Question No. 1: The Next President
What should Penn State be looking for in its next president?
1. Kathleen A. Pavelko ’75 Lib, ’79 MA Com
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. Pratima Gatehouse ’96, ’10 MS Eng
I would look for two key attributes in Penn State’s next President. First, we need someone that has a vision for Penn State to stay ahead of trends in the rapidly changing arena of higher education. This includes building on our leadership position in global education, but also coming up with innovative ways to educate students at an affordable cost while maintaining Penn State standards of excellence. The new President should have a breadth and depth of knowledge of higher education including funding and our three part mission of teaching, research and service. The vision needs to focus on quality and value of research and academics. Penn State’s president will probably have to develop a new financial model that will enhance the revenue generating areas of the university and maintain support to all the other areas. This means ensuring revenue generating faculty/departments are rewarded but not by just cutting departments that are not profitable.
Second, the new President should have demonstrated collaborative skill and proven ability to work with multiple/ diverse constituencies. To implement a proactive plan to such a diverse set of people and interest groups, the president will need to be able to work with people well. A collaborative management style will allow the President to carry best practices between and throughout all levels and divisions of Penn State, which will result in Penn State’s ability to provide affordable tuition while continuing to improve academic standards and rankings.
3. Eugene Bella ’63 Eng
I could list skills that organizations look for in a person to lead them but these would be those which most would normally list – vision and strategic thinking, communications, interaction, conflict resolution, decision making, positive-thinking, etc. However, what is most important in this critical decision is the process used to select this leader. The process should not only include the Board of Trustees and an experienced search firm but also include selected alumni, faculty, and student leaders. The vehicle they should use is the Targeted Selection method which evaluates candidates based on their past performance to hire the right person. Similar questions are asked of each candidate and are based on the top priorities of PSU and the job objectives. This must be done meticulously. Along with evaluating the candidates based on responses to the leadership questions, the candidates must understand where PSU is at this time. “What would be your detailed plan to restore our reputation as a great University” is the most important question. The selection committee can use this response to determine not only the path that the candidate sees for our University but also how the candidate uses past performance and skills to formulate and implement this plan. This person must have the mental toughness for this job and also respect and have the respect of those with whom the leader interfaces. Each candidate’s network of contacts is important since this may be vital to the effectiveness of the future President’s plans.
4. Paul V. Suhey ’79 Lib
Qualities that are priorities for me in a university presidential candidate:
• Someone (he or she) who understands and appreciates the heritage and character of our university and community, and our roots as an agricultural and land grant institution.
• A leader who understands the breadth and depth of Penn State’s mission of teaching, research and service. A leader who is innovative and in tune with the challenges we will face as one of the nation’s largest and most complex universities. • Humility and charisma. I think those two attributes are not mutually exclusive and the right candidate will have a healthy balance of the two.
• A good listener, because I believe the best leaders “spend more time on receive than they do on broadcast.” That is why we have two ears and one mouth.
• A good communicator because one of the most important jobs of a university president is his or her ability to represent the school and to establish support and rapport among students, faculty, alumni, and legislators.
• Courage and conviction. Enough said.
• Talent, vision, and experience to recognize and adapt to the dynamic, ever-changing demands of higher education. Our goal should be a search that’s as broad as possible, and identifies a diverse pool of both traditional (academic) and non-traditional candidates of the highest caliber.
5. Thomas A. Conley ’01 Eng
Selecting Penn State’s next president is an undertaking as important as overhauling our Board. The reason for the need is similar in both instances: to solidify and promote Penn State as one of the top universities worldwide. Being the top means many things, starting with creating an environment where student learning and leadership are the University’s priorities. To establish Penn State as an academic leader, the next president best can serve the University community if he or she is most celebrated for his or her academic achievements. While the president position does require savvy political and fundraising know-how, the new hire can stay on track to celebrate Penn State’s academic leadership if he or she first has earned those honors as an individual. With a president previously concentrating his or her own career in academia, he or she will be able to lead the University in that same vein. Trust is another benchmark on which candidates will be measured. As a pilot for our nation’s First Lady, Speaker of the House and four-star generals, I know what it takes to develop the highest level of public trust. I look forward to welcoming University leadership with unquestionable character and aptitude. At many academically-celebrated, well-rounded institutions, learning takes place beyond the classroom, library or lab, just as it does at Penn State. But at Penn State we need to change the tone to place learning first. In a culture of academic excellence, generations of leaders start as learners.
6. John W. Diercks ’63, ’67 MS, ’75 PhD EMS
Penn State’s next president needs to have strong leadership skills, charisma, the will to fight for the University’s best interests, and an ability to solve difficult problems. The next president must be able to manage without getting deep into details. He/she needs to have faith in others to manage the details. This characteristic is absolutely essential due to the demands on the president’s time. The individual should be seen frequently on the University Park Campus and branch campuses by students, faculty, and staff to build morale and confidence in significant decisions that affect the University. The next president needs to be able to clearly explain important decisions in an effort to be transparent to the University population and alumni. He/she must also be knowledgeable in academic, research, and financial issues to effectively lead a great public university. The individual should have demonstrated a past ability to solve difficult problems and to take the lead in fighting decisions by outside sources that would have had a negative impact on his/her past organization. The individual should not be laid back when it involves fighting for important issues that could affect the University. Another significant attribute should be an ability to work with the State legislature, alumni, Federal agencies, and corporations for the good of the University. This requires an outgoing personality. He/she needs common sense to lead, knowledge of the issues, and the fortitude to fight for what is right.
7. Edward B. “Ted” Brown III ’68 Sci
University presidents are expected to be all things to all people, which would be great, but somewhat unrealistic. The next president of Penn State must be most things to most people. Among the most important attributes is being respectful and appreciative of the University’s traditions while not being afraid to change policies and programs that could benefit from change. Penn State will soon complete a $2 billion capital campaign. The next president will undoubtedly need to begin another campaign, which will require strong interpersonal skills and fund raising acumen. Penn State has several dozen programs ranked in the top 20 nationally; to continue this progress, the president must be able to lead the faculty and appreciate important academic values. Support of shared governance, attention to deferred maintenance and upgrading of facilities, and promotion of the integration of teaching, research, and service are examples of important values. Most critical is that the president truly values students, is enthusiastic about being around them, and desires to see them succeed. Penn State’s goal of being the top student-centered research university in America is still worthy. Our University faces a challenge as the Board of Trustees evolves in membership, and the new president will need to work with the board to define where governance begins and ends and where presidential leadership and management needs to be able to flourish. Even though my 45 year career is in business, I favor a new President with an Academic background to restore Faculty and Staff morale.
8. Rudolph K. Glocker ’91, 93 MA Lib
Penn State’s next President needs to have excellent leadership and communication skills as well as expertise in on-line education. Penn State enters 2013 facing daunting challenges and also great opportunities. The aforementioned skills will be necessary to seize these opportunities and overcome these challenges. Penn State’s next President is going to have to lead the University community over the next several years. Penn State is currently experiencing a prolonged leadership vacuum that is damaging both its long and short-term prospects. The next President will need to demonstrate that there is a plan and a process for Penn State to enhance its statue in the educational community. The President will also need to pull together students, faculty, staff and alumni to achieve these goals. Communication skills are critical. There currently exists an incredible amount of dissention and angst amongst different Penn State communities. The next President will have to reach out to each of these constituencies, ease their anxieties, help them understand where the University is going, how it is going to get there and how they can help. This is no small task. On-line education represents one of Penn State’s largest challenges and opportunities. Penn State is currently a leader in the space, but the landscape is changing every week. It will be critical that the next University President understands this growing fields, Penn State’s strengths and weaknesses and quickly establishes how Penn State can further its lead amongst institutions in the space.
9. Christopher J. Bartnik ’91, ’96 MBA Bus
The next president should have a record of success as President of a mid to major level University. He/she needs to be a visionary who verbalizes future trends in higher education. He/she should be a leader and a manager with experience in both the academic and business side of University functions. He/she must be able to verbalize specific steps to overhaul the University’s financial structure with the objective of stabilizing and ultimately reducing the cost of a Penn State education. Finally, the next President must be charismatic and capable of dealing in the media spotlight. They should address the current sanctions levied by the NCAA. Given the feedback provided by George Mitchell and Penn State’s historical leadership in the development of the full student athlete, the new President should be willing to ask to have the sanctions removed.
10. Vincent J. Tedesco ’64 Bus
I would want a person who is a proven leader with a record of effective management of a very large and diverse operation. I would seek a person who has strong ties to Penn State and understands the special place the university has in the hearts and minds of the alumni and the citizens of the State of Pennsylvania. To find these qualifications in a person with an academic background would be ideal, but not a hard requirement. Proven leadership and strong Penn State ties are the key requirements at this time in our university’s history.
11. William J. Cluck ’82 Lib
The ability to pick quality people for senior staff positions is crucial. Advice is no better than the people giving it. The ability to listen carefully to senior advisors, students, faculty, alumni and other constituencies will be key to the new President’s ability to make well informed decisions that balance the needs of sometimes competing perspectives.
Our next President will be uncommonly busy and pulled in many directions—all of which matter. Due to dwindling state funding, will Penn State need to close any branch campuses, or eliminate departments, or go private? These challenges require strong business skills and fundraising ability. Tuition and the resulting student debt load are too high already.
A substantial background in academics will enhance the University’s ability to secure grants that can keep the research mission strong. A proven record in securing grants is a key tool in recruiting distinguished faculty. This is a particular concern as Penn State faculty salaries have fallen near the bottom of the Big Ten.
The new President must have strong communication skills and good judgment about messaging. Weaknesses in these areas go far to explain why Penn State finds itself in the current controversies.
This President must take the lead in reforming the Board of Trustees. The current Board is top heavy in some interest groups and lacking representation in others. More alumni should be involved in the selection process, to be sure the full spectrum of Penn State is involved.
12. Stephanie Nolan Deviney ’97 JD Law
At a joint meeting of the Blue & White Vision Council and Presidential Search Committee, I explored this very question with a group of students, faculty, staff, and academic and campus leadership. Despite the diversity of this group, its vision for our next president was unified by an essential theme—Penn State is a world renowned research institution committed to academic and personal excellence. Our next president must push Penn State’s reputation to even higher levels through a commitment to academic integrity and a desire for excellence. Our president must be trustworthy, exhibit the highest personal integrity, communicate well with others (including engaging in active listening), and motivate and inspire others to achieve their full potential. Penn State’s growing World Campus, engagement in MOOCs, and desire to lead the digital revolution (all of which are changing the delivery of higher education), requires an innovative and visionary president who is knowledgeable in technology. Our next president must manage complex and diverse issues presented by our unique campus structure. Through strategy and collaboration, each campus must share in the fulfillment of our land grant mission to provide access to an affordable education for all people. Despite being the single largest contributor to Pennsylvania’s economy, Penn State’s appropriation from the Commonwealth continues to decrease and due to demographics it will likely never be restored to prior levels. Our new president must utilize innovative cost cutting measures and increase fundraising efforts to be a revenue generator capable of sustaining Penn State for future generations.
13. John M. Mason Jr. ’72 Hbg
Our next President of Penn State should:
• Possess the requisite knowledge, skills and abilities of a CEO responsible for a large complex organization,
• Articulate a clear and succinct vision for both sustaining and advancing Penn State’s land-grant mission,
• Demonstrate a firm understanding of the emerging academic challenges and opportunities associated with non-traditional, on-line instructional technologies,
• Address promptly the implications of increased financial burdens on attaining a degree at Penn State,
• Promote the economic benefits and contributions that Penn State provides to the State of Pennsylvania.
Early articulation of a clear vision for moving Penn State forward, coupled with creativity and ubiquitous accountability (in the classroom and within athletics), will ensure the continued, positive advancement of the University. Without fail, the President must possess excellent communication skills, support transparency of public operations, and promote shared governance, diversity and inclusiveness among all constituencies. Additionally, the President should practice with priority, the assurance of safety and well-being of any individual affiliated with Penn State. The President should possess a strong commitment to strategic planning and demonstrated experience with a geographically distributed land-grant university system. The next President will face an ever expanding on-line educational environment, while simultaneously addressing the impacts of sustaining traditional residential campus experiences. The challenges include quality education via alternative and massive open on-line courses. At issue is to what extent will Penn State be a global university, or a land-grant with global perspectives?
14. Robert J. Bowsher ’86 Bus
For its next president, Penn State should look for a genuine person who understands the complexity of how university constituents interact together and who will lead each group to excellence. More than ever, Penn State needs a president who will courageously handle pressure-filled situations and who will step in whenever the University needs help. To restore its good name and reputation, Penn State needs a president with impeccable ethics and credentials. The next president should be someone who will build upon Penn State’s past successes and who will always put the University in its best light. Our alma mater should hire a person who’s respected and admired by politicians, but who won’t play politics with the Penn State community. Penn State should look for a president who will manage the University’s financial resources prudently. Asking people to donate money to Penn State is a duty this person will embrace and enjoy. The next Penn State president should be someone whose outstanding job performance convinces the University’s top-notch faculty and staff to remain on our campuses, and motivates talented faculty and staff from other schools to apply for jobs at Penn State.
15. Doreen Ulichney Schivley ’78 Edu
The next president should have the core values of visionary leadership; valuing faculty, staff, students, and alumni; focus on the future; and management by fact and innovation. To display visionary leadership, active listening and communication skills should be evident. Actions need to be proactive rather than reactive. To exhibit value of stakeholders, the President must be people oriented, showing an awareness of their needs and values. A charismatic side is a necessity. To focus on the future and management by fact for innovation, he or she must be knowledgeable and aware of all the laws, mandates, and standards that apply to higher education. There must be a vocal side for all Penn State causes. The use of data in regards to academics, research, athletics, the arts, and student life will steer the university to the next level of excellence so Success with Honor could prevail. Finally, the next president should have experience/background in education. Personally, I would like the individual to have a sense of humor
16. J. Andrew Weidman ’78 Bus
Obviously, we need the next President of Penn State to be a strong and dynamic leader, someone with excellent communication skills, who is committed and competent, and has the courage to do the right thing—always. This person should have a national reputation, but not necessarily an academic background. A primary task this individual must undertake immediately is the restoration of the great name of Pennsylvania State University. We need to make sure that what makes Penn State great—producing graduates ready to make a contribution to society—remains our primary focus. Recruiters believe that Penn State grads are among the most prepared and well-rounded academically—that is something we need to be proud of and continue to emphasize. We gain our greatest academic reputation in the REAL WORLD through the achievements of our alumni, and I want our next President to share that belief. Obviously, a President of a major public university must be extremely skilled at fundraising, and this will be more critical than ever in the future. But revenue is only one piece of the financial puzzle. While the Commonwealth continues to provide a decreasing percentage of our budget, we need a President who is also willing to focus on cost containment—we need to make sure that a great Penn State education remains affordable for high school students across Pennsylvania. The hiring of the president is one of the most important responsibilities of the Board of Trustees—we need to make sure we get it right.
17. Ben J. Novak ’65 Lib, ’99 PhD IDF
In the late 1870s and early 1880s, Penn State was facing a crisis even worse, perhaps, than the present one. The Trustees were petitioned to remove president Calder for cruelty to students; Philadelphia newspapers were claiming that the institution was a fraud; the governor was antagonistic; the legislature was so angry that it ordered all salaries at Penn State cut by 10 percent. A new president was sorely needed. The man the Trustees found, George Atherton, was a visionary. In 1882, when he became president, the graduating class consisted of only seven students. But he believed that this tiny institution had enough spirit to become one of the greatest universities in America. He communicated that faith to everyone he met. By recognizing and fostering the spirit of Penn State, George Atherton rescued the University and started us on our way. Now we are in a crisis once again, and we need a president who is a visionary, who believes in the spirit of Penn State, someone who will believe in us and call out the best in us, and someone who can once again communicate that faith to others. George Atherton led by sharing a vision, and he taught every part of the Penn State to cooperate for the sake of that vision. That is what made Penn State so great—he invited us all to have a part. Once again we need a visionary and outstanding leader able to make us believe in Penn State and ourselves.
18. O. Richard Bundy III ’93, ’96 MA Lib
I consider Penn State to be the premier Land Grant University in the nation, and the presidency of our institution will be a highly coveted position in the academy, even with our current challenges. But given the recent history at Penn State, the next president will have to be particularly strong in certain key areas.
The next president of Penn State must be a superb communicator – equally adept at enunciating key messages to widely different stakeholder audiences as s/he is a considerate and attentive listener.
The next president of Penn State must be deeply committed to transparency. He or she will lead much-needed institutional change during their tenure, and will need to have thick skin and broad shoulders to weather the criticism that will come with challenging the status quo. An individual skilled in change management will be critical.
Penn State would do well to search both inside and outside the academy for the most outstanding talent, but whatever background the next president brings, s/he must have an appreciation for — and commitment to — the role of faculty in University governance.
The next president of Penn State must have a vision for applying our Land Grant ideals of teaching, research, and outreach to a modern, global institution.
Finally, in an environment where public funding for higher education is rapidly decreasing and tuition is at record high levels, the next president of Penn State must be a successful fundraiser, capable of securing private support at the highest level to advance institutional priorities.
19. Matthew A. Bird ’80 Eng
The selection of our next president may be the most important in the history of the University. We should look for a leader who will be embraced by the students and alumni with a proven administrative track record, as well as one with a vision toward achieving academic excellence. As I prepared my response to this question, I reviewed initiatives being pursued by other institutions across the country. I was struck by Purdue’s commitment not to raise tuition for the next two years. I believe this type of budgetary restraint should be near the top of the list for priorities of the next president. Therefore, the selected candidate would be one that can critically examine all aspects of the current $4.26 billion University operating budget. With today’s economic climate, families of prospective students are forced to do the same. Penn State would be wise to demonstrate a similar approach. Our rank as one of the most expensive public institutions in the Big Ten and the nation is not one that we should be proud of. Most importantly, the next president should also be mindful and respectful of the rich legacy of achievement enjoyed by Penn State. This legacy is something to be proud of and leveraged for the benefit for our University, students and alumni.
20. Frederik O. Riefkohl ’87 Bus
In order to determine what we are looking for in a president, we first need to understand what the problems and challenges of the university are today and probably will be going forward. These include, but are not limited to:
1. Lack of leadership
2. Financial challenges due to shrinking federal funds allocations and higher cost of education
3. Financial challenges related to the Jerry Sandusky case
4. Lack of trust in the university leadership
5. Lack of transparency to the decision making process of the university
6. Serious deficiency of managing public relations and communications
7. A very large institution with multiple and complex areas of study, operations structures and locations
8. The rapid change in methods of education and the pressures of on-line education Whoever we decide is our next president needs to have the depth and experience to deal with these issues. We will need a leader first and foremost. Someone who all the stakeholders of the university can trust and follow, including: students; their parents; faculty; alumni; local community; funding sources both public and private; and federal and state overseers. The next president should probably need to be a nationally recognized figure or have the capacity to quickly be one. Penn State is now a global institution. Our next president needs to be the definition of “be global but act local.”
21. Mark S. Connolly ’84 PhD Sci
The new President should have several important qualifications. First and foremost, she needs to be an excellent communicator and have the ability to build constructive relationships among several university constituents – the faculty, staff, students, State College residents and the alumni. She needs to accept the BoT as her supervisor, seek guidance from the Board for strategic issues and inform the Board of key issues with University administration. Ideally, the new President should have experience with “crisis” management, and a track record of dealing with crises using sound judgment and a cool head. Finally, the President must be academically strong to have the credibility required and to build trust needed to establish an excellent working relationship with the faculty. It will be incumbent upon the new President to continue the journey to World Class Excellence by recruiting the best faculty and students, and delivering the best infrastructure and services, to enable Penn State to take its rightful place among the elite universities of the country.
22. Barbara L. Doran ’75 Lib
The modern university presidency is an immensely complex job, and nowhere is it more multifaceted and challenging than at Penn State, overseeing 24 campuses, the World Campus, an elite athletics program, and dozens of the world’s leading academic programs. The president of a great university is a talented, artful executive, statesman and visionary. Our next President should come from outside the current Penn State administration to bring a fresh perspective and be beholden to no one. At the same time, that person should be willing to embrace the University’s history and traditions while exhibiting the insight and experience to make changes that advance and integrate teaching, research and service. The president must have the credentials to be respected by faculty, the personality and energy to be embraced by students, the fundraising acumen to connect with donors, the political skills to engage with the legislature and congress, the openness and media savvy to handle the daily challenges of an inquiring public, the acumen to deal with a governing board that has lost credibility with important constituencies, and must have real business skill to resolve the tension between escalating costs and low tolerance for passing those costs on to students and taxpayers—without negatively impacting the academic mission. Our next president should have the capacity and passion to mend fences with key stakeholders. Penn State has had some remarkable leaders who collectively created the foundation for what we have today. I am confident there is another great president in our future.
23. Darlene R. Baker ’80 Sci
Did not respond.
24. Robert J. Hooper ’79 H&HD
An independent thinker but a collaborative and INCLUSIVE worker. It seems that “a” root of the problem we have had over the last few years has been a struggle for power at the executive board level. I clearly want to separate the concept of LEADERSHIP from POWER in this discussion. My review of the functional relationship between board members results in a determination that the quest for power within the executive committee and the executive officers added to the problem rather than facilitated solutions. The evidence of that is clear, demonstrated when they cleaned house using the unproven allegations against three top administrators and a football coach as justification. The next President will need to develop a relationship with ALL board members so as to rely upon the decision making of the full body, and not just the Chair and the selected influential decision makers. We will need a President with a strong background in governance, skilled in mastering the legislative/political process, to address appropriations issues with the legislature.
25. Amy L. Williams ’80 H&HD
STRENGTH INTEGRITY COMPASSION Leadership, ability to manage, and evolve for excellence, a superior communicator. Someone who has vision and can assemble a team of individuals with diverse backgrounds, skill sets and perspectives to strengthen our great University and get us through both good times and challenging times. Someone who has had experience in leading through at least one crisis … successfully. Recognizing that being President is more than just about raising money, but is really about serving … the students, the faculty, the alumni. If he/she takes care of them, the president will succeed and Penn State will thrive! Management Skills: Ability to evolve the administration and communication organizations* from a decentralized model to one that has a centralized hub, yet preserve the character and uniqueness of each group. ?????*Including but not limited to campuses, colleges, majors, interest groups, athletics Not afraid of surrounding themselves with people who are better than them. Understands Higher Learning yet also recognizes we are a $4.1 Billion organization. As a result they need demonstrated business acumen. My hope that at least one qualified woman is on the very short list for this position. So in conclusion key attributes needed in our new President: STRENGTH INTEGRITY COMPASSION
26. Robert N. Grimes ’80 H&HD
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.
27. Jeffrey N. Goldsmith ’82 H&HD
The choice for the next President of Penn State is among the most important issues that will come before the Board of Trustees. First and foremost, the University needs a strong leader. The President should be able to exercise independent judgment when appropriate but also be aware of when the Board should be consulted before taking action. That is a delicate balance but a person who knows how to make that determination will be able to work with the board in an effective manner without being micro managed. We need a President who will be a strong advocate for Penn State. It does not help our reputation as an educational institution, if the face of the University accepts, without question, sanctions that siphon resources and denies young people the opportunity to further their education. A true leader knows how to weigh what is an appropriate response and takes that route, even if it is not the easiest road to follow. We need a President who will engage all of the constituencies of the University; not by setting up public relations speaking tours but by actually listening to and incorporating the constructive recommendations of the various stakeholders. We are a high quality institution with many challenges ahead of us. We need a leader who will carry us forward with pride.
28. David K. Mullaly ’69, ’72 MA Lib
Given the events of the last two years, the selection of the next president of Penn State is the most important university decision in many years. In ascending order of importance, here are some urgent needs:
• Fundraiser: The new president must provide leadership for private fund-raising and financial lobbying at the state and national levels. Penn State’s students and families are being squeezed by higher tuition, and each increase discourages many students from applying to Penn State. More financial aid could provide real relief for many.
• Team Builder: The president must build a team from the components of the Penn State community: the students, the faculty, and the alumni. Students and faculty are the embodiment of a Penn State education, and both need to be appreciated. However, the alumni need to be seen as something more than a steady revenue stream. Alumni can provide value far beyond financial support.
• Chief Executive: The new president must re-assert the authority of the office. The Board of Trustees, which has since November 2011 acted as the sole authority at Penn State, must resume its traditional role: providing governance oversight and final approval on major decisions.
• The Face of Penn State: Finally, the new president must be an appealing and articulate public representative for the university. That will be his or her most important quality. This individual must be a proud and unapologetic advocate for the Penn State that its alumni continue to honor and cherish.
29. Robert P. McKinnon ’90 Com
In eulogizing his brother Bobby, Senator Ted Kennedy said “The future does not belong to those who are content with today, apathetic toward common problems and their fellow man alike, timid and fearful in the face of new ideas and bold projects. Rather it will belong to those who can blend vision, reason and courage in a personal commitment to the ideals and great enterprises of American Society.” Similarly, our future must be placed in the hands of someone who can blend vision, reason and perhaps most importantly courage in their personal commitment to the ideals of our great university. A person who will stand up for her, defend her and chart a course forward that we can all get behind and believe in. A person who reflects the best of us, who understands what Penn State is really all about and who can with pride and persuasion tell the world the true story of our school. To paraphrase a more famous portion of Kennedy’s speech, we need “a good and decent person, who sees wrong and tries to right it, sees suffering and tries to heal it, sees conflict and tries to end it.”
30. Ted J. Sebastianelli ’69 Bus
“For the future that we wait, Raise the song, raise the song.” In my view, selecting Penn State’s next president is the most critical hire in our history. The University has never been under more scrutiny than it is under now. We’ve squandered our treasure and desperately need a president to lead us out of the maelstrom. Penn State has a broad mission of teaching, research, and public service. Our next president must have demonstrated achievement in each of those areas. Penn State needs an educator with a diverse knowledge of classic subjects with good communications skills who has proven leadership abilities, someone capable of weaving that knowledge into everyday learning. We need a true torchbearer, someone capable of setting us apart from other public universities. “There’s a tsunami coming,” said esteemed Stanford President John Hennessy, referring to the mercurial growth of online education. Clearly, distance learning threatens one day to disrupt higher education by reducing the cost of college and by offering the convenience of a stay-at-home education. Penn State needs someone capable of predicting major change or even upheaval in American higher education. Someone who understands the role of president is to ensure future generations have the best possible education so today’s Penn State students can become tomorrow’s leaders in their chosen fields. Finally, our next president must fully support rigorous, aggressive programs of research and philanthropy if Penn State is going to flourish in the coming years.
31. Christopher R. Owens ’06 IST
Penn State should seek a President who is well-versed in dealing with the Commonwealth on matters including funding requests and managing higher education. The President should also be able to think outside the box to address some pressing issues. Large universities, like Penn State, face external pressures from reduced Federal and State funding while trying to compete with smaller and more affordable schools. Online and distant learning has helped institutions operate with reduced overhead and, in turn, reduced costs. In today’s post recession world, young people are more price sensitive to tuition and Penn State is far from a leader in this area. In 2008, when I was searching to enroll in an MBA program, Penn State was the most expensive of all the central PA options. I completed my MBA from Shippensburg University rather than my undergraduate alma mater of Penn State for this very reason. The next President should be capable of moving Penn State forward in the 21st century to reduce the risk of pricing ourselves out of the market. This will take a creative thinker who is able to redefine the role of Penn State to meet the demands of society, while remaining true to Penn State’s agricultural roots.
32. Gregory A. Slachta ’66 Sci
I will address the process and then the person. I agree with the breadth and scope of the process in place. The diversity of the Search and Screen Committee and the members are exceptional individuals. I agree with the Blue & White Vision Council to identify key strategic challenges & opportunities. The addition of an executive search firm will certainly aid in finding candidates that fit our “culture.” Opening the process to PSUnominations@insearch.com is commendable. My only concern is the board’s Penn State Presidential Selection Council, the real decision makers. I have reservations about some members but as long as they follow the recommendations we should have an acceptable candidate. The main challenges are adequate funding of academic endeavors and student tuition. It’s not a new problem. From President Ralph Hetzel, who vowed Penn State would make no commitments without necessary funds, to President Graham Spanier, state funding has been a challenge. Presidents with diverse backgrounds have guided the University’s growth. Electrical engineers, botanists, musicologists, sociologists, and many others rose to the occasion to obtain funding, support academic and research endeavors, and grow our culture. One caveat: There should be no candidate considered from a university that had a member on the current or recent NCAA Executive Committee as the NCAA clearly does not support our culture, and our culture is GOOD.
33. Charles R. Mazzitti ’80 Lib
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.
34. Gregory S. “Sandy” Sanderson ’00 Eng
As the Penn State Board of Trustees searches for the next President of the University, I feel it is important that that the chosen candidate MUST possess three important traits. First, he/she must view Penn State as an academic institution first and foremost. They must fully understand the weight that a Penn State degree carries in the job world, and they must make it their mission to not only maintain, but to grow the quality of a Penn State education. Second, he/she must fully embrace the concept of the corporate chain of command. They must understand that they report to the Board of Trustees without reservation and with complete transparency. Additionally, they must acknowledge that ALL other employees of the University are subordinates of the President and thus he/she is responsible for the conduct, competence, and ultimately the employment status of all those employees. Finally, he/she must be strong in character to act in the best interest of the University at all times without being influenced with concerns of how outsiders perceive the University. At the end of the day, it is his/her job to run Penn State in a manner that is most beneficial to Penn State Students, Alumni, and Employees.
35. Robert C. Jubelirer ’59 Lib, ’62 JD Law
Visibility and a charismatic positive attitude are a must. Not fearing but supporting transparency in everything the university does would go a long way to revitalizing confidence and restore our “mojo” once again. In the beginning of their term there must be extraordinary outreach to all segments of the university including the Commonwealth campuses as well as students, faculty, staff, public officials, alumni and all other who are associated with and love Penn State. In addition, the next president—like all presidents of colleges and Universities—must be an accomplished fundraiser. He or she must have the kind of personality that makes major donors feel comfortable in giving. Recognizing our immediate situation, the new president must immediately impress that he or she is not beholden to or favoring any segment of the Board of Trustees. They must be familiar with our current situation and understand the pain and divisiveness that Penn State nation has suffered, and is still suffering in so many ways. He or she must always keep in mind what is best for the university and not to ideological or special groups. We need a leader who can instill that confidence so that when we say “We are Penn State!” and “We are and always will be” it has real meaning.
36. William F. Oldsey ’76 Lib
The single most important decision the Board will make in the next year is the recruitment and selection of a new President.
That man or woman must have a spotless reputation and unquestionable integrity. He or she should understand both the challenges we currently face and the proud tradition of “Success with Honor” that has helped to make us one of the world’s great universities.
Penn State needs a strong, independent, innovative leader with extensive experience in education (or a closely-related field), government and corporate relations, and fund raising. He or she must be able to articulate and implement an inspiring new vision for Penn State’s future, taking into account the changing economics and digital transformation of Higher Education.
Most importantly, we need a leader who will advocate fiercely for Penn State and defend and champion our world-class brand and reputation in academics, research, and athletics.
37. Patrick J. Howley ’12 H&HD
Due to an email error, Mr. Howley did not receive the invitation to submit responses. We’ll post the response as soon as we receive it.
38. Ryan M. Bagwell ’02 A&A/Com
Now more than ever, the university needs a leader who is committed to implementing the reform that alumni are demanding. Penn State’s next president must possess a deep commitment to transparency of all forms, including providing access to university records, upholding academic freedom and ending Old Main’s culture of secrecy. He or she should have plans to significantly reduce tuition, and a demonstrated ability to foster a university-wide culture of openness and collaboration. Finally, training students to solve the world’s challenges must be at the forefront of the next president’s agenda. He or she must emphasize and expand degree programs that produce workers whose occupations are in demand, like engineering, technology and even agricultural research.
39. Scott T. Kimler ’83 MS EMS
The next president must carefully, but firmly, steer Penn State out of troubled waters.
I have met the Penn State presidential candidates. They are all brilliant and charismatic. Each has a strong academic background and possesses business acumen. They are engaging, warm individuals with good listening skills. They grasp your hand firmly, make eye contact when they speak and are good at remembering names. They enhance the Penn State family feel and embrace University traditions. When they say, “We Are,” it rings true. They are genuine and passionate about Penn State, about lowering tuition, and about promoting our academic and research strengths. They are great fundraisers and effective at increasing State appropriations. They assimilate data rapidly and have an uncanny ability to find ways Penn State can work smarter, saving money. They see the big picture and realize the potential of the World Campus as an integrated learning option. They have strong moral character, they willingly stand up for their beliefs, are honest and have long range focus.
Finding the next president is an important, defining moment in Penn State history and your input is vital. Have you met the next president? If so, nominate them at the Penn State Presidential Search website. Share your thoughts on what you want the next President to accomplish; what qualifications or experience you think are important; personal qualities you would like to see; or places the search firm Isaacson, Miller should look for candidates. Send your suggestions to PSUcomments@IMSearch.com.