Ned Rauch-Mannino, Ballot Position No. 2
Government relations specialist
Ridge Policy Group
Read Rauch-Mannino’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.
Board members, especially those appointed by alumni, must be the strongest advocates for alumni issues and concerns to the president. This means providing an accessible means of communication for alumni and availability to respond to community members’ questions. The president needs to respect this role and recognize it as an opportunity to better reflect and accommodate alumni needs. At-large, the Board of Trustees must increase its communication to the president to support the relationship, and members are ultimately responsible for their individual effort in reaching out to and establishing a relationship with University leadership. The Board should be proactive in monitoring and reviewing the president’s performance. Members also must be unafraid to hold the president accountable or raise concerns; with constant dialogue between the two, such instances will be less contentious and instead serve as constructive criticism. I would also want the president to approach the Board as a partner, such as seeking assistance with messaging off-campus and to key, global figures, and for aligning resources to University initiatives. The president not only should be keeping the Board informed of capital campaigns and other fundraising initiatives, he should challenge Board members to be active, visible participants. The Board can assist the president’s programming and better serve these initiatives by motivating others throughout the community and elsewhere. Being a Board member is more than a ceremonial position or soapbox: it’s a role to serve, and, when appropriate, the president can provide insight on what that service can look like.
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 know the importance of communication to the Penn State community: Our network of support is enhanced by greater communication with leadership, across campuses, and between generations of alumni. The Board must increase its role in ensuring greater communication is afforded to the community, and, specifically, I would ensure the Board itself is a better participant. As Penn State looks to move forward and discuss reform, I realize ideas change from one group of stakeholders to another, and the community at-large is without a unified vision for reform–or a secure, transparent medium to foster one. In partnership with members throughout the Penn State community I would establish and facilitate this forum for dialogue. This effort cannot be accomplished by the Board alone and can only be served by representatives from all Penn State constituencies. Creating a formal, accessible space for all to contribute to and monitor the conversation will best find progress a reality, and motivate the healing process beyond the demand for blind revenge and instead toward tangible outcomes. Finally, we need to recognize that part of this healing process takes place off-campus, as Penn State is challenged with rebuilding its reputation throughout Pennsylvania and the nation. Infighting solves nothing, and the Board must become a visibly collaborative partner. I would also work to increase messaging focusing on not what has happened to Penn State, but what is happening at Penn State: We have world-class research and medical facilities, soaring academic programs, and the nation’s greatest alumni.
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?
There should be no greater concern for any university than affordability. Students face tuition uncertainty given economy trends and state budget constraints due to pension costs, corrections and other issues: Today, Harrisburg and federal support account for merely 14 percent of the University’s general funds budget, whereas appropriations represented more than 30 percent of the general funds budget in 2000, 40 percent in 1985, and 60 percent in 1975. First, we need to better protect appropriations in Harrisburg, and second, we must smartly advocate for and identify increased federal and other financial resources. Third, the Board of Trustees absolutely must take a greater role in institutional advancement. Board members need to be engaging philanthropic voices and foundations, and to best empower this effort Penn State needs to restore its reputation nationally and highlight the service it provides Pennsylvania and higher education at-large. Tuition continues to account for more and more of Penn State’s budget, climbing from 32 percent of the general funds budget to 79 percent in 2013-2014: The University is depending too much on tuition increases to maintain its operations. This spoils one of the University’s greatest advantages, and will box out generations of prospective students without action. To support any action, the University should formally investigate where tuition is likely to rise to during the next five, ten and fifteen years and plan accordingly to stem increases. Funding requests and fundraising initiatives today can be positioned to protect students’ access to a quality, affordable Penn State education tomorrow.