William F. Oldsey, Ballot Position No. 68

William F. Oldsey ’76 Lib
Educational Publishing Consultant
Basking Ridge, N.J.

Read Oldsey’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?

State budget deficits are real. Pennsylvania is not an exception. We need to come to grips with lower appropriations from Harrisburg as a fact of life and take steps to eliminate over reliance on state support. Having said this, we should maintain strong lobbying efforts and regularly remind state government of how crucial and far reaching PSU is as an economic powerhouse across the state.

We must turbo-charge our development/fundraising efforts. Building our endowment is the single most important focus for Penn State’s financial well-being in the future. We should add additional talent and resources to our already strong development function to drive even greater success. Focus on major gifts and large donors remains crucial, but we should perfect other methods through social media to invite grass roots contributions and participation from within and outside the alumni base.

Let’s increase the funding and support we get from major corporations, both private and public that benefit from Penn State’s world class teaching and academic reputation by hiring our graduates and utilizing our faculty and research methodologies. Budget responsibly throughout the university: Be vigilant with controllable expenses and eliminate waste wherever possible.

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.

Students and families cannot be repeatedly asked to shoulder the impact of declining appropriations and increasing costs through higher tuitions. We must constantly monitor our tuition against peer institutions and against cost of living/inflation metrics. We are a world class university, and our pricing should reflect that status, but we should never lose sight of the perceived value of a Penn State degree or competitive market conditions. We should increase our college readiness services for students to assist them in securing grants-in-aid, scholarships, and interest free support to help them offset tuition. Penn State should lead in the use of technology, online education methods, and digital learning platforms to reduce the cost of a traditional “bricks and mortar” education.

We should run our University in the same way a healthy corporation is run: constantly challenging administrators, staff, faculty, partners, and outside vendors to eliminate waste and reduce controllable expenses, without risking quality. Rule of thumb: if we are spending significantly on line-items or categories that do not directly improve educational outcomes or academic research and performance, STOP THAT SPENDING.

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

Despite deteriorating support from Harrisburg, I don’t support the notion of privatization of public universities. I believe Penn State’s Land Grant mission is alive and well and should be preserved if possible.    Here are some initiatives I believe we must act on to remain the finest land grant state university in the country in the 21st century.

  • Leverage our strengths in Information Technology, Engineering, Liberal Arts, and the Sciences so that we are well equipped to train and re-train a large percentage of the workforce, supporting employment and economic viability in Pennsylvania, and surrounding states.
  • Two and four year degrees in the Applied/Vocational areas will also be key in the 21st Century. Penn State should leverage its amazing commonwealth campus system and the Pennsylvania College of Technology, so that we play a leadership role in adult education and workforce readiness of the citizens of PA and the surrounding region.
  • Produce best in class well rounded graduates who possess 21st Century Skills: critical thinking, creative problem solving, ability to think innovatively, strong written and oral communication skills, ability to work effectively in teams, strong technology skills, and an understanding of the global economy and other cultures and languages.
  • Become the recognized leader in Outcomes-based education.  Recognize the strengths of a Penn State graduate by developing scientific, cutting edge methods for tracking our graduates’ skill sets, employability, earning power and professional success after receiving a Penn State degree.

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