Edward B. “Ted” Brown, Ballot Position No. 7
KETCH Consulting Inc.
State College, Pa.
Read Brown’s official bio and position statement here (PDF download).
1. What should Penn State be looking for in its next president?
University presidents are expected to be all things to all people, which would be great, but somewhat unrealistic. The next president of Penn State must be most things to most people. Among the most important attributes is being respectful and appreciative of the University’s traditions while not being afraid to change policies and programs that could benefit from change. Penn State will soon complete a $2 billion capital campaign. The next president will undoubtedly need to begin another campaign, which will require strong interpersonal skills and fund raising acumen. Penn State has several dozen programs ranked in the top 20 nationally; to continue this progress, the president must be able to lead the faculty and appreciate important academic values. Support of shared governance, attention to deferred maintenance and upgrading of facilities, and promotion of the integration of teaching, research, and service are examples of important values. Most critical is that the president truly values students, is enthusiastic about being around them, and desires to see them succeed. Penn State’s goal of being the top student-centered research university in America is still worthy. Our University faces a challenge as the Board of Trustees evolves in membership, and the new president will need to work with the board to define where governance begins and ends and where presidential leadership and management needs to be able to flourish. Even though my 45 year career is in business, I favor a new President with an Academic background to restore Faculty and Staff morale..
2. What changes or reforms should the Board of Trustees consider to help the university progress after the events of 2011 and 2012? Please explain why—or, if you don’t think reform is needed, please explain why not.
We need to focus on redefining board membership and structure to make the board smaller, eliminate the governor and his cabinet, and broaden its expertise. I favor a smaller Board of 24 members, keeping or increasing Alumni representation, eliminating the Governor and his cabinet members. In addition to the Business and Industry and Agriculture members, I favor adding members from disciplines such as Financial, Research, Human Resources, the Arts, and Crisis Management. Since one third of Penn State’s budget is Medicine, I favor a member from that discipline (certainly not the incumbent). I would like to see a nominating committee research candidates. Perhaps more important than size and structure is change. Term limits must apply to ALL BOT members. Every other Board, whether Alumni Council or College Alumni Boards, has a term limit of two consecutive terms, insuring a constant inflow of new blood and fresh ideas and involves an ever increasing base of Alumni Volunteer Leaders, donors, student mentors, and fundraisers. Term limits insure the Board reflects varied interests, skills and age groups that mirror what is happening in the University and our country.
I would stress more open communications from the BOT. If any alum or spokesperson brings up an issue, they deserve a response. To say the Board is open to comments, means nothing if Trustees don’t listen and never respond except to say “Your Time is UP.” Also, there should be fewer closed door meetings late at night or via phone. Transparency, despite promises, is non-existent.
3. 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?
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.