Joshua D. Fulmer, Ballot Position No. 25
Read Fulmer’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?
As a University we need to understand the financial constraints every citizen of the Commonwealth is under. We are faced with rising taxes, decreased budgets, expanding costs, and exponentially increasing tuition.
The Board of Trustees has an obligation to ensure that Penn State remains a place where Commonwealth residents can receive an education of the highest quality, at a reasonable price. We must work closely with the State Legislature to ensure that we receive the maximum amount of funding, but we must also understand that in the current economic environment, we are forced to make tough budgetary decisions and reduce operating expenses across the board. Finally, Governor Corbett has called for a substantial reduction in the state’s appropriation to Penn State. I believe it is an enormous conflict of interest for the Governor to propose such a reduction, while sitting on the board and deciding which programs within Penn State need to be cut. It is clear that he will pressure the board to make sufficient cuts in order to justify the reduction to the state appropriation. I have called for the Governor, in his role as a trustee, to abstain from voting on any budgetary issues, and also speaking with the board on these matters in order to avoid any undue influence over the other Trustees. I would ask that you join in my Petition to the Governor, which can be found on www.joshuafulmer.com.
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.
While a reduced budget will require us to make difficult cuts that will affect the quality of student life, we have an obligation to the students to keep tuition affordable. If elected to the Board, one of my primary objectives will be to start a tuition locking program. Tuition should not increase during a student’s attendance at Penn State. It is only fair that a student know prior to committing to attend a University what the cost of that education will be, and students should not have to live in fear of substantial increases in tuition due to a reduction in state appropriations or a possible decision to become a private institution. Finally, we have a responsibility to make sure students understand what their obligations will be after completing their degree. If we can lock the tuition cost for the length of a student’s degree, then we can accurately predict the costs of attendance, and we should provide students with an estimate of the total debt that will be incurred, and the monthly payments they will be required to repay upon graduation, so that they can make an informed decision.
3. What form should Penn State’s land-grant mission take in the 21st century?
As I stated, the Board of Trustees has an obligation to ensure that Penn State remains a place where Commonwealth residents can receive an education of the highest quality, at a reasonable price. We are a State University and we must remain that way. I had the privilege of attending the Hazleton campus during my first two years, and I understand the important role the commonwealth campuses play in making higher education a realistic goal for the citizens of our Commonwealth.
Finally, I believe we need to take Penn State back to its roots. The original charter called for a much smaller board, with a few ex-officio members, and a group of individuals that were involved in different sectors of industry. As a University which was founded by the citizens of Pennsylvania, we need to ensure that the Trustees are accountable to the people who empower them. I propose that the Board be reduced to 15 trustees, the Governor, the Secretary of the Commonwealth, the Secretary of Education, the Secretary of Agriculture, two Student Trustees, and nine Alumni Trustees. Again, for more information on my plans for reform, please visit www.joshuafulmer.com.