Thomas E. Kapelewski, Ballot Position No. 66

Thomas E. Kapelewski ’82 Eng
Production Engineering Manager, Kydex LLC
Bloomsburg, Pa.

Read Kapelewski’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 has three choices to successfully secure its financial future:

a.  Take the story to the Pennsylvania taxpayers that higher education is the most important building block of the future.  Residents can raise state morale and therefore convince our legislative body that we NEED our university to survive.  The governor and legislators will then review many of their surplus programs (hopefully, but easier said than done) that result in a poor use of taxpayer money; the money is there, it just needs to be properly allocated.  This may be a tall order for success.

b.  Take the fund raising to the alumni to provide a larger endowment for the university; an endowment however, that would need to be prudently spent on our customers, the students.  Before taking on this alternative, any alumni would need to see the true need vs. the income, and get beyond the most recent issues facing our university.

c.  Open the books of the university; scrutinize and analyze our spending ways.  Expenses cannot exceed   income.  We need to “buckle down” and truly evaluate university spending.  It’s a bureaucratic  world, that needs the reality check in budgeting similar to a small manufacturing company.  This may be our best alternative.

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.

President Obama, in his State of the Union speech in January, stated, “Let me put colleges and universities on notice:  If you can’t stop tuition from going up, the funding you get from taxpayers will go down”.  Penn State must bring their costs in line or forfeit federal grant and loan dollars.  There are in-state tuition programs across the country that are successful, how are they doing it?  Have we ventured out to benchmark other leading institutions?  A fact finding visit to the more successful colleges may lead us down the right path.  Tuition increases are required to balance a budget of expenses; are there excessive expenses that are not needed but a “must” to keep up with other institutions?  According to Ronald Ehrenberg, the Director of the Cornell Higher Education Research Institute, “ To look better than their competitors, the institutions wind up in an arms race of spending to improve facilities, faculty, students, research, and institutional technology”.  Are we driving up tuition to be the best university  by adding excessive spending?    Penn State needs to get back to the basics of business.  Keep the focus on resource allocation, increased efficiency, reduce costs, and avoid special interests. We must remember who our customers are, our  students…

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

“Land grant universities are institutions of higher education in the US designated by each state to receive the benefits of the Morrill Acts of 1862 and 1890.  This Act granted federally controlled land to the states to develop or sell to raise funds to establish and endow “land grant colleges”, for the purpose of teaching agriculture, science, and engineering”.  This act was first vetoed by our only Pennsylvania President, James Buchanan, but later approved in 1862.  Through this Act the Farmer’s High School of Pennsylvania became Pennsylvania State University.  We need to continue the mantra of the Morrill Act through education based in agriculture, the sciences, and engineering, with an eye towards solving the major problems that face our society today:  poverty, the energy crisis, cures for diseases, etc.  Penn State is a leader in the field of research and development across the globe; but we need to carry the research forward with cost always in mind.  The College of Engineering’s Learning Factory Program has been a cost effective and teaching based program that prepares our students for the 21st century to tackle the issues of today, and tomorrow.  We need to administer similar programs across all departments at the university level.

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