of the finances is completed each Department should be required to reduce staffing levels by atleast ten percent.
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.
As I stated prior answer it is my goal to reduce to below $10,000 per year for instate residents within five years. This can be achieved with shared sacrafice by all Penn Staters. First and foremoast Penn State should embark on a new fundrasing campaign with the sole purpose of raising money to subsidize tuition. Nationally the cost of Tuition has increased dramatically due to the fact unlike private business our Universities have been totally fiscally irresponsible. The Board of Trustees at Penn State, like that of many other Universities, has refused to make tough economic decisions. Rather than reducing spending, the Board of Trustees has continually taken the easy way out by raising tuition. I would also propose the creation of a privatiztion task force which would be comprised of Members of the Board of Trustees, Faculy, Staff and Students. It would be the mission of the task force to identify cost savings that could be realized by privatizing University functions. The cost savings realized from this would be used to lower tuition. In conclusion, it is time that Penn State is run like a business.
3. What form should Penn State’s land-grant mission take in the 21st century?
The mission of land grant Universities was originally to focus on teaching agriculture, science and engineering as a response to the industrial revolution and changing social class. While many things are different today, many things are the same. Although our nation is not attempting to address the industrial revolution we are adapting to the many changes associated with new technology. Many things that were staples in our economy have become obsolete. We need to train our future workforce to adapt to these changes.
The issue of the changing social class is very similar. We have a county of few very rich people and many middle class people. We also have many people living in poverty. I belive that our current Board of Trustees is totally insensitive to needs of middle class people.
The BOT is controlled by rich corporate executives and hedge fund managers many of whom work for comanies that played a role in the wall street scandals of the past few years. The fact that the BOT is totally out of touch with the average person was evidenced by the way that they handled the recent scandal. Rather than taking a proactive approach they buried their heads. After they could no longer bury their heads they placed blame on the one person who did more good for Penn State than anyone in its history. We must replace all of the members of the current Board with individuals who are commiteed to continuing Penn State’s Land Grant mission.