Mark S. Connolly, Ballot Position No. 21

ConnollyMark S. Connolly ’84 PhD Sci

Intellectual property director
E.I. DuPont de Nemours & Co.
West Chester, Pa.

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

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1. What should Penn State be looking for in its next president?

The new President should have several important qualifications. First and foremost, she needs to be an excellent communicator and have the ability to build constructive relationships among several university constituents – the faculty, staff, students, State College residents and the alumni. She needs to accept the BoT as her supervisor, seek guidance from the Board for strategic issues and inform the Board of key issues with University administration. Ideally, the new President should have experience with “crisis” management, and a track record of dealing with crises using sound judgment and a cool head. Finally, the President must be academically strong to have the credibility required and to build trust needed to establish an excellent working relationship with the faculty. It will be incumbent upon the new President to continue the journey to World Class Excellence by recruiting the best faculty and students, and delivering the best infrastructure and services, to enable Penn State to take its rightful place among the elite universities of the country.

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.

As a starting point, the BoT should adopt the recommendations of PA Auditor General Jack Wagner’s report “Recommendations for Governance Reform at The Pennsylvania State University after the Child Sex Abuse Scandal”, published in November 2012. (See: http://www.auditorgen.state.pa.us/reports/PennStateSpecialReport.pdf). It’s important the governor become non–voting and the University president is no longer a part of the BoT. Further, the BoT needs to be substantially smaller in size, and the Business & Industry trustees elected from PA business organizations (TBD) rather than an elite group within the Board. The BoT needs to engage the University constituents in a more open and transparent way, holding town meetings and other (non board meeting) gatherings to listen and share perspectives. Finally, the Board must become much more aggressive about challenging and reversing the outrageous and unjust sanction imposed by the NCAA.

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?

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.

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