Richard Dirk Matson, Ballot Position No. 6

Richard_Dirk_MatsonRichard Dirk Matson ’77 H&HD
President/COO, Adelphoi Village
Ligonier, Pa.

Read Matson’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?

The solutions I will advocate for include reducing our need for state appropriations by cutting expenses, expanding revenue sources, reclaiming our honor, giving alumni more voice at the Trustee level, and diligent long term planning.  Penn State will not receive the type of support from the state legislature that we have enjoyed prior to 2011/2012. Pennsylvania’s debt from state worker and teacher pensions are expected to create an unfunded liability of $40.1 billion by 2013, compared with an unfunded liability today in excess of $20 billion. Pair that with a pledge by our Governor and many state legislators to not raise taxes and with the state’s economy not fully recovered, Pennsylvania does not have the money to allocate like in the past.

From a purely financial standpoint for the short term, that leaves reduction of expenses and raising revenues from other sources. As a Trustee, I would require the administration to recommend a reduction of expenses with a goal of a tuition increase of no more than 2%.

We need to vigilantly market the many qualities of our university to reclaim our honor and our brand. We also need a change in the structure of our Board of Trustees to give alumni a majority voice at the university, with 17 elected alumni.   Our long term strategic planning requires addressing the changing needs of students, building our brand, creating good value with our product, generating alternative revenue sources by developing private/public partnerships, and continuing to reduce expenses.

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.

Our in-state tuition was recently ranked the highest nationally in the nation for a public university by US News. In 2001, the tuition for a PSU freshman was $7,000. In 2011, it was nearly $15,000. It doubled in ten years. We can legitimately argue the value of a Penn State education is worth the cost or we can state that we are not a purely public institution, thus the comparison with other public institutions is not fair. However, the fact that our tuition doubled in 10 years is troubling.  Many of the solutions for this problem are the same as outlined in my answer for securing our financial future. We need to reduce expenses, reclaim our honor and our “brand,” vigilantly market our qualities, and seek additional revenue thru private/public/university partnerships. My goal is to seek a budget with a tuition increase of no more than 2%.

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

Penn State has been a land-grant university since 1863, one year after their creation by the Morrill Act of 1862. It is the foundation of who we are as a university. This land-grant foundation is based on community outreach, accessible education, applied research, improvement of the human condition through education of all classes and ethnicity, and cooperative extension. These core values should not change. Our practices can change but only if they remain true to our values.

I propose these adaptations and continuances:

  • Development of more private enterprise/university and public/university partnerships to create resources for research and education.
  • Raise awareness for alumni, stakeholders, and the public on the core values of a land-grant university and the practical application of the values in order to demonstrate their worthiness.
  • Continued growth of our World Campus, currently with 70 programs to choose from, for anyone to be able to access our educational system, a core value of land-grant universities.
  • Making sure that all departments throughout the university are truly committed to the values outlined above, through assessment and accountability.
  • Ensure who we are hire is committed to the land-grant mission.
  • Ensure our financial viability, as outlined in my previous answers.

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2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Anonymous  |  November 23, 2012 at 6:37 pm

    remember me Dirk?? from Greystone House 1978??

  • 2. Anonymous  |  November 23, 2012 at 6:42 pm

    I recall how you loved Linda Ronstadt.. By the way, This is James Kormanec, i was 16 then.. an inmate at the house ..lol Not sure if you recall. Victor Toucho was theSuper back then. we used to go sledding near his cottage… Fun times…

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