O. Richard Bundy, Ballot Position No. 18
President and CEO
University of Vermont Foundation
South Burlington, Vt.
Read Bundy’s official bio and position statement here (PDF download).
1. What should Penn State be looking for in its next president?
I consider Penn State to be the premier Land Grant University in the nation, and the presidency of our institution will be a highly coveted position in the academy, even with our current challenges. But given the recent history at Penn State, the next president will have to be particularly strong in certain key areas.
The next president of Penn State must be a superb communicator – equally adept at enunciating key messages to widely different stakeholder audiences as s/he is a considerate and attentive listener.
The next president of Penn State must be deeply committed to transparency. He or she will lead much-needed institutional change during their tenure, and will need to have thick skin and broad shoulders to weather the criticism that will come with challenging the status quo. An individual skilled in change management will be critical.
Penn State would do well to search both inside and outside the academy for the most outstanding talent, but whatever background the next president brings, s/he must have an appreciation for — and commitment to — the role of faculty in University governance.
The next president of Penn State must have a vision for applying our Land Grant ideals of teaching, research, and outreach to a modern, global institution.
Finally, in an environment where public funding for higher education is rapidly decreasing and tuition is at record high levels, the next president of Penn State must be a successful fundraiser, capable of securing private support at the highest level to advance institutional priorities.
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.
Among the changes I have recommended for the board itself are the initiation of public comment sessions (instituted in September 2012), and the re-positioning of the university president and Governor as non-voting ex-officio members of the board. These are relatively easy fixes that represent best practices with respect to board governance. Longer term, I believe the Board of Trustees should be restructured with fewer members, and with a higher concentration of members elected by alumni.
Beyond structural reform of the board itself, I believe strongly that the Trustees should engage in a proactive conversation with the General Assembly about aligning Penn State with Pennsylvania’s Right to Know Laws, although only with specific exemptions for intellectual property developed by our faculty and personal information related to donors. This action would signal critical progress in the institution’s commitment to transparency and public accountability.
I also believe that the Board needs to take immediate and aggressive steps to reverse the seemingly inexorable increase in the cost of attending Penn State by capping tuition and budgeting for higher levels of student aid. Penn State is the most expensive public university in the nation, and offers one of the lowest financial aid packages for its students. The Board of Trustees must show greater leadership in this important issue for the institution.
Finally, the board must take steps within the budget process to ensure that Penn State’s faculty and staff are compensated at levels that are commensurate with our status as the nation’s premier Land Grant institution.
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?
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.