Neal W. Biege Sr., Ballot Position No. 79
Read Biege’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?
a. Keep the quality of a Penn State education very high which helps create demand even if tuition is high. A recent Wall Street Journal survey ranked Penn State No. 1 among corporate recruiters. A survey by Bloomberg Businessweek of corporate recruiters ranked the Penn State Smeal College of Business No. 1 among all undergraduate business programs.
b. Cut costs by more extensive use of new teaching technologies. Don’t be to education what Borders was to books. Today’s technology brings the best instructors to more students at lower costs.
c. Continue a high level of alumni donations by promoting the university. Do not deemphasize football since it is a great media outlet.
d. Do a better job of convincing the electorate and in turn politicians, to increase funding for higher education. Of all government programs, support of higher education is the only one proven to change people’s economic standing in life.
e. The effect on our IMAGE from the Sandusky scandal and the board’s reaction, including the firing of Joe Paterno, could have a serious financial impact if the culture of the Board of Trustees is not changed. As a Retired Marketing VP I can help repair the tarnished image of Penn State. As a former General Manager I can be persistent in leading cost reduction. Using my experience as a former Chairman of a 62 member committee of the world’s leading cement industry group, I can take a leadership role within this 32 member board to implement these changes.
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 may now be the most expensive state university in the nation. According to the College Board, public four-year colleges charge on average $7,605 per year in tuition and fees for full-time in-state students. Ohio State University charges less than $10,000. Penn State’s tuition is currently around $16,000. Numerous factors have caused our tuition to become so high. Among those factors are: A lack of enough emphasis on cost reduction; and a lack of funding by the state. Penn State only receives 4-5% of its funding from the state.
High cost along with current negative publicity will likely cause student population to deteriorate, especially the higher paying out of state students which comprised 44% last year. A Penn State education used to be very attainable by in-state average income families who could afford it based on a mixture of parents’ support, student employment and loans.
My background as a General Manager provides the experience and the bold leadership to address this issue. Areas of focus could be:
a. Cut cost every way we can especially expanding the use of the latest teaching technology.
b. Use benchmarking to understand and beat the costs of the competition.
c. Get more state funding through political advocacy.
d. Continue high levels of donations by promoting the value of the university through all media channels.
5. Consider pruning out whole sections of the University that are the least cost effective when compared with other quality universities.
3. What form should Penn State’s land-grant mission take in the 21st century?
When the federal government gave federal land to set up an endowment to fund colleges, the colleges had to pledge that the cost of this new higher education would remain within reach of Americans of average financial means. Land-grant institutions thus have often been termed “democracy’s colleges.” I don’t believe we should change the charter of the Land-grant act.
All other rules are created by the board of trustees and can be changed by the board of trustees. The state contributes only 4% of the budget but has essential control over the board in that the Governor controls 11 of the 32 board members, four from the state, six appointed by the governor, and has the strongest hand in picking the six industrial leaders elected by the board.
The Governor on the board of directors appears to be a conflict of interest. He cut state support and was no help in the Sandusky case. The Governor is correct in saying Penn State can and should cut costs. We need to do cost cutting at the university level and increase the state contribution by influencing the political arena. Board reform is needed to provide better balance. I will try to restructure the board by decreasing the number of appointed seats and increasing the number of seats elected by the alumni. With enough focus and effort we can rebuild the tarnished image of Penn State and make it stronger than ever! Make an Impact—Vote for#79 Neal W Biege