Kathleen A. Pavelko, Ballot Position No. 1

PavelkoKathleen Pavelko ’75 Lib, ’79 MA Com

President and CEO
New Cumberland, Pa.

Read Pavelko’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?

Penn State should seek a gifted higher education leader whose early career demonstrated both scholarly achievement and effectiveness in shared governance. Because it is likely that much of the rest of candidate’s career will have been in administration, I recommend looking for an individual:

• With experience in large non-profit organizations, preferable with universities with public funding and multiple locations;

• With a calm, collaborative and listening temperament;

• Who can be effective in communicating in both small and large group settings;

• An appreciation for STEM disciplines (as these are important employment drivers for Pennsylvania), regardless of her/his personal background;

• An appreciation for the humanities and the arts, as these fields enrich every graduate’s life;

• An ability to understand Pennsylvania and Penn State’s unique characteristics, including breadth of curriculum, a geographically dispersed university; the emotional intensity of Penn State constituents, (including alumni); the impact of recent events; and the need to restore the bonds of affection between and among alumni, board, staff, faculty, and elected officials.

• A track record of building consensus with faculty, board and external constituencies;

• A vision for Penn State that combines academic excellence with pragmatic management and responsiveness to technological developments.

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.

Penn State is not a broken institution, though it has been wounded by a predator in our midst and by failures in our responses. Despite the need for reform, we must remember that Penn State is one of the best public research universities in the world. The reforms should begin with the Board of Trustees and should be led by the Board. It should act on all areas within its purview and advocate for action in areas requiring legislation. These include:

• Removing (or making non-voting) political office-holders (the governor and three cabinet secretaries) and the university president;

• Restructuring the board to emphasize expertise rather than representation, with this suggested complement of 21 voting trustees: 4 gubernatorial appointments, one of whom should be a student; 8 trustees representing expertise from agriculture, mining, engineering, business, manufacturing, life sciences and technology, to be selected by the board from nominees proposed by relevant associations.; 6 alumni trustees elected by alumni; 1 academic trustee (a Penn State faculty member) elected by the Faculty Senate; 2 trustees selected by the board itself, to fill gaps in expertise not represented by those selected by others.

Beyond structure, the Board should lead by example in welcoming (and responding to) public comments at its meetings and elsewhere; by seeking the counsel of its own faculty and staff, and through new mechanisms to make its deliberations (and not just its decisions) more transparent.

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?

The primary obligation of a trustee is to serve the university’s mission of teaching, research and service. Persons with expertise in business, agriculture and government—along with experience as an alumni—bring valuable expertise to the board, not because they owe their allegiance to those they represent, but because their perspectives enrich the Board’s guidance of the University. Trustees who are alumni have received the tangible gift of a Penn State education along with the less tangible but no less powerful experience of being part of a Penn State community—of being a Penn Stater. An alumna/alumnus is a natural advocate for the students who follow, and for their families, who have made considerable sacrifices to make their education possible. It has been my great fortune to have experienced Penn State in more ways than most candidates for the board: as an alumna, a staff member, as an adjunct faculty member, as a wife of an emeritus faculty member, and as an active volunteer (advisory boards, Communications student panels, etc.) It would be my great honor to bring my alumna’s perspectives to the challenges of keeping Penn State one of our Commonwealth’s most treasured assets, and one of the world’s foremost public research universities.

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