Julie Harris McHugh, Ballot Position No. 18
Retired biopharmaceutical executive
Read McHugh’s official bio and position statement here. (PDF download.)
1. Describe how you think the relationship between the Board of Trustees and the university president should function.
The Board of Trustees must ensure that Penn State remains on the leading edge of providing a world-class, affordable education in an increasingly challenging environment. The Board must collaborate with our new President in setting a compelling vision and updating the University’s strategic plan. The current strategic plan sunsets this year, providing Dr. Barron a significant and immediate opportunity to put his personal leadership mark on the next chapter of Penn State’s history. As a trustee, I will bring a spirit of optimism and excitement to defining the roadmap for our future. The Board of Trustees is responsible for ensuring that the best interests of all University stakeholders are considered in setting major goals and making important decisions. To this end as a Trustee, I will be an ambassador for all stakeholders: students, faculty, alumni, staff and the community that we serve, and I will help Dr. Barron to connect with these constituents. The Board must ensure that the University’s financial resources are being used wisely and that all activities of the University are carried out with the highest ethical standard and in full compliance with all laws and regulations. As an experienced director on boards of public, private company and non-profit boards, I understand the duties of a Trustee and will carry them out with enthusiasm in service of the University. As a trustee, I will respect Dr. Barron’s role in leading the day to day operations of the University while ensuring administration accountability and transparency.
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?
I believe that the university community has made significant progress in moving beyond the events of 2011. I acknowledge that there is more work to be done. However, I believe the best way to advance as a university community is to focus on what unites us. When we focus on accessibility and affordability of a Penn State education, world-class learning experiences, academic and research excellence, and the celebration of our wide range of achievements, we engage the hearts and minds of all University stakeholders in creating our future. It is our actions today that will define us and continue shaping our reputation. Trustees represent the entirety of University stakeholders: The 100,000 current students, the 44,000 employees, the over half a million alumni, and the millions of lives that our university impacts in the Commonwealth and beyond. As a trustee, I will seek to understand the views of these constituents, ensure their voices are heard, and engage as many as possible in contributing to the exciting work that lies ahead. I believe that Joe Paterno and his family deserve to be recognized for their significant contributions to Penn State’s legacy of excellence. I am confident that the University will do so in time when various pending legal proceedings have concluded. Our university needs to move forward or risk being captives of the past. We have a unique opportunity to get behind our new leaders, President Barron, Provost Jones, Coach Franklin and others and get to work on our future.
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?
I believe the three primary fiscal challenges facing the university are:
- Seeking new and/or improved sources of revenue, while holding tuition increases to an absolute minimum
- Identifying and acting on opportunities to reduce expenses
- Identifying and implementing efficiency measures that improve the value of a Penn State education without increasing costs
The first challenge will require a redoubling of efforts in Harrisburg to increase appropriations. For the past several years, state funding has been declining or stagnant. As a trustee, I will spend time in Harrisburg articulating the positive return to Pennsylvania’s economy for every dollar invested in Penn State. Another way to address this challenge is to continue to innovate in unlocking new sources of revenue. Penn State’s World Campus is a great example how this can be accomplished. The second challenge will require a holistic review of how Penn State operates. University leadership will have to be decisive in making hard choices about what to fund and what to discontinue. As a trustee, I will bring my experience as an operating executive to ensure discipline around making difficult funding decisions. The third challenge is about innovation in how we deliver a world-class education. I believe there are opportunities to reduce redundancies across the various colleges, improve collaboration across disciplines of study, and make more effective use of technology to optimize the balance of classroom instruction and virtual learning. Doing so will enable us to expand our reach without increasing our capital and operating budgets.