Robert N. Grimes, Ballot Position No. 26
Chairman, CEO, and president
ConStrata Tech Consulting
Read Grimes’ official bio and position statement here (PDF download).
1. What should Penn State be looking for in its next president?
The next Penn State President comes to us at a time that opens up many opportunities to take the University forward. My belief is that we need a President who can take charge and show immediate leadership to shore up the reputation of the University both inside with the faculty and staff as well as outside in the local community and within the State. This takes someone who has strong presence and can work effectively with politicians and alumni to come up with ways to meet the growing demands of Penn State in serving the students and community. But thinking towards the future, the continuing financial pressures on Penn State requires that the new President be someone who can work with the State and at the same time continue to build and maintain bridges with business & industry in providing research grants. Bridges need to be mended with the alumni and other supporters of Penn State as much of the development funds comes from these parties. As part of this, a continued review of the NCAA sanctions needs to occur in a thoughtful way in order to negotiate the lifting of the sanctions and return Penn State to a place where we can again offer meaningful scholarships and showcase our strong academic and athletic traditions. Leadership, Development, Financial, Academic, Research are all the key strengths and attributes we will look for the new President to have as we select the right one for Penn State’s 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.
Clearly the way that the Board of Trustees interacts with all of the various factions inside and outside of the University is key. If there is major change that is needed it will be in the area of transparency. In this world of social media and information moving at light-speed, the Board of Trustees also needs to be able to put out the right messages and information at the right time, while being seen as an organization that is listening to their constituents. Looking back over the past two years of challenges to both Penn State and the Board of Trustees, the handling of the Sandusky Scandal is a lesson in what not to do going forward. The perception is that the Board of Trustees, in an effort to placate the public and media opinions, seemed to take actions that were not consistent with a complete review and analysis of a very critical situation. Reform is needed on the Board. This reform is needed on how Board members are elected and appointed along with a realignment of the members allocated to interest groups needs to be reviewed. Reconsideration needs to be given on how the Board votes and also how crisis situations are handled in the future. Along with this the authority of the University Officials needs to be reviewed and changes made when decisions are made that impact the future of the University.
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 needs to represent the interests of the Alumni—something any candidate should say running for this position. But an Alumni Trustee also needs to be involved in every aspect of the university and community levels that are being served. It is critical that they have both the time and interest to be involved and consider all initiatives and activities of the Board in a complete and fair light.
In doing this, direct, two-way communications with the alumni are required. This means providing reporting on what is being brought in front of the Board, soliciting comments, and listening to varying opinions and views. But the Alumni Trustee is also an ambassador of the Board and needs to be able, both in time and financially, to participate and meet with alumni as much as possible throughout the year—and not just in State College or even in Pennsylvania.
I believe that I have all of these key attributes to be a very successful representative of the alumni of Penn State. So whether it is communications through my own website, blog and direct meetings by attending events, or connecting Penn Staters as I travel throughout the US and globe, I will constantly be seeking to promote Penn State and bring back the ideas and opinions to share with the Board in making the best decisions possible, now, and For the Future of Penn State.