Shawn D. Manderson, Ballot Position No. 74

Shawn D. Manderson ’03 IST
Internal Auditor, FMC Corporation
Philadelphia, Pa.

Read Manderson’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?

Restructuring of the current University campus system is the first step to secure the University’s financial future. Unifying the resources of the existing 19 campuses and focusing resources and efforts on the local economies simultaneously will increase student enrollment and reduce the University operating costs. The University has already taken steps in this direction. Beginning in the fall of 2012, Penn State Abington, Brandywine and Great Valley will offer a joint Bachelor of Science degree in general engineering. This allows the University to combine the existing resources and strengths of each campus as well as focus on the needs of the local economy. As such, this paves the way for an increase in student enrollment as well as a reduction in operating costs.

This collaboration paves the way for the University to divest from the current nineteen commonwealth campus system and adopt a region-based system similar to other prominent public institutions such as The University of Maryland College Park and The University of Wisconsin. Adopting a region-based approach, the University will become more competitive against other local colleges and universities. Each region would emphasize an academic curriculum based on the economic needs of that the local economy. Decisions on administrative and capital costs, enrollment, and tuition costs, would be based on demand and controlled by each individual campus. Also, the University would have more strategic control over spending while reducing the operating costs to do business.

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.

I believe the University needs to become flexible in reducing unnecessary costs that are passed on to our students and increase fundraising efforts to help students manage their tuition costs. Adopting the region-based commonwealth campus system would enable the University to keep tuition affordable for our students by relying on the local campuses in each region to control tuition costs and fees which would be based on the local economic demand.

Tuition costs and fees for students can be reduced further by not allowing other University premium costs to be passed on to them.  This can be achieved by reviewing the budget for underperforming academic programs which are being funded. The resources and money from these academic programs can be shifted to flourishing academic programs to assist in offsetting operating expenses.

One of the responsibilities of this University to its students is to keep tuition accessible and affordable. I believe the University should consider increasing its efforts in fundraising for scholarships to assist students with their tuition cost and fees.

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

The University’s current land-grant mission of teaching, research, and public service has helped made it a world class institution since 1855. However, living in a world where change is the norm, I believe the university must encourage a diverse academic environment, invest in technology for a competitive edge in a global market, invest in people, and continue to grow by being a world leader in research.

To continue this academic recognition and gain even broader appeal, the University’s land-grant mission for the 21st century should focus on forward thinking ideals. Innovative thinking by our alumni, faculty and students will continue to build the Penn State brand and keep it relevant.  Sustainability is about focusing on the impact the University has on the lives its alumni, faculty, students and local community. We will need vision to continue lead and be at the forefront for the next great discovery of the 21st century. Penn State’s 21st century land-grant mission should be innovation, sustainability and vision.

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1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Anonymous  |  May 1, 2012 at 6:35 pm

    I think your answers addresses the issues at hand. However, looking at you bio I am confident that you’ll be able to get Penn State established again with rebuilding its reputation.i

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