Gavin Keirans, Ballot Position No. 4

KeiransGavin Keirans ’10 Bus

Strategy consultant manager
Philadelphia

Read Keirans’ 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 President and his Vice Presidents need to keep the board deeply informed of all major decisions facing the university, especially those with potential financial impact. The Board of Trustees has a fiduciary responsibility, and needs to be equipped with the data/rationale to support any votes they must cast. This is especially true of the seven standing committees, who should have at their disposal subject matter experts (SMEs) on the relevant topic, as well as any reports/presentations they request. I saw firsthand how the board and the university president have operated in the past, having attended 22 board meetings over the years, and knowing many of the trustees and the administrators on President’s council. The biggest opportunity is for trustees to be more engaged and ask for the type of detail I mention above. While the trustees have always come with questions, they rarely asked for deeper insights in order to make more informed decisions. We need to see detailed business plans related to potential votes, and granular details of the overall cost structure. Ultimately, the President should be putting forward his strategic plan and engaging the board for counsel on how to see it come to fruition. The President should be open to feedback from the board on how to shape the final plans for the university, as well as engagement from the faculty and student leaders.

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?

Having been a two-time Student Body President and having recently sat on the Executive Board of Alumni Council, there is no other candidate that has engaged as much as I have with the Penn State community. Penn State changed my life and helped shape me into the person I am today. I will work tirelessly to ensure that generations of Penn Staters get this same experience. I have built many deep and lasting relationships, which has put me in a position to be a coalition builder, helping to heal the divide that currently exists in our community. This will include tackling tough issues and building consensus, where others have failed. I will directly address the structure of the board, including the major lack of alumni trustee representation on the Executive Committee, where all the decisions are made. I’ll go further to ensure that as we enter the end of our four-year NCAA persecution, and resolution of pending court cases, the board will take measures to heal the Penn State family, including addressing the results of our recent alumni survey to properly honor the legacy of Joe & Sue Paterno. Additionally, I plan to hold myself accountable through quarterly public updates and have already launched an initiative called AccountableTrustee.com. I’ve also spent the time in the last couple months to have in person meetings with key administrative, student, faculty and alumni leaders so that I’ll be ready to get to work on day one.

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?

First and foremost, we need to stop the trend of an ever-increasing Operating Budget, with reduced/flat state appropriations, so that lower & middle class families can attend Penn State without drowning in student loan debt. As someone who graduated with $20,000+ in debt, I know personally how our tuition costs can be prohibitive to attending our great university. Part of looking at the overall cost structure, is also looking at the synergies that may exist in functions across our commonwealth campus network. We must also address the ongoing issue of our debt capacity and continual borrowing to finance new projects. This is a major reason why we have introduced new fee structures, such as the Facilities Fee, so that we can continue to finance the costs of new projects for student space. A major part of being a trustee is your fiduciary responsibility, and this issue has not fully been addressed. We must make this a priority so that it does not plague our university for years to come. Professionally, I work in the Management Consulting industry for global consultancy Accenture. It requires a significant commitment, analyzing and developing strategies for some of the leading companies in the world. I specialize in providing financial benefit to clients, either through cost savings efforts or margin/revenue growth. This will prove valuable in executing my fiduciary responsibility on the board, as I have provided actual financials benefits for many Fortune 500 companies.

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