Robert J. Tribeck, Ballot Position No. 2

Robert J. Tribeck ’91 Lib
Partner and executive committee member, Rhoads & Sinon LLP
Enola, Pa.

Website | Twitter | LinkedIn

Read Tribeck’s official bio and position statement here. (PDF download.)

Answers to Questions:

1. What do you hope to accomplish in your role as a member of the Board of Trustees over the next three years?

The board has, at times, lost sight of why it exists: to educate our students. The board spends far too little time listening to the concerns facing students today, which include escalating tuition, limitations of student rights, and concerns regarding student housing, just to name a few. Instead of acting to protect their own self-interests, members of the board need to get back to the business of insuring that our students are receiving a world-class, affordable education. An overhaul of the governance of the board is also critical. The board is controlled by a small group who exert their will over the rest, thereby marginalizing the remaining trustees. Additionally, the board must remedy the many errors it has made since 2011. This includes, but is certainly not limited to, a complete denouncement of the now wholly discredited Freeh Report and a proper honor for Coach Joe Paterno. While I am open to all suggestions regarding the proper manner to honor Coach Paterno, such a step is absolutely imperative over the next three years. Finally, the board must mend the incredible divide that exists between the board and the alumni, and within the board itself. Board members who were responsible for, or complicit in, the actions since November 2011 must either resign or fully acknowledge their errors. Only then can the healing begin, as evidenced by a recent poll which showed that over 80% of alumni do not trust the current board.

2. What current trends in higher education do you believe are relevant to Penn State’s future, and why?

Three particular trends are most relevant to Penn State as we move forward. The first is the rapid escalation of tuition costs and a flat or decreasing level of support from the state. As a state-related university, we must take steps to insure that Penn State is and remains affordable without choking our recent graduates with unmanageable debt. We must be willing to explore new ways to stem tuition increases, and move away from reliance on Commonwealth funding. We must find alternate revenue sources, to include a complete review and overhaul of our endowment process. A second trend is the concept of a mobile education. Technology has allowed the world to become, figuratively, much smaller. Penn State is and has been at the forefront of distance-based education and to survive and thrive moving forward, Penn State must continue to embrace the concept of distance learning, mobile education, accelerated degrees, and non-traditional student education. Finally, the concept of accountability has become, and will remain, far more relevant. This includes accountability of faculty and of student outcomes. We must insure that faculty adapt their teaching methods to properly educate the 2015 student, which is far different than how the 1991 student was educated. We must hold faculty accountable for outcomes and, as necessary, retrain faculty to insure continued student success. Likewise, we must be able to substantiate the value of a Penn State education and provide objective criteria by which we judge ourselves in comparison to competing institutions.

3. President Barron has identified six major topic areas for Penn State—areas in which he says great universities strive to excel. How can the board help the university make strides in these areas?

Dr. Barron’s six major topic areas (excellence, student engagement, diversity and demographics, student career success and economic development, accessibility, technology), represent goals for a better Penn State. The board must support those ideals without attempting to micro-manage the university. We must maintain our status as an elite institution without being elitists. We must strive to represent a cross-section of the student pool in Pennsylvania and beyond, including the introduction of alternate methods of student recruitment. We must maintain our position as a top university for corporate recruiters, while at the same time producing the relevant degrees of the future. We must embrace our role as the economic backbone of Pennsylvania and assist in efforts to stem so-called “brain drain” from our state. We must insure that our education is available, from a financial perspective, to the very people who have helped to make Penn State great, through new and diverse means of controlling costs. We must invest the resources, financial and otherwise, to change the way we educate our current and future students. We must take full advantage of the incredible resource that the Commonwealth Campus system presents, and change the way we view and market those campuses. For students who are seeking a world-class education in a smaller environment, our Commonwealth Campuses can be a vibrant, thriving alternative to far more costly private institutions, but we must invest the necessary resources in those campuses to foster the needed growth.


Return to “Board of Trustees Election 2015” page

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