Pratima Gatehouse, Ballot Position No. 69

Pratima Gatehouse ’96, ’10g Eng
Vice President, Production Design, Avalon Partners
Short Hills, N.J.

Read Gatehouse’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 has a secure financial future with or without state appropriations. State funding is currently 12% of the operating budget (excluding the Hershey Medical Center). Therefore, it is an important part of helping Penn Sate keep tuition down and provide more program options. That 12% is about $200 million; tuition and research bring in more than $800 million per year each. Penn State is a leader in industrial research funding and strong in most research fields. We should grow that area by investing more in faculty and students that conduct that research. Also, newly constructed buildings should be value-engineered with 10% of the funds set aside to endow research faculty such that once the building is fully constructed, those research funds can support the operational costs of that building. For example, the Millenium Science Center’s final cost was  $215 million, which is more than double than the originally contemplated budget. I believe that capital cost overrun would have been better spent attracting faculty that would have created start of the art research programs, which in turn attracts the best gradate students and creates attractive areas of study for undergraduates. As a mechanical engineer (both graduate and undergraduate) at Penn State, I think I can help Penn State secure its financial position while increasing academic excellence. Investing in strong faculty and students will result in greater long-term revenue growth.

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 has an extremely high job placement rate for its graduates. Even at current tuition rates, Penn State is a value for the quality of education received.  That being said, I believe Penn State should stop the increase of in-state tuition to match the policy of top ranked Universities such as U of Michigan and U C Berkeley. Namely, in-state tuition should be 50% of out-of-state. This compliments our land grant mission and should also ensure that we retain as much state funding as the state will allow. This should be revisited if the state keeps cutting funding drastically. Additionally, I think we need to focus on increasing the amount of University funding given to high merit students that need aid, including those from middle class families that do not qualify for programs such as the Pell Grant. Tuition will rise with increased academic standing, which is reasonable as long as the education is still a value. My husband and I have endowed two scholarships. They provide $3500 per year per scholarship, which was close to what we received when we went to Penn State in the 90’s. The difference is that amount was equivalent to half our tuition then but is barely a quarter now. The For the Future campaign focuses on increasing the endowments for scholarships. We need to continue on that path to increase the amount and number of scholarships so Penn State will always be a high value education.

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

Penn State should be a forum and a vehicle for the exchange of knowledge and ideas on a global basis. This should take the form of world class research programs that attract the best faculty, graduate students and undergraduate students from around the nation and the world to come and work and study in Pennsylvania at Penn State. Today’s companies are global, communication is global and students graduating from Penn State, whether from Lima, Peru or Peru, Pennsylvania need to be prepared to be global. Providing access to education is not as much about physical proximity as affordability and applicability to today’s job market.  If we can keep tuition for all students at a level that is affordable, while achieving the global reach of the University, I believe we can achieve our mission. I also believe Penn State has a greater duty to make education affordable for Pennsylvania students. As a person of multicultural background, born and raised in Pennsylvania, I believe I have a unique mindset to help Penn State meet its land-grant mission in the 21st century.

Next candidate

Back to Board of Trustees Election 2012 home page

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Anonymous  |  January 9, 2013 at 1:20 pm

    can not vote for you. feel sad~

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Trackback this post  |  Subscribe to the comments via RSS Feed

%d bloggers like this: