Amy L. Williams, Ballot Position No. 9

Williams AmyAmy L. Williams ’80 H&HD

Managing director
SageWorks Rx
Wayne, Pa.

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

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1. Describe how you think the relationship between the Board of Trustees and the university president should function.

The board needs to be a functional and transparent team so as to provide stability and clear direction and leadership to the president. Currently they are not. The board should provide strategy, leadership and a culture of trust and civility so the President can effectively do his job. They will need to work with him to identify short-term and long-term goals for Penn State, and identify what he needs to accomplish these goals. Once the needs are identified, the board should “clear the path” and provide him with what he needs to accomplish these goals. At this point they should get out of his way and allow him to do his job. Of course there should always be checks and balances, metrics and timely updates so that effective tracking of attainment of goals is in place and any course corrections can be implemented as needed. But first and foremost, they need to become a functional board.

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?

The No. 1 priority of the Board of Trustees at this time is to become a functional team. They are not. To that end, the board needs to reconcile their past before they can truly move forward. This includes, but is not limited to, the legacy of Joe Paterno. Regardless of which side of the aisle a board member is on regarding the Paterno legacy, or any other issue, as leaders, egos need to be put aside and the good of the University placed first and foremost. To say we need to move forward without reconciling our past is myopic, bad business and not in the best interest of our great University. Once this dysfunction is fixed and Penn State has a board whose members TRULY trust one another and are fully transparent with each other, then the healing process will begin. At that time we can begin to recover from the Sandusky scandal from the inside out. It is not until we fix ourselves on the inside will others be able to see who we truly are from the outside.

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?

The overall fiscal challenge is how to effectively manage the cost of running a large University with a $4.45 billion annual budget and yet keep tuition at a price point which balances affordability with value. In doing so it is important to support our land-grant status and legacy. Penn State was founded when only the very rich could attend college. When we received our land grant, it was to provide affordable college educations to Pennsylvanians who would not normally have the luxury of a college education. Although I fully support being a public University, it is clear we cannot count on commonwealth appropriations. (Currently appropriations are down to ~ 6 percent of our total annual budget). Constantly raising tuition is an archaic and non-innovative approach to meeting budgetary goals. Additionally it is not sustainable and is against our own land-grant legacy. Therefore it is critical we focus on Operational Excellence and how to identify and rank initiatives of true strategic value. In my involvement with the runnings of various branches of the University and listening to PSU Board meetings, I am convinced there are meaningful efficiencies which can be realized. By effectively developing, refining and strengthening key areas of operations (e.g. communications, governance, real estate investment and maintenance), we will be able to effectively identify duplication of efforts and areas of efficiencies which can help to ultimately fund all initiatives of strategic value. The student should be at the heart of every fiscal spend, decision and program.

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