Joseph H. Clapper III, Ballot Position No. 15

Joseph H. Clapper III ’92g Edu
Superintendent of Schools, Quaker Valley School District
Sewickley, Pa.

Read Clapper’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?

Penn State University has a longstanding tradition of providing high quality education to its students.  Numerous programs and majors are routinely ranked at an elite status.  However, it is imperative that the administration and board closely scrutinize all programs and services provided by the university to determine their overall effectiveness as well as their long-term viability and relevance.

I currently serve as a public school superintendent, so I fully understand the current financial stress being placed on educational institutions.  Last year, funding for K-12 public schools was reduced by nearly $1 billion in the commonwealth. As a result of the funding crisis, I have had to make some very difficult decisions in relation to programs, services to students, and personnel deployment.  I have had to develop a long-term plan for financial sustainability that has included a comprehensive analysis of all facets of all operations.  Clearly, that is the same process that Penn State must be engaged with at the current time.    Penn State must also increase efforts for fund raising from corporations, alumni, and friends. There is no question in my mind that by engaging the creative intellect of faculty, administration, staff, students, and trustees, a comprehensive plan for sustaining the long-term viability of programs and outcomes can be achieved.

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.

It is critical that Penn State maintain an “affordable” status for prospective students.  In order to do so, a multi-pronged approach must be established.

First, Penn State must work closely with today’s high schools to provide a variety of creative “dual enrollment” offerings.  This can be done through either World Campus or other venues using technology.  A reduced tuition arrangement could be established with students/families and school districts.  I have already created this kind of partnership for my school district with Penn State Beaver.  These opportunities must be expanded as many college-bound seniors are prepared to meet the rigors of postsecondary education.

A second approach to make college affordable is to increase work-study opportunities and scholarships for students.  Funding for these opportunities could come corporate or not for profit partnerships.  The university should seek ways to weave experiential learning of students into for credit applications toward degree programs or electives.  These extremely worthwhile, planned experiences could help to reduce or defray costs of tuition.

Finally, the university must become more aggressive relating to fund raising for scholarships for students.   The mantra ought to be this:  Do not deny any capable student the opportunity to enroll and succeed at Penn State University.

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

Penn State is proud to be the lone land-grant institution in the commonwealth of Pennsylvania.  We should be hold fast to our heritage and display a genuine desire to create opportunities for the education and development of the citizenry in the commonwealth and beyond.

The initial emphasis of agriculture, science, and engineering must be maintained as an integral part of our land-grant status.  As we focus on the educational and society needs of the 21st Century, we must develop a relevant focus on teaching, research, and service that will further develop humanity and promote our democracy.

Current research on careers tells us that today’s high school students will participate in 8 to 14 different careers by the time they reach 40 years of age. We must utilize technologies to help us to widen our focus beyond the walls of the classroom in order to prepare our students for careers that currently do not exist.     The mission of Penn State’s land-grant mission should be the same as it was when the university received this designation in 1862.  However, we need to use technological tools that are available today to “promote liberal and practical education in the several pursuits and professions of life.”

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