Gregory A. Slachta, Ballot Position No. 32

SlachtaGregory A. Slachta ’66 Sci
Retired urologic surgeon
Ridgeland, S.C.

Read Slachta’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?

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 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.

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.

An important tenet of the medical profession is to “do no harm.” There was human failure and lack of common sense with poor timing and method in the firing of JVP; human failure in the hiring and adoption of the infamous “Freeh Report”; and human failure in the continued defensive attitude, lack of transparency, and uncivil behavior of individuals. However, it is a systems (governance) failure that has allowed this to occur. In this limited format, I have reviewed the Faculty Senate Special Report on Governance, the former Auditor General’s Report, and the many concerned alumni assessments. I support efforts that decentralize power from the Executive Committee, increase education of the entire Board before meetings, and reduce the size of the Board. The only state representatives would be the current elected Secretaries. The Governor and President should be ex officio, without voting privileges. I support two faculty members elected by the Faculty Senate to the Board. The current non-elected members would be reduced in number and subject to election by their organizations as the current alumni representatives are elected. A quorum should require 50 percent of the members present. Board rules are important but transparency of votes and allowing information to be disseminated by individual members to alumni and faculty is essential.

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?

First, let me say it is the role of a trustee. The question assigns a separate status to those trustees elected by the alumni versus those nominated by the Board itself. There should not be such a dichotomy. The role of any trustee is to support the Mission Statement of The Pennsylvania State University. Each trustee has the responsibility to further the university’s academics, research and yes, athletics. Actions that support these facets of Penn State enhance the degree and contribute to the “Penn State Proud” that our alumni, faculty and students value. The responsibility goes beyond this. Each Trustee is must take actions that acknowledge the belief that our core value is “Success with Honor” and in the process remember what our alma mater says: “may no act of ours bring shame.” All trustees are responsible to the alumni, and I would approach my term to support actions that demonstrate truth, fairness, and honor in dealing with our past, present, and future endeavors. I will not support “Move On” but “Move Forward” with complete transparency of board actions. I believe our governance and rules of the board need continued review and change to accomplish the transparency I would seek. I will support and practice civility on the board. I will challenge arrogance and lack of integrity on the board. After all, We Are!

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2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Baron Ginnetti  |  April 5, 2013 at 6:23 pm

    The issues PSU faces today are directly attributable to leadership. Dr. Slachta is right on with the human failures that have become divisive in our great University. Transparency is essential but will only occur with individuals working under good leadership and process. We may not be able to rectify past actions but PSU must move forward. The University owes it to the students (current and future) who have chosen to be part of this great institution.

  • 2. Jennifer Lang  |  April 11, 2013 at 9:01 pm

    Dr. Slachta is on target with his assessment of what we need to move forward. Trustees need to remember who they represent and transparency is paramount.

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