Charles R. Mazzitti, Ballot Position No. 33
Mazzitti & Sullivan E.A.P. Services
Read Mazzitti’s official bio and position statement here (PDF download).
1. What should Penn State be looking for in its next president?
The next president of Penn State faces enormous problems as a result of the past two years. However, he/she also has tremendous opportunities to move the University in fresh, new ways that build on the strong foundation of our Alma Mater. Our next president must have an excellent understanding of the unique operating requirements of a land grant university. He/she must be ready to carry out the vision of our board, but also offer his/her insights for success in the future. Instead of being comfortable with an Ivory tower approach to leadership, the next president should be entrepreneurial and challenge the university and its faculty to take educated risks in the pursuit of exciting and leading edge academic and research developments. He/she must be a master of building and maintaining relationships—with the trustees, faculty, alumni, students, community and legislature. Our faculty needs to be engaged as partners in the mission and future of Penn State, not treated as simply employees. The president of Penn State must be approachable. A servant leader who would stop and offer directions to someone on campus who looks lost. Our next president should be dedicated to the growth of Penn State, while embracing a rededication to our land grant mission. Size and quality are not synonymous. We need leadership that understands that affordability does not mean excessive student debt. Our next president must understand that Penn State’s legacy is in the number of educated, productive members of society it produces, not just buildings.
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.
The actions of this Board of Trustees following the Sandusky scandal make it clear that reform is needed. First, they fired an employee of 61years over the phone. Next, they commissioned the Freeh report for $8.147 million. This report was immediately used by the NCAA to fine Penn State $60 million while crippling the athletic program and the regional economy. The report then provided a road map for 30 lawsuits that may cost Penn State up to $300 million. This so called “leadership” is the direct result of our current Board’s composition and management structure. For Penn State to heal from the events of the past 17 months, the leadership associated with that time period must change. The failure of our current Board of Trustees to understand that is indicative of self interest, and not the best interests of Penn State. The size and structure of the board should change. I support many of the recommendations advanced by Auditor General Wagner and the recent Senate Faculty report, especially faculty representation on the Board. I strongly support the legislation introduced by Senator Dinniman and Representative Conklin in their respective chambers. In addition, I believe that the Board of Trustees and the University should be subject to the Open Records law and the State Ethics Act. These last two requirements will go a long way toward restoring confidence in the Board, and will eliminate any self interest and personal agendas that may exist.
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?
More than any other Trustee group, Alumni Trustees should have the best interests of the University and its students as their primary focus. Trustee membership for alumni must be based on gratitude and service to Penn State, not ego or possible personal reward. Alumni Trustees must be constant ambassadors for Penn State—with the Governor, the legislature, the business community, the local community, the faculty, alumni and students. They should engage everyone at all levels to promote the University, not simply attend meetings and go home. The alumni trustees should push for openness, honesty, integrity and clarity in all board operations, including the election of member Trustees from other representative groups. Penn State is not just a large corporation, and its growth and prosperity come from many different venues and vested parties. I will work to return Penn State to its mission, “the education of youth” of Pennsylvania and the world. Our Commonwealth Campuses offer excellent, local educational opportunities for our citizens. As a trustee, I will continue my work to nurture them and the communities they serve. Education that is not affordable is also not attainable. Saddling our graduates with massive student debt cripples not only their future, but the future of our economy and country. I will push for increased operational efficiency where it may be found; innovative approaches to education that lower cost but maintain or improve quality; and build relationships that produce increased state appropriations from committed legislators. One seat. Thousands of voices. For the Future.