Scott O. Fozard, Ballot Position No. 50

Scott O. Fozard ’89 Bus
Certified Public Accountant
State College, Pa.

Read Fozard’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?

Many people are asking this question, but my opinion is that many of the answers to this question are very myopic. They focus primarily on increasing public appropriations or complaining about the tragedy of Penn State’s appropriations and their decline. The security of Penn State’s financial future will not be attained by focusing only on the appropriations from the Commonwealth. These appropriations account for a relatively small share of Penn State’s budget (approximately 7-13% over the last 10 years). Penn State needs to secure its financial future by evaluating all sources of its revenues and ensuring that it provides an appropriate value for its stakeholders and their relative investment…whether that is the Commonwealth, students, alumni, faculty or other stakeholders. The conversation about Penn State’s budget has been dominated by revenue streams associated with Commonwealth appropriations. Unfortunately, little has been addressed regarding the total Penn State budget and the effective utilization of the University’s expenditures and resources in all facets of its operations. Penn State will secure its financial future by enhancing all revenue streams and providing cost effective value for its stakeholders. That means a critical evaluation of all sides (income, expenses and capital expenditures) of its finances.

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 is a multi-faceted organization with a multitude of offerings to its stakeholders. Education has been and will continue to be the foundation of Penn State and its mission for student excellence. As such, the relative contribution from Penn State’s students is appropriately a significant share of Penn State’s revenue (27 – 32% over the last 10 years). A college education has been and probably always will be the best investment that anyone can make in themselves or their future. The value of a college education as measured by future earnings far outpaces the cost of college tuition. All that said, we have to be careful how we define “affordability” as it relates to the value that Penn State does or does not provide to its stakeholders. I keep referring to stakeholders because Penn State reaches and affects many more groups than just students, alumni or faculty. It is the combined impact to all stakeholder parties that makes Penn State who it is today and how its cost is supported by a relative value. Is a college education expensive? It certainly is. Is Penn State among the most expensive public institutions? It certainly is. Does Penn State provide a higher value to its stakeholders than does its competitors? I certainly hope that is the case and it is our job as alumni and Penn State leaders to ensure that its value is maximized…through appropriate tuition levels coupled with exceptional value.

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

I don’t believe that Penn State’s current mission is flawed or needs dramatic changes. Its strategic plan emphasizes seven primary goals related to student success, academic excellence, a global presence, maintaining access, serving the people of the Commonwealth, technology, and cost effectiveness. These are appropriate goals and set forth a pertinent strategy for Penn State in the 21st century. Unfortunately, the implementation of the strategy does not appear to be happening with vision and leadership. We are not effectively analyzing or utilizing our vast resources. The reason we are going through this massive election effort is because our current Board of Trustees is not effectively leading Penn State for the benefit of its stakeholders. So, the 21st century doesn’t require a new vision or mission, but it does require effective leadership to implement its vision and execute the plan to attain our goals of student success, academic excellence, a global market, access, serving the people of the Commonwealth, technology, and cost effectiveness.

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