Daniel N. Cocco, Ballot Position No. 3

CoccoDaniel N. Cocco ’08 Com
Consultant
PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP
New York

Read Cocco’s official bio and position statement here. (PDF download.)

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1. Describe how you think the relationship between the Board of Trustees and the university president should function.

The Board of Trustees must be ready to work with incoming president Dr. Eric Barron to continue building on recent success while preparing for the future. Today, Penn State leads the way in the areas of academics, research, service, and athletics. However, universities are facing greater obstacles than ever before and the Board of Trustees has a responsibility to work with President Barron to identify solutions. Members of the Board need to support a successful leadership transition by providing the right balance of oversight and guidance for the new administration. This could be done by making improvements to communication and transparency, involving students and faculty in decisions that impact them, and by holding administrators accountable when necessary. Current students have shared their concern with me regarding the divide between themselves and alumni and also with University leadership. A new president along with fresh Board leadership is our opportunity to unify the Penn State community.

2. What would you do to help heal the university community and to assist the university as it continues to recover from the Sandusky scandal?

Penn State students are concentrating on their academic experiences and preparing for their promising futures. There are alumni and friends who are deeply concerned the events surrounding the scandal will define our University and its past. The best way for Trustees to bridge this gap in understanding is to honor the past and focus on the future by promoting the best of Penn State. We need to better highlight accomplishments of our University to attract top employers, students, faculty, and staff to our campuses. Trust by alumni in the Board needs to be restored and there is more work to do. The Board should reform governance and accountability by encouraging closer collaboration with faculty and students. Leadership should continue reforms that improve decision-making abilities and transparency. Earning my Penn State degree and my experience leading THON are defining moments in my life. I want the same opportunities for current and future students. As a Trustee I will work to ensure the promise of a world-class education is continued and that the core mission of our University is fulfilled.

3. What, in your view, are the major fiscal challenges Penn State will face over the next three years—and how should the university address them?

Penn State is recognized as one of the top universities in the world but like our peers, we still have significant fiscal challenges. While state funding has decreased or remained the same in recent years, the Board needs to have meaningful discussions about how to better control the cost of a Penn State education. Trustees should take on a more active, yet coordinated, role in advocating for greater state funding in Harrisburg. They will need to work with the administration to make the case for an affordable education for students and highlight the positive impacts made by the University in communities throughout the state and region. The Board should also closely review budgets that directly add to the cost of tuition to ensure value is delivered along with a quality Penn State degree. The Commonwealth Campuses provide opportunities to first generation college students to pursue an education. I attended Penn State Hazleton before graduating from University Park and saw firsthand the difference made when a world-class education is closer to home. We need to find ways to make sure all campuses remain accessible and affordable for future students.

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