Stella M. Tsai, Ballot Position No. 30

Stella M. Tsai ’85 Lib
Partner, Archer and Greiner P.C.
Philadelphia, Pa.

Read Tsai’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?

Penn State offers an affordable and accessible world class education to approximately 50,000 undergraduate and graduate students each year. As a land-grant institution, Penn State was created to provide as a different type of higher education in areas such as  agriculture, science, and engineering (without excluding classical studies. Penn State has fulfilled its obligations to the Commonwealth and it would be in the best interests of the Commonwealth to reciprocate.

The steps we should take are fairly basic – as alumni and as an institution, we need to lobby our representatives, including the Governor, to fight the reductions to the state appropriations (which at this point constitute 14 percent of Penn State’s budget for General Funds) and remind the General Assembly and the public that education should always be a priority. The Commonwealth will most certainly lose any competitive advantage and the ability to attract business and generate wealth unless we invest in affordable education for our children, youth, and adults. We should join forces with other interest groups to combat those forces who cannot to acknowledge the benefits of affordable education. What industry or business can survive without an educated workforce in the 21st century?

Other steps to secure our financial future are in play, but could be emphasized – we need to redouble our efforts to grow the endowment and engage in grassroots capital campaign.  Another potential area for growth is the pool of international students, who can serve as ambassadors for Penn State.

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.

As stated in my response to the first question, we need to do a better job of explaining the return on education to the public and making sure that it is priority in this Commonwealth once again. We do need to hold the line on tuition – and by doing so, we will continue to remain competitive for high quality students.

The leadership of Penn State needs to restore the trust of the alumni and the public at large We need to make sure that the public fully comprehends the amount of work that Penn State is doing to restore its trust after the Sandusky scandal.

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

150 years later, the mission of the land-grant institution remains relevant today. Penn State should be proud of its origins as an innovative alternative to the liberal arts colleges and leverage its reputation and resources to help prepare the world for the challenges of the 21st century.  The world cannot continue its reliance on fossil fuels (including Marcellus shale) and we will need the best minds to secure the means of sustainable energy sources. If we sustain our mission, there will be worldwide interest and investment in the Penn State’s minds.

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