Sam Y. Zamrik, Ballot Position No. 27

Sam Y. Zamrik ’61g, ’65g Eng
Professor Emeritus, Engineering Mechanics, Penn State
Mesa, Ariz.

Read Zamrik’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 decline in state appropriations has a serious damaging effect on the university budget and carrying out programs. The first inclination is to raise tuition. It is a sobering possibility that we may face but must be avoided because we have remedies that we can institute. This situation reminds me of serious financial problems our professional society was facing. Increase of dues was ruled out because economic downtrend and loss of jobs. As a member of the board of governors, we instituted immediate reforms: combined number of related programs. Increased our professional educational courses, combined regional offices and reduced the overhead. We hired financial advisors to manage our investments. In a short time, we reversed the downtrend. Today, the society is financially sound and growing. Penn State must start looking inward on its operation:

a) Scale down its building construction.

b) Increase online programs through our World Campus that generated considerable income to leading universities.

c) Increase our continuing education offerings of short courses and conferences in the summer.

d) Combine similar operations.

e) External auditors to scrutinize the operating budget for cost savings and identify duplication in services and root out waste.

f) Manage our investment portfolio by professional investors with an oversight.

g) Increase alumni financial participation in sponsoring scholarships and endowment. We are the world’s largest dues-paying alumni association. If necessary, maintain modest tuition increases to complement budget 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.

This question is a most troubling issue for all institutions. Tuition is part of the income Universities rely on for academic growth an important component of the budget. We had continuous increases in tuition for 10 years, causing alarming growth with student’s debt in economic downtrends and parental hardship. The Governor announced 30% cut in state funding compared to 18 % last year. Engineering departments have been told to cut budget by 2%, a hardship on their programs. To overcome this hardship, some universities have modest increases around 3%, others like Arizona State University announced a freeze next year. To address tuition issue:

a) Sound fiscal planning and greater operating efficiency. Combine operations that can be managed in each office. Since we have commonwealth campuses, we can process payroll, purchasing by a regional center to minimize overhead expenses.

b) Encourage legislative officials to recognize education is the future of the commonwealth and investing in Penn State is an assurance for developing future leaders. It is the Governor’s responsibility to support higher education. Government has many wasted programs where cuts can be made to supplement educational programs.

c) Administrators should identify and root out wasteful practices, reevaluate staff structure and need.

d) Engage financial support of alumni to establish student scholarships relieving financial burden, enlist alumni Donors to establish more endowments.

e) Increase online programs to generate more revenues.

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

One has to look at the inception of Penn State. It was founded as a degree-granting institution on Feb. 22, 1855 by act P.L. 46, No 50 of the General Assembly of the commonwealth of Pennsylvania as the Farmers’ High School of Pennsylvania. With the passage of the Morill Land-Grant Acts, the school was selected in 1863 as the state’s sole land-grant College. It has been a long road since then and the College in 1953 became Penn State University. Even though in 1970, we became state-related, the State should still embrace the land-grant act because we are a public research university with campuses and facilities throughout the State. Our mission is very clear, teaching, research and public service. Today we are a global institution recognized nationally and internationally. Our academic programs have to be continuously changing to keep up with the changing world of technology. Our students have to be involved, by participating and understanding the diversity of world culture. Expand the role of our 24 campuses with online learning to embrace the changes in our education due to influence of social media and advances in technology. Increase distance learning by offering degrees in all disciplines and expand our World-Campus that was inaugurated in 1998. We have to assert our impact on the State’s economy. University innovative research and advances in technology will impact the Commonwealth by developing new industry and economic growth.

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