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Group of Former Alumni Leaders Endorses Penn State Board of Trustees Candidates

by on March 04, 2014 2:00 PM

A group led by former Penn State Alumni Association presidents has endorsed three candidates for the Board of Trustees.

The Upward State steering committee includes former alumni association presidents Tom Hollander, Jim Carnes and David Han.

The committee also includes Rick and Tracy Riegel, parents of two current Penn State students; 2004 alumna Tara Merry; and two current Penn State student leaders, seniors Maggie Harding and Jordan Harris.

"The endorsed candidates all share the Upward State philosophy that, now more than ever, Penn State needs a Board of Trustees that will focus on Penn State's future, and do so with a firm and unified vision of optimism and excellence," the group said in a statement Tuesday.

The endorsed candidates are:

Dan Cocco, class of 2008

  • Penn State's Overall THON Chair in 2008
  • Office of Alumni & Development at Columbia University where he earned his master's degree
  • Currently a management consultant at PricewaterhouseCoopers

Julie Harris McHugh, class of 1986

  • 27-year veteran of the biopharmaceutical industry
  • Former Company Group Chairman at Johnson & Johnson
  • Volunteers on Board of Visitors, Smeal College of Business

Matt Schuyler, class of 1987

  • Chief Human Resources Officer for Hilton Worldwide; named 2012 top U.S. HR professional
  • 2013 Penn State Alumni Fellow
  • Volunteers on Board of Visitors, Smeal College of Business; College of IST; School of Hospitality Management

The group says the board's top priority should be making education more affordable and accessible.

"This upcoming election of alumni trustees is absolutely critical to Penn State's future, and Upward State is excited to support three candidates whom we believe will put students like me first by fighting for things such as more scholarship aid, lower tuition and recruiting and retaining outstanding faculty," said Harding, a student-athlete and member of the Schreyer Honors College.

Other priorities the group says the board should follow include: improving academics by recruiting strong faculty, expanding learning opportunities and enhancing research. The group also says the board should acknowledge former Penn State head football coach Joe Paterno's "significant role in building Penn State's legacy of academic and athletic excellence."

Additionally, the group calls for an increase in transparency in the board's decisions as well as a permanent student trustee position elected by students.

"Upward State and our three endorsed candidates all agree this year's election must focus on Penn State's future – not our immediate past," Carnes said in a prepared statement. "Like other public universities, Penn State operates in a challenging environment of rising costs, shrinking state support and competitive ways to deliver education online. As the university continues to deal with the after-effects of the 2011 crisis, it is so important our trustees keep their eye on the ball – and that is ensuring students continue to have access to a world-class education from Penn State, the school we all love."

There are 32 candidates vying for three open seats. Voting opens April 10. Winners will be announced May 9.

To learn more about Upward State visit the group's website by clicking HERE.




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