Barbara L. Doran, Ballot Position No. 22

DoranBarbara L. Doran ’75 Lib

Wealth adviser
Morgan Stanley Smith Barney
New York, N.Y.

Read Doran’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 modern university presidency is an immensely complex job, and nowhere is it more multifaceted and challenging than at Penn State, overseeing 24 campuses, the World Campus, an elite athletics program, and dozens of the world’s leading academic programs. The president of a great university is a talented, artful executive, statesman and visionary. Our next President should come from outside the current Penn State administration to bring a fresh perspective and be beholden to no one. At the same time, that person should be willing to embrace the University’s history and traditions while exhibiting the insight and experience to make changes that advance and integrate teaching, research and service. The president must have the credentials to be respected by faculty, the personality and energy to be embraced by students, the fundraising acumen to connect with donors, the political skills to engage with the legislature and congress, the openness and media savvy to handle the daily challenges of an inquiring public, the acumen to deal with a governing board that has lost credibility with important constituencies, and must have real business skill to resolve the tension between escalating costs and low tolerance for passing those costs on to students and taxpayers—without negatively impacting the academic mission. Our next president should have the capacity and passion to mend fences with key stakeholders. Penn State has had some remarkable leaders who collectively created the foundation for what we have today. I am confident there is another great president in our future.

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.

Faulty decision-making with far-reaching, long-lasting and extremely negative consequences is the issue here, and the question is could board restructuring lessen the possibility of future missteps? I would argue yes. Large boards often mitigate against individual engagement and accountability, as power devolves to the more agile and focused Executive Committee: the board should be smaller. The rationale for 10 governor’s representatives should be reexamined given the state’s proportionately smaller revenue contribution. Eliminate the three state department heads and the vote for the governor, as all must put the interests of the state first: reduce appointees. Because Penn State has evolved in the modern era into a comprehensive university with dozens of fields of study, it might be advisable to revisit designated trustee positions for agriculture and industry and to broaden the scope of disciplinary background. Developing a transparent, rigorous process for nomination/election of candidates is also desirable. The President should have no vote as an employee. Term limits should apply equally to all board members, with years served to date counting: worries over loss of institutional knowledge appear self-serving and unwarranted given the horrendous missteps of the last 18 months. Restrictions on insiders moving from staff to trustee should apply as well to trustees moving to staff: trustees gain insider knowledge and perceived advantage, jeopardizing the appearance of independence and fairness. Public dissent by trustees should be allowed and documented. The proposed rule to expel board members is ill-advised and easily abused to silence legitimate voices of change and opposition.

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?

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.

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1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Steve Schwichow, '66, '68  |  April 29, 2013 at 7:37 pm

    “The President should have no vote as an employee.”

    Ms. Doran, this statement alone has garnered my vote. I believe you are on the right track and will do a great job as a trustee.

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