Question No. 3: Role of Alumni Trustee
How do you define the role of an alumni trustee, and how would that inform the way you would approach your term on the board?
1. Kathleen A. Pavelko ’75 Lib, ’79 MA Com
The primary obligation of a trustee is to serve the university’s mission of teaching, research and service. Persons with expertise in business, agriculture and government—along with experience as an alumni—bring valuable expertise to the board, not because they owe their allegiance to those they represent, but because their perspectives enrich the Board’s guidance of the University. Trustees who are alumni have received the tangible gift of a Penn State education along with the less tangible but no less powerful experience of being part of a Penn State community—of being a Penn Stater. An alumna/alumnus is a natural advocate for the students who follow, and for their families, who have made considerable sacrifices to make their education possible. It has been my great fortune to have experienced Penn State in more ways than most candidates for the board: as an alumna, a staff member, as an adjunct faculty member, as a wife of an emeritus faculty member, and as an active volunteer (advisory boards, Communications student panels, etc.) It would be my great honor to bring my alumna’s perspectives to the challenges of keeping Penn State one of our Commonwealth’s most treasured assets, and one of the world’s foremost public research universities.
2. Pratima Gatehouse ’96, ’10 MS Eng
An important component an Alumni Trustee’s leadership involves engaging current alumni and students to ensure that their interests are reflected and represented by the board. A Board that fosters ongoing dialogue among faculty, staff, students and alumni leads to a collaborative environment and ultimately to university-wide programs that benefit all these groups. For example, the University could leverage its enormous alumni pool and high academic standards to expand the paid-internship portion of the Paterno Fellow Program to the entire University. This will help ameliorate student debt, help recruit high achieving students and provide an intriguing engagement opportunity our alumni.
At its core, Penn State is a research and academic institution, with a land grant mission. But the manner in which the University engages its alumni has not reflected that. My experiences as a dual degree graduate, seven year University volunteer, committed donor, Beaver stadium suite owner, and Asian female make me uniquely qualified to resolve the disconnect I have seen. The perspective that I would bring is a broad, forward-thinking view with ideas and solutions. My connections with alumni and students at multiple campuses, colleges, interest groups and chapters will allow me to continue to develop new and innovative ideas in the future.
3. Eugene Bella ’63 Eng
The Board is responsible for the governing of the University including determination of the goals of PSU, approval of budgets, evaluation of the President, and numerous other responsibilities. As a Trustee, my decisions will be based on the best interest of the PSU students, faculty, administration, alumni, and community. Whether you are an alumni trustee, a business/industry trustee, or elected or appointed from another group, the overall best interest of PSU should be foremost. However, as an alumni trustee, I have an obligation to understand how our alumni would want me to act when critical decisions have to be made. I will approach my term by taking all of the above into consideration but I will personally commit to increase communications and have alumni involved in Board decisions. In this way, our alumni would feel ownership with the decisions that greatly affect PSU. In addition to duties of governing, I will always have in my mind what actions the Board, in conjunction with the President, can take to restore our reputation as a great University. My work and personal experience give me the skills in leadership, communications, interactions, teamwork, company assessments, personal conflict, listening, and analysis of situations which I will use in solving a variety of issues. Therefore, I consider myself a credible candidate that will improve the performance of the Board. For more information on my candidacy, please visit my website at https://sites.google.com/site/bellapsu or my Facebook page under Eugene J Bella.
4. Paul V. Suhey ’79 Lib
Alumni trustees, just like all trustees, are stewards of the university. It is our responsibility to safeguard the interests and priorities of alumni, students, and faculty—and the welfare of the entire university community. I believe that a board, including the Penn State BOT, should be focused on strategic planning and oversight and the administration should be tasked with the day-to-day operation of the university. Someone once used the expression “noses in, hands out,” when referring to a board. I think that philosophy is healthy and right, and I believe organizations run most efficiently that way. That dynamic is what we should be striving for at Penn State. I have always considered it an honor to represent the largest alumni association in the world. I do not take this responsibility lightly. I have always and will continue to hear and listen to alumni sentiment. At the same time, however, I will not be afraid to make a difficult or unpopular decision I feel is in the best interest of the entire university. Contrary to recent criticism, we as a board deliberate, discuss, and debate many issues. Once a vote has been taken on an issue, however, I believe it is necessary to fully support that decision. To use a football metaphor, once a play is called, run it to the best of your ability.
5. Thomas A. Conley ’01 Eng
The role of an alumni trustee is in the name. It means that elected trustees listen to their alumni constituents, and take their views into consideration, when formulating their own opinions on which to vote and act. It’s a serious responsibility, especially with our critical need to solidify and promote ourselves as a top university worldwide. It’s also a role I will be honored to accept. I am one of the younger candidates, which lends additional value to my election and service. My time as a student leader is relatively fresh. I realistically know the demands on new and upcoming graduates in terms of starting our careers and improving our communities once we leave the gates of Old Main. Building on the need for transparency for the Board and across the University, I plan to make myself accessible as a trustee. I will have an online presence that serves as an open line of communication, where alumni can complete surveys and write emails to provide feedback and express concerns regarding critical issues. There’s no doubt that alumni views are widely diverse, but’s it’s essential that I hear them to guide me as a trustee. I also plan to reinforce the Alumni Association’s “Ideas for Action”—reminding alumni that they do not need to serve on the Board to make a difference. As a trustee, I will help alumni learn ways they can volunteer, advocate and give—as as we all work to rise up Penn State once again.
6. John W. Diercks ’63, ’67 MS, ’75 PhD EMS
The number one role of a trustee is strategic oversight of the University. This should be the role of a trustee elected by the alumni as well as society-elected and appointed trustees. To be an effective trustee, you have to think about where the University should be heading in the next three to five years. I see the highest goal of the University, and thus my actions on the Board, directed to restoring the public reputation of Penn State as an outstanding teaching and research university to what it was prior to the Sandusky scandal. For me this would require active involvement in committees responsible for University finances, academics, and public outreach. My participation would be to keep tuition increases at or below the rate of inflation, pay competitive salaries for faculty and staff, ensure high admission standards are maintained for incoming students, and maintain high credit ratings. A major failure of incumbents on the present Board was the handling of the firing of Coach Paterno and acceptance of the Freeh Report and NCAA sanctions without a fight. This has cost the University dearly. I would be outspoken in fighting for repeal of the sanctions and repairing the reputation of a great coach. A single voice speaking for the entire board is the way this should be accomplished. If elected, I would help build consensus on the Board to fight back and to keep alumni informed of Board actions. This would help restore Board credibility with distrusting alumni.
7. Edward B. “Ted” Brown III ’68 Sci
The current Board of Trustees has been accused of ignoring the sentiments of tens of thousands of alumni who care deeply about Penn State. I believe this to be a fair criticism. The board has made decisions that have deeply divided our loyal alumni and angered many of them. All trustees should listen to all constituent groups: faculty, staff, students, parents, alumni, donors, legislators, and others. But alumni trustees have a special responsibility to represent and reflect the alumni. More than a half million living alumni are forever attached to this University, and they deserve to be heard and respected. The key phrase is SHARED GOVERNANCE. That means shared with students, Faculty, Staff, and the Board of Trustees. The Faculty Senate is critical. The Board needs to work closely with the President to define where governance begins and ends and where presidential leadership and management need to be able to flourish. We will soon (relatively) have a new President for the first time in a long time. I believe that the Board has an exceptional responsibility in supporting that new President. We must have a vision of the future and help keep Penn State on the right track, but not be afraid to make changes. The Board’s job is to guide not manage.
8. Rudolph K. Glocker ’91, 93 MA Lib
Alumni Trustees need to play three roles on the Board of Trustees. First, they need to represent the long-term view of Penn State. Secondly, they need to be a voice for alumni. Thirdly, they need to educate their fellow Trustees on how Board decisions affect alumni. Penn State Alums are Penn Staters for life. Once you get your degree, you are a graduate—and that will never change. Alumni Trustees need to think about Board decisions with a 50-year view. How will these decisions affect Penn State over the next 10, 20, 50 years as opposed to the next 1-3 years? Alumni Trustees are the long-term guardians of the values, principles and standards of what it means to be a Penn State graduate. Alumni Trustees are advocates for alums. Penn State is a great University with an outstanding alumni base. The Alumni Trustees need to push matters that are relevant and important to Penn State Alums. Be their voice on the Board, raise their concerns and help to solve their issues. Finally, the Alumni Trustees need to educate other Trustees on how Board decisions will affect alums. Do these decisions augment or decrease the statue of being a Penn State graduate? How can potential changes/decisions be modified to make sure the alumni concerns are addressed or mitigated? In summary, the Alumni Trustees need to focus on the long term implications of decisions, advocate for their fellow alums and educate the Board on how decisions affect alums.
9. Christopher J. Bartnik ’91, ’96 MBA Bus
In my opinion, events of 2011 and 2012 have changed roles of the Trustees. Of course, the University Charter for Trustees defines the role of the members, and the Charter must form the foundation for actions of each Trustee. This includes key responsibilities like approving a Budget, selecting the University President, and acting in the best interest of Penn State. However, given current circumstances, I believe that Trustees have to be more open in their actions on behalf of the University and more available to constituents. Should the University be made subject to the “right to know laws”, transparency would be improved. Similarly, I believe Trustees should push for adherence to sunshine laws and if necessary, err on the side of openness. Finally, Board members need to stand up for Penn State and what it represents. The dialogue of the last 18 months has been owned by forces outside of our University. The Board needs to take back that dialogue so the truth about Penn State and what we stand for is once again something that makes us all Penn State Proud.
10. Vincent J. Tedesco ’64 Bus
In the current board configuration, the alumni trustees have several very important roles, which the current board members seem to have lost sight of as they went about their duties. First, they have seemed to forget that they are there to ensure that all members of the board understand that Penn State exists to provide a first rate, yet affordable education to the children of the hard working families in the state. The constantly increasing tuition costs and the spending of millions of dollars for a florid report that then cost the university $60 million, not to speak of more millions for poor public relations advice all point to a loss of understanding of that role. Next, the alumni members have a responsibility to ensure the good name of our university is not allowed to be dragged through the mud without a full and complete understanding of all the facts pertaining to the matter. The current members don’t seem to understand that every action taken by the board should be open to the people of the state and the alumni that support the university. All members of the board are responsible for efficiently managing the university, but alumni members have a special role as outlined above.
11. William J. Cluck ’82 Lib
Alumni Trustees have a particular responsibility to keep Penn State strong for future students. I have observed a reluctance of Trustees to question University officials at committee meetings and Board meetings. As you all know from the incident with Trustee Ken Frazier at the last Board committee meeting in Hershey, I am not afraid to ask hard questions and follow up. Representing the alumni accurately means staying in close contact and being available. As an elected alumni trustee, I would provide the ability for them to communicate with me and to that end, I would rely upon social media to provide information and obtain feedback. Ideally, it would be nice to schedule town hall type meetings throughout the east coast as time, expense and interest dictate. I promise my fellow alumni that I see this position as being about us, not just about me. I would bring my analytical abilities, strong communication skills, ability to work with others, and a passion for my alma mater. All Trustees have a fiduciary duty to act in the best interests of the University and comply with expectations of membership in the standing orders. If elected, I would consider it part of this obligation to work toward all further reforms necessary for this Board to meet the high expectations alumni rightly have for their University.
12. Stephanie Nolan Deviney ’97 JD Law
First and foremost, all trustees, regardless of how we came to the Board, owe a fiduciary obligation to the University as a whole. Throughout my term, every decision I have made has been in fulfillment of this duty. Trustees must not only attend all meetings (with limited exceptions), but must also adequately prepare for all meetings. Second, as a trustee, it is important to build relationships—with the President, administration, faculty, staff, students, alumni, and fellow trustees. Trustees are given ample opportunities to build these relationships through interaction with these constituents at our regularly scheduled meetings. By engaging in relationship building, we inevitably learn more about the university and ways we can have a positive impact on Penn State. Third, we must communicate with others. Trustees fulfill this obligation in their own way. For me, I engaged in activities at the Commonwealth Campuses and alumni association near my home, including, but not limited to, attending a send-off picnic for new students, supporting fund raising efforts, celebrating the holidays, and serving as a trustee representative for graduation. I have also worked to increase communications with the media and Commonwealth Campuses. Visit me at http://www.trustee-deviney-penn-state.com to learn more. Lastly, trustees must take advantage of available resources. I regularly read The Chronicle of Higher Education, the magazine Trusteeship, and participate in complementary webinars hosted by the Association of Governing Boards to keep up to date with the latest trends in higher education and the role that trustees play at their university.
13. John M. Mason Jr. ’72 Hbg
It is imperative that a university develops and maintains excellent relationships with its alumni, as they routinely serve as stewards for various university initiatives. Alumni trustees help ensure the strength of the connection between alums and their alma mater. As an alumni trustee, I will thoughtfully consider issues that are before the board, and actively seek input from alumni. After engaging with alumni, my decisions will always be in the best long-term interest of Penn State. Alumni trustees have the specific responsibility to reach out and listen to alumni views in the broadest sense. I would solicit input through personal discussions, traditional communication options, and social media networks. As this role requires representing the views of all PSU alums, I would also work with regional alumni association chapters to engage in direct discussions with their members. It is essential that trustees perform their duties by balancing and aligning differing, competing and divergent interests of various individuals and organizations. As such, all trustees should participate by seeking consensus and considering the long horizon effects/implications of their decisions. Board members must understand and appreciate the differences between governing and managing to ensure effectiveness and efficiency in resolving matters entrusted to the Board.
14. Robert J. Bowsher ’86 Bus
Through this year’s election, we alumni will entrust one-third of our Board of Trustees representation to three individuals. We need these people to put Penn State’s best interests ahead of their personal agendas, a prioritization that too many current trustees are unable and/or unwilling to make. If elected, I will strive to accomplish what Coach Joe Paterno did throughout his over-60-year career: make Penn State a better place. I’m not running to launch a political career, promote a business, scratch my friends’ backs with Penn State money, or fly around on the university president’s jet. I’m running to ensure students and young alumni benefit as much from their Penn State educations as so many of us have from our Penn State degrees. Restoring our beloved alma mater’s good name and reputation will be a struggle. We need as many people as possible to fight this good fight, so I’ll always be open to hearing from fellow alumni and anyone else who cares deeply for Penn State. Some people are big talkers. I’m a big listener. Instead of one big mouth, I have two big ears that people chew on all the time. I’ve been on successful teams and I know they work best when the team members spend the majority of their time listening to one another. Fellow alumni, let’s keep the faith and let’s join together to form a successful team. Let’s make Penn State a better place.
15. Doreen Ulichney Schivley ’78 Edu
The role of an alumni trustee is to be an extension and voice of this stakeholder group. The trustee must be an active listener and communicator for this base and be accountable as well. The information/data from alumni must be relayed to the BOT Committee for Outreach, Development, and Community Relations. In some circumstances, it may have to go to one of the other committees. I am not a user of social media so phone calls and letters as well as e-mail would be my preferred method of communication. Discussion threads is another preferred method of communication. I also think focus groups and surveys are an excellent source of information for alumni trustees to engage in, analyze, and act upon. The alumni council needs to continue to be an extension of the alumni-elected trustees and perhaps even be more involved. The council can take on an advisory role.
16. J. Andrew Weidman ’78 Bus
I would define the role of an alumni trustee as those people most responsible for protecting our image and our brand. The reason: our fellow Penn Staters, as well as future graduates, are relying on us to do so. The Alumni members of the board should be extremely open with alumni, soliciting their input in addition to keeping them informed regarding Board decisions. I believe the current BOT unfortunately is largely a collection of political appointees, and appears to behave more like an Advisory Board than a Governing Board. People need to take this job seriously. I feel the BOT has a greater responsibility to its alumni than it has exhibited over the past couple of years. As mentioned above, I believe it is critical to have Alumni representation on the Executive Committee. Alumni Trustees need to embrace the importance of our university’s sports teams in fostering school spirit. Although it’s difficult for some people to admit, PSU football had a lot to do with building our great University brand. It continues to be the glue that bonds us together, years after our graduation. We take great pride not only in the success of our sports teams, but in the way they represent Penn State—“Success with Honor” is so much more than a slogan—it defines PSU!
17. Ben J. Novak ’65 Lib, ’99 PhD IDF
The role of an alumni Trustee is to make sure that the institution is still recognizable to its alumni long after they graduate. This means assuring that the same great educational experience is still there for future generations of students. It also means keeping the spirit of Penn State alive and vibrant. The alumni Trustees must provide to the other members of the Board an understanding of the continuity of the institution, and faith in the Penn State spirit. The alumni are the bond and assurance that the same great Penn State spirit, which took us from the Farmers High School to the great research and teaching University of today, will continue to guide the institution. The members who were on the Board of Trustees in 2011 have violated that trust. They have sowed dissension and mistrust. They have divided us and embarrassed us. It must be the duty of alumni Trustees elected since 2012 to change the Board to reflect genuine Penn State spirit.
18. O. Richard Bundy III ’93, ’96 MA Lib
Trustees elected by Penn State alumni represent one of the University’s largest stakeholder audiences. Particularly in the highly charged current environment, alumni are demanding that Trustees they elect represent them as a distinct special interest. I understand and respect that if elected, I will serve a constituency that expects regular communication and proactive efforts on my part to drive ongoing, meaningful reform that leads to better governance.
That said, at the highest level I believe that Trustees – regardless of how they come to serve on the board – should not represent any specific constituency. Rather, Trustees must make informed decisions that they believe to be in the best interest of the entire Penn State community. A Trustee elected by the alumni must be advocates for students and champions of access, affordability, and an exceptional student experience. They must be advocates for the faculty who provide such a great classroom and research experiences on our campuses. They must be advocates for the staff who, through their daily activities, make the campus work. They must be advocates of the institution in the General Assembly, with our donors, and with our corporate partners.
In the end, my expectation for Trustees elected by alumni is the same expectation I have for anyone elected or appointed to the board – that they serve with honor, transparency, professionalism, the highest personal ethics, and always with the best interest of the institution at heart. This is how I am committed to lead if alumni elect me to the board.
19. Matthew A. Bird ’80 Eng
A trustee may be defined as a person who is trusted to make decisions in the beneficiary’s best interests. An alumni trustee is not an appointed position but one elected by fellow alumni. As such I believe the role of an alumni trustee is one of great responsibility. It is a position that requires one to stay in touch with the pulse of the alumni. If elected, I will look for opportunities to solicit feedback from the alumni during my term. The 525,000 living alumni of Penn State deserve a voice on the board that will treat them with the respect they deserve. As a husband, father and brother to my own Penn State alums, I will be attuned to the impact our actions may have on the entire Alumni. Many of us feel that the actions of the Board in the past 16 months were done without proper consideration of those who made this University the great institution it is. We Are the Alumni ! As a trustee I will work diligently to make sure that we are heard and that the Board acts in the best interest of the University and its Alumni.
20. Frederik O. Riefkohl ’87 Bus
The role of the trustee is rapidly changing across all institutions of higher learning. Surveys show there is an increasing divergence between what the boards believe the right thing for the university is, and what its stakeholders want and need from its services and products. There appears to be growing divergence, at Penn State in particular, between the board and its stakeholders in topics such as: short term vs long term priorities; the increasing costs of tuition; the perceived conflict between athletics and academics; the amount of communication and inclusion with its stakeholders; and the role of the board itself. I truly believe the role of a trustee, like on other boards, is to provide long term planning for the institution served and to help guide the institution through challenges into a stated vision of the future. This vision needs to be communicated, needs to be inclusive and it needs to be realistic. I believe the role of a trustee is to oversee the implementation of that vision. To help guide the Plan-Do-Check-Adjust (PDCA):
1. To plan for best case and worst case scenarios.
2. To guide in the implementation of those strategies.
3. To monitor the success or failure of those strategies.
4. And to change course as required.
The role of the Alumni trustee is to represent those stakeholders that elected them and, like all other trustees, represent the best interests of the university as a whole (all stakeholders).
21. Mark S. Connolly ’84 PhD Sci
An alumni trustee has a fiduciary responsibility to govern the university. Leaders (e.g. the President, Provost, etc.) are appointed to run the daily affairs of the University. They have the responsibility to keep the Board informed. But the Board has the ultimate authority in oversight of these leaders and the primary responsibility to set the strategic direction of the University. The BoT should initiate public forums to engage the several University constituent groups in an open and honest two-way dialog. That is, it should not operate in a vacuum. It should engage PA state government leaders to find ways to reduce outrageous tuition costs that place the University at the very top of U.S. public universities. Penn State is simply becoming unaffordable for many in-state students. And the BoT needs to engage the Federal government and industry to keep the research programs at Penn State thriving and growing. I have spent a career in Science & Technology—both as a researcher and as a technical leader. My experience in working across disciplines, different levels of government and more recently intellectual property protection will be highly additive to the Board of our very strong research university.
22. Barbara L. Doran ’75 Lib
A board should have a diverse group of trustees who bring the requisite skills and experience for the best input, insights and perspectives for the development and advancement of the mission, priorities and goals of the institution; and to discuss and work through the governance agenda from oversight, to ensuring the best levels of leadership and management process for the institution, to using resources wisely. Each trustee should be a high performing member who actively participates in rational, informed deliberations by considering reliable information, thinking critically, asking good questions and respecting diverse points of view, while respecting the strengths, values and traditions of the university. An alumni trustee has an extra responsibility, and that is to make sure that the collective and individual voices and concerns of the hundreds of thousands of loyal and proud Penn State alumni, who are deeply concerned with the leadership of our university, are heard and effectively represented. I bring a long background in leadership positions in business and nonprofit governance to the table, and also deep experience as a Penn State and national level athlete. I am a lifelong learner who believes our young students are our greatest resources for the future of our country, and bringing them the best education at affordable costs must be our #1 priority. This is both a personal and professional commitment to bring to bear my experience, background and drive to ensure the best governance possible for this special place called Penn State.
23. Darlene R. Baker ’80 Sci
Did not respond.
24. Robert J. Hooper ’79 H&HD
First, I would take some issue with the phrasing of the question. We are trustees elected BY the alumni, but once ELECTED, we become obliged to represent and execute the fiduciary obligation placed upon the Board of Trustees as a whole. We are alumni who are elected as trustees but our role is not to exclusively represent the interest of the alumni. Our obligation is to do what is RIGHT FOR PENN STATE. I am elected to a board that manages a $3.6 Billion retirement fund, by the participants. However, once elected, my fiduciary obligation is to the fund AND its members—often a fine line to walk. That said, I feel our obligation is to distribute information on the pressing issues before the board, solicit input from the alumni on possible solutions to problems since our alumni are such a significant resource, and to act in the best interest of the University. Acting in that interest does not in any way preclude heavily considering or advancing the perspective of the alumni. Justification for positions must be maintained. I am currently retired and have the time to devote to this endeavor with no distraction. I would maintain a web and social media presence that would keep alumni informed and offer a central location for discussion of issues before the board. I would be vocal in the press BEFORE Board meetings hoping to influence other trustees decisions. I would work collaboratively with ALL trustees to try to build consensus on issues.
25. Amy L. Williams ’80 H&HD
Intellect Integrity Heart The alumni Trustee, any Trustee for that matter, has been entrusted with the care, management and growth of our beloved University. It should not be treated merely as a job, but as a labor of love.
INTELLECT: A Trustee will need to bring their intellect and all that means. This includes, but is not limited to, their intelligence, experiences, skill sets and different perspectives.
INTEGRITY: Doing what is right and speaking up, no matter how difficult or uncomfortable. Being independent of mind, and not being influenced by any group. Having humility. Recognizing that there are many perspectives and not to let ones ego get in the way of listening to others and doing what is best, and right for the University.
HEART: PENN STATE is not just a place, our beloved alma mater is us! We need to cherish, nurture and protect it fiercely! A Trustee must keep the students at the heart of every decision. Penn State is a Land Grant University… and at its core are the students. Past and present. Before every decision a trustee must check their intellect, integrity and heart to ensure their choices are in the best interest of the students and the University overall and not about themselves.
26. Robert N. Grimes ’80 H&HD
Clearly the way that the Board of Trustees interacts with all of the various factions inside and outside of the University is key. If there is major change that is needed it will be in the area of transparency. In this world of social media and information moving at light-speed, the Board of Trustees also needs to be able to put out the right messages and information at the right time, while being seen as an organization that is listening to their constituents. Looking back over the past two years of challenges to both Penn State and the Board of Trustees, the handling of the Sandusky Scandal is a lesson in what not to do going forward. The perception is that the Board of Trustees, in an effort to placate the public and media opinions, seemed to take actions that were not consistent with a complete review and analysis of a very critical situation. Reform is needed on the Board. This reform is needed on how Board members are elected and appointed along with a realignment of the members allocated to interest groups needs to be reviewed. Reconsideration needs to be given on how the Board votes and also how crisis situations are handled in the future. Along with this the authority of the University Officials needs to be reviewed and changes made when decisions are made that impact the future of the University.
27. Jeffrey N. Goldsmith ’82 H&HD
I see my role on the board to be a strong advocate for promoting the mission of the University; providing a quality education that is financially accessible to the average Pennsylvania family. The role of the Board in governing PSU should be to set policy and guidelines. It has the responsibility to oversee but not micromanage the administration. Let me be more specific. It is not the role of the Board to be in the President’s office on a daily basis, directing how the day to day operations of the University are run. However, when an issue comes up that will clearly have an impact on the University, the Board should not wait to be “informed” by the administration. I will use the Sandusky scandal as an example. Had I been a member of the Board, after reading the Patriot News article on March 31, I would have immediately called the Board Chair and asked him when he was meeting with the President. Not having a plan of action to deal with major issues of this nature is a major dereliction of responsibility. For more information on my views, feel free to visit my Facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/JeffreyNGoldsmithForPennStateTrustee @jgold312 on twitter – email@example.com I welcome your questions and look forward to serving you on the Board of Trustees…#27 on your ballot!
28. David K. Mullaly ’69, ’72 MA Lib
Under normal circumstances, an alumni trustee would be expected to function as a trustee who happens to have been elected by fellow alumni. He or she would fulfill all fiduciary duties, and contribute to the board’s deliberations. However, the events over the past two years have fundamentally changed the situation. Certainly, the “public comment” portions of recent BOT meetings have highlighted a huge chasm separating a great many alumni from the perspectives of most current board members. My conversations since last August with several hundred alumni confirm that chasm. Anger, distrust, and contempt are the most common alumni reactions to the board members who failed to respond to an impending scandal, failed to defend the university when the media was framing it as the “Penn State scandal,” failed to respond when the Freeh investigation transformed its theories into certainties, and failed to deal effectively with the NCAA challenge. Despite these failures, the sitting board has refused to acknowledge its mistakes. As there are very few current trustees who share the views of most alumni, I would focus my efforts in two areas. First, I would work to establish an alumni trustee caucus, which would push to reform the BOT and begin as a group to represent the almost 600,000 alumni. Second, I would encourage other trustees to help us find common ground. There are surely reasonable people on the BOT, and bridge building will be an absolute necessity.
29. Robert P. McKinnon ’90 Com
An alumni trustee has a special role on our Board. Although they are small in number, they represent the largest single constituency to which the University and the Board are beholden. And because they are elected by their peers, I believe they have a duty to act as their eyes, ears and voice within the Board of Trustees. If given the honor of representing my fellow alumni, my own approach would directly reflect this. As your… Eyes: I want you to see what I’m seeing. I believe in increasing the openness and transparency with which we operate. A more informed and engaged alumni base is a better one. In addition, I also want to make sure we are looking at these issues through the lens of “How will this affect our current and future alumni?” Ears: I want to hear what you think about the issues impacting our University. We need active listeners on our board, who are tuned into the issues, open to differing perspectives and always listening out for what’s in the best interest of our University and alumni Voice: Finally, our alumni need more advocates on our Board, whose voice brings weight, substance and value to all ongoing debates. We don’t need board members who either quietly go along to get along or those that confuse raising their voice with raising good points. We need skilled communicators who can move people to do the right thing for our alumni, students and the entire Penn State community.
30. Ted J. Sebastianelli ’69 Bus
As a local retiree, I have the advantage of being able to approach my first term with a wide open calendar and exceptional access to all, perhaps I should say much, that is Penn State. In this age of skyrocketing technology, there’s still nothing like being able to sit across the desk of a subject matter expert to discuss a particular issue. More than ever, board members must devote the time and attention to their fiduciary duties while being held fully accountable for their decisions and actions. In short, trustees must be fully engaged in the business of Penn State. The days of “country club” trustees must come to an end. We all should be concerned about the rising cost of education. Student debt has soared past a trillion dollars, far surpassing credit card debt. The University Park campus is the priciest four-year public university in the country. Penn State also has the highest student-loan default rate in the Big Ten. The default rate among Penn Staters was double the Big Ten average. Meanwhile, the average student-loan debt for Penn State graduates was nearly $7,000 more than the Big Ten average, more than $30,000 overall. We must look at options for adjusting the tuition and fee structure and develop better financial initiatives for students. We must also pick apart our practices and spending with a determination to keep costs within reach of every qualified student. If we don’t, we stand the risk of pricing ourselves out of the market.
31. Christopher R. Owens ’06 IST
The Board consists of 32 individuals, most of whom are not elected. These include members appointed by the Governor of PA, members selected by Agricultural Societies, as well as members selected by a questionable Business & Industry (B&I) process. The only elected members of the Board are the alumni representatives. When I attended the PA Senate hearing on Penn State Board reform in March 2013, former Trustee Robert Horst (1992-1995) detailed how B&I Trustees form a corrupt power bloc on the Board who are major benefactors from the University. We have all witnessed this group operate since 2011 and it is clear the B&I Board members need to be kept in check. My role as an Alumni Trustee would be to represent the voice of the alumni, act as a faithful steward of the University, and repair the damage caused by these Trustees. Joe Paterno always said, “If you take care of the little things, the big things will take care of themselves.” The B&I Trustees’ mantra has been to pay thousands of dollars for outside help on topics such as Board Governance Reform while trying to tackle the “big things.” In doing so, they completely ignored readily available help from within the confines of the Smeal College of Business who are world experts on executive governance. As an elected Alumni Trustee, I would address issues that were in my control with help from within the Penn State community.
32. Gregory A. Slachta ’66 Sci
First, let me say it is the role of a trustee. The question assigns a separate status to those trustees elected by the alumni versus those nominated by the Board itself. There should not be such a dichotomy. The role of any trustee is to support the Mission Statement of The Pennsylvania State University. Each trustee has the responsibility to further the university’s academics, research and yes, athletics. Actions that support these facets of Penn State enhance the degree and contribute to the “Penn State Proud” that our alumni, faculty and students value. The responsibility goes beyond this. Each Trustee is must take actions that acknowledge the belief that our core value is “Success with Honor” and in the process remember what our alma mater says: “may no act of ours bring shame.” All trustees are responsible to the alumni, and I would approach my term to support actions that demonstrate truth, fairness, and honor in dealing with our past, present, and future endeavors. I will not support “Move On” but “Move Forward” with complete transparency of board actions. I believe our governance and rules of the board need continued review and change to accomplish the transparency I would seek. I will support and practice civility on the board. I will challenge arrogance and lack of integrity on the board. After all, We Are!
33. Charles R. Mazzitti ’80 Lib
More than any other Trustee group, Alumni Trustees should have the best interests of the University and its students as their primary focus. Trustee membership for alumni must be based on gratitude and service to Penn State, not ego or possible personal reward. Alumni Trustees must be constant ambassadors for Penn State—with the Governor, the legislature, the business community, the local community, the faculty, alumni and students. They should engage everyone at all levels to promote the University, not simply attend meetings and go home. The alumni trustees should push for openness, honesty, integrity and clarity in all board operations, including the election of member Trustees from other representative groups. Penn State is not just a large corporation, and its growth and prosperity come from many different venues and vested parties. I will work to return Penn State to its mission, “the education of youth” of Pennsylvania and the world. Our Commonwealth Campuses offer excellent, local educational opportunities for our citizens. As a trustee, I will continue my work to nurture them and the communities they serve. Education that is not affordable is also not attainable. Saddling our graduates with massive student debt cripples not only their future, but the future of our economy and country. I will push for increased operational efficiency where it may be found; innovative approaches to education that lower cost but maintain or improve quality; and build relationships that produce increased state appropriations from committed legislators. One seat. Thousands of voices. For the Future.
34. Gregory S. “Sandy” Sanderson ’00 Eng
It is my opinion that the role of the entire Board of Trustees is to serve as a collection of industry leaders who bring to the table a unique perspective on the direction in which the University should be run. What all of the members of the Board have in common is a deep desire to see the University grow and succeed in all aspects, all while sharing a sense of duty to “give back” to the University by putting their expertise and skill sets on loan to Penn State in order to steer the University towards that success. The benefit of having so many different leaders from varying backgrounds and industries is that you end up with a collection of different ideas and thought processes in the hopes of being able to make decisions with all points of view being accounted for. It should be the goal of every Board Member (and certainly will be for me) to communicate their perspective and opinions of every task put in front of the Board, and conversely to digest the opinions of our fellow Board Members with an open mind so that we can formulate decisions backed with as much information as possible for the betterment of Penn State.
35. Robert C. Jubelirer ’59 Lib, ’62 JD Law
The role of an alumni trustee comes down to one word: Ambassador. My entire career has been about bringing people with differing positions together for results, and regrouping and forging ahead after suffering setbacks. I will actively engage with our alumni, students, concerned Penn Staters, supporters and other “stakeholders” who care deeply about the welfare of our university. Having served in the PA Legislature taught me the importance and value of constituent service. Our Penn State family would be my “constituents.” I promise that I will not take this awesome responsibility for granted. Living and working in Centre County and the area will provide me the opportunity to meet face-to-face with concerned Penn Staters regularly. And through multiple communications channels, including a regular e-newsletter and interactive website, I will be accessible. Being visible is a critical priority of mine.
36. William F. Oldsey ’76 Lib
Despite proclamations of openness and transparency, the current Board has often shown itself to be insular and non-responsive to its stakeholders.
According to a recent Alumni Association survey, fewer than one in five alumni have confidence in the Board’s decision making. We need elected Trustees who are actively engaged in communicating with and learning from alumni, faculty, staff, and students at University Park, at our Commonwealth Campuses, and around the country.
This level of engagement cannot be accomplished in six Board meetings a year. I will serve as a full-time Trustee, working every day to help build a better, stronger, more united University community.
I understand that the only way for us to move forward effectively is to build on the shared pride of our deeply-rooted traditions. I am staunchly committed to honoring Joe Paterno and his 61 years of unparalleled contributions and dedicated service to Penn State.
I firmly believe that Penn State’s best days lie ahead of us and that by working together, we will continue to accomplish great things.
I am proud to have been endorsed by Trustee Anthony Lubrano and by the membership of Penn Staters for Responsible Stewardship (PS4RS).
I consider election as your Trustee and representative a great honor and a sacred responsibility, and I will work every day to earn your trust, confidence and respect.
37. Patrick J. Howley ’12 H&HD
Due to an email error, Mr. Howley did not receive the invitation to submit responses. We’ll post the response as soon as we receive it.
38. Ryan M. Bagwell ’02 A&A/Com
A trustee’s primary role is to be a watchdog for the university. He or she must be curious, inquisitive, and unafraid to demand answers and records from people who are loathe to give them. But the alumni trustee has an additional role – to represent the interests of the electorate. If elected, I pledge to be a conduit for the demands of my constituents, vigorously pursuing the reforms that they have wanted for 16 months. I will reach out to trustees who have thus far resisted change, and seek out ways to build bridges so that both sides can achieve our goals. But most importantly, I will diligently provide oversight that was nonexistent in previous years, so that what happened to Penn State in 2011 will never happen again.
39. Scott T. Kimler ’83 MS EMS
Other than the difference in the manner in which they become members of the board, all trustees should be equal in responsibility and influence. Every trustee should place the best interests of Penn State above their own interests. My focus and work for the past year and a half has been to improve Penn State.
Now is the time for change. The Penn State board doesn’t need another lawyer, high-powered executive, or politician. It needs trustees with diverse backgrounds; trustees with time to devote to the job, a demonstrated commitment of service to the University, a fresh perspective, new ideas and a willingness to challenge the status quo.
Three words describe how I will approach my seat: innovate, communicate, and collaborate.
I didn’t wait for a seat on the board to start making a positive impact and my contributions are not limited to governance reform. I am an analytical person who thinks outside of the box. As a web-developer and social media adviser with years of tele-commuting experience, I will usher in a new era of trustee communication. I will fire on all social media channels, communicating with alumni and keeping them informed on governance matters. As a firefighter, I know that teamwork and collaboration is paramount and it is something we practice daily. Having established many solid working relationships within the Penn State community, I look forward to taking the next step and working directly on the board.
Scott Kimler: “Last on the ballot, first for Penn State.”