Vincent J. Tedesco III, Ballot Position No. 16
Retired U.S. Army officer
Defense industry consultant
Read Tedesco’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.
The root cause of our recent tribulations is the unchecked and unhealthy concentration of power in the hands of the Chairman of the Board of Trustees, the Board’s Executive Committee, and the University President. Thus, reforming the governance of Penn State should be our highest priority. We must re-establish appropriate checks and balances and make our governance more transparent and accountable. We cannot afford to have “country club” Trustees who simply rubber stamp decisions made in secret by a cabal of the Executive Committee, the Chairman, and the President. An effective Board actively exercises its stewardship and fiduciary responsibilities. It provides strategic direction, approves policies and provides oversight of the university’s administration. The power of the Board’s Chairman and Executive Committee should be carefully limited to ensure that they do not wield unchecked control over the Board and the University as they currently do. The University President should manage day-to-day operations and serve as Penn State’s public face. He develops and implements plans that achieve strategic goals and implements policies established by the Board. As Dr. Eric Barron assumes his duties, it is critical that the Board re-establish this right and proper relationship. Finally, transparency cannot exist only when it is convenient for the Trustees and its Administration. With modest changes to address legitimate concerns about research and other proprietary matters, the University must be included and be fully compliant with Pennsylvania’s Sunshine and Ethics Acts, its Right-to-Know Law and embrace systemic transparency in all its activities.
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?
Our community was deeply wounded by the Sandusky Scandal and no amount of wishing it away or “moving on” will change that situation. Regrettably, the current Board and University leadership seem intent on such an approach, giving us the appearance of reform but little substance. Healing our community requires better leadership and a systematic approach to truth and reconciliation. This means empowering a panel representing the entire community with the authority and responsibility to investigate every aspect of the scandal and the university’s response. Through public hearings, the panel must listen to all parties, weigh the evidence, and arrive at an objective, consensus understanding of the truth. Individuals must be incentivized to participate in our truth and reconciliation process. Though not a judicial review, the panel must have the authority to acknowledge penance and grant amnesty to those parties who have not lived up to our community’s standards and expectations. With the truth established, the community can heal through structured discourse and dialogue. Finally, many of us will never be fully reconciled until we see Coach Paterno’s lifetime of service and philanthropy to the University given significant and lasting recognition. His treatment at the hands of the Board of Trustees since November 2011 has been reprehensible and is a stain on our collective honor that must be erased. I will work with similarly minded members of the Board and the Penn State community to ensure that JoePa’s legacy of “Success with Honor” is appropriately commemorated and celebrated.
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?
As I currently understand things, there are two major fiscal challenges facing Penn State. Tuition control is first and foremost. Declining state appropriations and rising costs have driven tuition up to the point that the working families of Pennsylvania struggle to afford an education at the Commonwealth’s best university. As education is critical to the health of our democracy and the economic vitality of the state, it is critical that the Trustees of the Pennsylvania State University partner with like-minded parties to control costs and increase state appropriations. The latter is particularly important as between 1970 and 2013, the Commonwealth’s contribution to Penn State’s annual operating budget fell from 62 to 14 percent. Pennsylvania should and must do more. Second and despite the need to control costs, Penn State must have the resources required to attract and retain world-class faculty and then give them the facilities and support they need for teaching and research. The “For the Future Campaign” ends in April and we will require a new major campaign to propel us forward. Likewise, with federal support for research declining, Penn State must be both more aggressive and more effective in its efforts to secure both government and corporate funding.