Stephen M. Hladik, Ballot Position No. 12

Stephen M. Hladik ’89 Lib
Lawyer/Partner, Kerns Pearlstine Onorato Hladik
Harleysville, Pa.

Read Hladik’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?

Declining state appropriations are an unfortunate reality in these challenging economic times. Like any entity or agency that receives taxpayer monies, Penn State can best secure its financial future by being good stewards of the resources it currently receives and demonstrating that fact to state legislators and taxpayers.

Good stewardship requires that Penn State and the Board of Trustees conduct its business in an open and transparent manner. Full university compliance with Pennsylvania’s Right-To-Know Law would be a proactive and positive first step toward openness and transparency.

Penn State must also be committed to controlling costs. Students and alumni must live within their means, and it is only fair to expect Penn State to do the same. The Board of Trustees must demand justification for every line of the university budget from administrators on an annual basis. Programs that cannot demonstrate their efficiency and effectiveness must be held accountable, while those that do can be entrusted with additional resources.

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.

The accessibility of a Penn State education is a hallmark of our university. Unfortunately, compared with other state-affiliated institutions of higher learning, Penn State’s tuition is currently among the highest. This should be a top concern for the Board of Trustees. The implementation of greater accountability, openness and transparency referenced in my previous answer will be of great help in controlling costs and ensuring the affordability of a Penn State education. As I also mentioned in the previous answer, every area of the budget must be examined to see where cost savings may be achieved in order to stem the continued tuition increases that students have encountered. With maintaining internal fiscal responsibility, the Trustees must also implement new ways of obtaining increases in aid from the state and federal government.  Increased efficiencies through technology are vital to save costs as well.

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

Land-grant universities have played an important role in the history of our nation, and Penn State’s heritage as a land-grant institution is a cherished one. Before any decisions are made on the form Penn State is to take in the 21st century, a comprehensive, deliberative examination and process must be undertaken. This process should include students, alumni, faculty and administrators. Recognizing that Penn State is a state-affiliated university, we must acknowledge that the General Assembly and governor, and – by extension – the voters and taxpayers of Pennsylvania should and will also have a voice in determining the future of our school. A full, honest and frank conversation must be had before any decisions are made. Most importantly, the form Penn State is to take in the 21st century is not one to be determined by an individual trustee or solely by the Board of Trustees as a body.

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