Richard L. Marshall, Ballot Position No. 46

Richard L. Marshall ’92 Lib
Vice President, Alliance Bernstein
Mount Kisco, N.Y.

Read Marshall’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?

In the short term, President Erickson and the Board of Trustees must continue to apply pressure to the Pennsylvania State Legislature and demonstrate the positive economic impact of the University to the Commonwealth.  They, along with the University, also should focus on creating the next generation of state leadership to help ensure state support in the long term.

However, Penn State needs continue as if its reduced appropriations are permanent and implement a strategy to move forward, including revisiting the Grand Destiny Campaign, the most successful fundraising campaign in University history.  Penn State needs to take advantage of the largest alumni base in the country to financially secure its future.

Penn State also should look at industry trends and assess how Penn State can position itself to take advantage of such trends.  As an example, many businesses outsource offshore, but firms and their clients are growing increasingly frustrated with the quality of offshore outsourcing are turning to onshoring.  Penn State should consider the role it can play in this growing trend.  The University can leverage the Smeal College of Business to create a platform for placing graduates in onshore facilities, including the use of local space for such facilities.  Penn State can work with businesses to create local training programs (that could be paired with Smeal MBA programs) that would not only give students more employment opportunities but also enhance Penn State’s partnerships with these businesses.  Such programs would benefit the University, its students and graduates, and its business partners.

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 should look into programs to maintain tuition for incoming students.  For example, Penn State should consider options for students to lock in tuition rates upon initial enrollment.  Penn State can also expand its prepaid tuition programs and target such incentives to early commitments.

In addition, to make tuition more affordable, the University can use donations to offset the cost of tuition rather than just as an offset of scholarships.  The University also needs to look at reigning in costs overall.  Expenditures like parking lot expansions, conversion of double rooms into single rooms (except in places like Schreyer Honors College where this is a competitive advantage), and other measures to improve the student experience re-evaluated to determine whether they are necessary.  The Board also should investigate how underutilized facilities (like Willard building) can be repurposed or retrofitted with current technology to replicate the experience in newer buildings like the Joab Thomas Classroom Building.

All major construction projects should be reevaluated for need and construction spending should focus on necessary repairs (such as South Halls renovations) and upgrades.  The Board should focus on direct cost comparisons on the budget from 1992 as tuition has tripled in that amount of time.  The University should consider corporate sponsorships for building projects and other construction.  As an incentive for the potential sponsors, the University can tie-in internship programs, which would involve students to the benefit of the sponsor and the students.

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

Land Grant institutions were created in the mid-19th century to bring education to working class farmers, engineers, and scientists.  These areas seem more relevant today, in this long overdue age of environmental awareness.  Penn State must take advantage of its agricultural roots and be a leading force in the areas of farming, land use and the environment as we progress into the 21st century, domestically and beyond our borders.

Domestically, Penn State needs to look at current agricultural environmental issues and be a leader in the areas of organic, sustainable, or ‘green’ farming, including increasing crop yields so that organic, non-modified and non-chemically enhanced agricultural products crops are more available and affordable.  Penn State’s Extension program could be the tool to get more involved with the farming communities in Pennsylvania.

As many of you see driving across the great Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, the older farms are that have not already been developed and under-utilized.  There is a real opportunity for Penn State to work with farmers to use these farms and land to increase sustainable agriculture, which would greatly benefit Penn State, its students, the farmers and the population of Pennsylvania as a whole with potential for increased economic benefits.  Penn State is uniquely positioned for this role and could be a leader among the land grant institutions in this regard.

Internationally, Penn State should look to current methods of modification and standard farming to increase yields and potential for growth in lesser developed areas around the world.

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