Jonathan Mills, Ballot Position No. 43
Read Mills’ 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?
Each of these three questions are connected to one another by the financial issues of the day. Inevitably, there will be some overlap. Declining State Appropriations must bring discussions on just how much influence the State or Governor should have on University policy. This supports the argument for change in the Board of Trustee structure. It is my position that the number of appointees should be reduced
—B.O.T. should strive to make the Branch Campus System self-sufficient. Certainly there are repetitive costs and program offerings that could be streamlined.
—Provide incentives for faculty and administrators to pursue external funding from public and private sources.
—Investigate and implement greater global outreach. Significant revenues could be achieved through these programs without the additional facilities costs.
—The Board of Trustees need to address the financial challenges of the University from an increase in revenues, cut costs view, rather than, how do we get more from the state view point. Most states are cutting funding to higher education and the trend in Pennsylvania will continue.
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.
In the 1970’s tuition accounted for only thirty percent of the University operating budget. Currently, tuition is over seventy five percent of the current operating budget. This is a huge shift over the years. Penn State has become one the most expensive public universities in the country with tuition costs at roughly $15,000 per year for an in-state student.
—Penn State has had a strong history for fund raising. The Board of Trustees should reassess the development initiatives to focus on scholarships and funds directed to students rather than continued facilities additions and capital developments.
—Penn State should maximize the use of technology in education. The World Campus program is a great start in not only saving dollars for students, but extending outreach. Global outreach should be a revenue stream for Penn State.
—I would like to see greater acceptance of high school honors and advanced placement programs. In these programs, college credits are earned prior to high school graduation. This would be another way to reduce tuition, room & board dollars paid by each student. It is our responsibility as a Land Grant University to provide higher education to residents of our state. This should be a priority for the Board.
3. What form should Penn State’s land-grant mission take in the 21st century?
Most people probably are not sure of what “Land Grant” University means. In short the Morrill Acts of 1862 & 1890 provided federal land to individual states to develop programs of higher education in Agriculture, Science and Engineering in addition to the Liberal Arts. This is our history and who we are as a University.
I feel Penn State University would be best served to not move away from the designation but enhance it. We need to find ways to expand the extension programs, and make them self-sustaining. Although extension programs include Agriculture, Energy & Natural Resources and others, programs could be extended to technology issues and other disciplines not now part of the extension programs. These new programs should be a source of additional revenue to make the entire program sustainable.
As a Land Grant institution, Penn State University has a responsibility to the people of Pennsylvania to continue the mission of higher education in Agriculture, Engineering and Science. Many Alumni feel we have strayed too far from the Land Grant mission. The Board of Trustees needs to use fresh ideas to streamline costs, cut tuition, and continue the mission of a Land Grant institution into the future.