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Penn State Board of Trustees Candidates Make Their Case

by on April 01, 2014 6:00 AM

As the election approaches for three seats on the Penn State Board of Trustees, StateCollege.com is highlighting each candidate over the course of five days.

There are 31 candidates seeking three vacant seats on the board. Voting begins April 10. Winners will be announced May 9.

StateCollege.com contacted each candidate requesting a response to two open-ended questions with a 250 word limit to each question. Candidates are featured in alphabetical order.

This is the second installment. View candidates featured on Day 1, HERE.

Daniel N. Cocco, '08, Com, consultant, PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, New York, N.Y.

List your top three priorities if elected, or re-elected, to the board and explain why they would be your priorities.

Penn State University is leading the way in the areas of academics, research, service, and athletics. However, universities are facing greater obstacles than ever before and the Board of Trustees has a responsibility to find solutions. The future is bright and Penn State needs to keep moving forward by putting students first.

1. Offer accessible and affordable word class education: Put a Penn State education within reach for aspiring students by advocating for increased state funding, controlling budgets directly impacting the cost of tuition, promoting the Commonwealth Campuses, and committing to the expansion of the World Campus.

2. Promote the best of Penn State: Consistently ranked as one of the top 50 universities in the world, Penn State is a leader in academics, service to the community, and faculty achievements. The University should work to better highlight these accomplishments to attract top students, faculty, and staff to our campuses.

3. Build stronger relationships and unite Penn Staters: Explore ways for greater student, administration, faculty, staff, and alumni collaboration to achieve common goals and milestones. Partner with the Penn State Alumni Association to find new opportunities for promoting local and regional organizations and interest groups in order to build an even stronger alumni network.

There are 31 candidates vying for three seats on the board, explain what makes you the most qualified candidate?

As a Trustee I will work to ensure the promise of a world-class education is continued and that the core mission of our University is fulfilled. I have proven the ability to work with leaders from all Penn State campuses to achieve common goals. As Overall Chairperson for Penn State Dance Marathon in 2008, I was honored to play an integral role in one of Penn State's greatest traditions, working with students, alumni, and leadership toward the goal of ending childhood cancer. I also worked with administrators and staff of Penn State's Children's Hospital to plan programs that benefited Pennsylvania families.

I would add a unique perspective and insight gained from experience in business, higher education, and non-profit organizations. Currently, I help companies address today's business challenges as a consultant with PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP. Prior to PwC, I worked with alumni of Columbia University in the role of Assistant Director, Office of Alumni & Development while completing a Master of Science in Fundraising Management. Earning my Penn State degree and my experience leading THON are defining moments in my life. I want the same opportunities for current and future students.

Learn more about the candidate HERE.

Joshua D. Fulmer, '01, Lib, partner, Lauer & Fulmer, P.C., Easton, Pa.

List your top three priorities if elected, or re-elected, to the board and explain why they would be your priorities.

1. Providing Pennsylvania residents with a world-class, affordable education. This is our primary responsibility to our students, and will be the main criteria that guides every decision I make.

2. I believe the board has an obligation to carefully review the actions of past administrators and the board, both before and after the Sandusky scandal became public, in order determine where mistakes were made. We can not move forward without learning from our mistakes and finding a way to ensure we do not repeat them.

3. Promoting the incredible opportunities that Penn State provides its alumni. Penn State provides an education that ranks among the best available anywhere in the world. We need to market the University as being much more than just another "state school."

There are 31 candidates vying for three seats on the board, explain what makes you the most qualified candidate?

I believe my experience as a criminal defense attorney provides me with the tools necessary to negotiate through the toughest circumstances to reach the best possible outcome.

I further believe my youth provides me with a connection to the current students that allows me to understand what is important to them and what will provide the best all around college experience.

Learn more about the candidate HERE.

Rudolph Karl Glocker, '91, '93g, Lib, managing partner, Pediped Footwear, Henderson, Nev.

List your top three priorities if elected, or re-elected, to the board and explain why they would be your priorities.

My top three priorities when I serve on the Board of trustees will be:

1. Ensure Penn State Dominates the online degree granting educational landscape through World Campus

2. Enacting strong fiscal spending and prioritization policies

3. Relentlessly pursuing the truth about the Sandusky scandal

The foundational sands of higher education have shifted. Already almost 10% of University Park undergraduates are taking an online class – and this will continue to grow. Penn State is the clear leader, but we cannot take this for granted. We are in a fiercely competitive market and we need to grow our advantage.

Penn State needs to recognize that buildings are not just assets, they are also long-term maintenance liabilities. A $100MM building costs an additional $160MM in maintenance costs over a 40 year time period.

Penn State has the power to control tuition costs and recognizing the true cost of capital projects is one lever. Lower capital costs will allow Penn State to invest more in teaching and research and keep tuition in line with inflation.

The false narrative created by the Freeh report, the NCAA sanctions and the tacit acceptance of both by the Board of Trustees has unjustly marred Penn State. Until Penn State refutes this false narrative, it will not be able to move forward. The truth matters and we need to discover it.

There are 31 candidates vying for three seats on the board, explain what makes you the most qualified candidate?

My candidacy is differentiated and superior to others because I understand and have direct experience and a track record of success in critical matters facing Penn State: online education, fiscal restraint and the pursuit of truth in the Sandusky scandal.

During my service on the Penn State Outreach and online Education Advisory Board I have come to understand World Campus and the institutional barriers that must be broken to insure its continued dominance. My company, pediped footwear, competes online against the top companies in the world. We find ways to drive distinction and appeal to a growing breed of empowered, discerning customers. I will help Penn State do the same while moving the University toward an optimal blend of traditional and non-traditional learning.

Fiscal constraint is critical to Penn State's future. I have accomplished this without sacrificing quality. In my role on the Board of Trustees at the Aloha Foundation, an educational non-profit in Vermont, I drafted a policy creating a maintenance endowment to lessen the future burden of capital projects. We have also kept the cost of tuition in line with inflation over the past three years.

We need to find the whole truth of the Sandusky scandal. I co-authored a critique of the Freeh report with Franco Harris and Christian Marrone entitled "A Rush to Judgment" to start this process 20 months ago. I will continue this quest on the Board.

I will bring this track record of results and success to the Board of Trustees.

Learn more about the candidate HERE.

John J. Graham, Jr., '99, Lib, general counsel, Great Valley Publishing Co., Philadelphia, Pa.

List your top three priorities if elected, or re-elected, to the board and explain why they would be your priorities.

The following are my top three priorities if elected:

1. Improve the relationship between the board and the alumni: The most recent Alumni Association Alumni Opinion Survey, and accompanying updates, demonstrates that work still remains to repair the relationship between the board and the alumni. If elected, my top priority will be to repair that relationship by bringing the voice of the alumni to the board by way of my plan for transparency.

2. Highlight all Penn State campuses: The university's 24 campuses are a tremendous asset that can be more actively utilized to engage alumni and local communities. Significant achievements in academics, research and athletics are occurring on each of Penn State's campuses. By highlighting and promoting these achievements, the university can (i) elevate the Penn State system as a whole and (ii) engage local alumni and promote a statewide community drawing from our shared Penn State experience.

3. Focus on fundraising: Penn State faces numerous fiscal challenges including costs associated with the Sandusky scandal, pullbacks in Commonwealth funding, and possible federal financial aid and tuition reform. Because of these fiscal challenges, fundraising, which is traditionally one of the university's strengths, becomes even more important. It is the duty of trustees to devote a material amount of time to fundraising. If elected, I will utilize my skills in fundraising and management of development projects to provide strategies for engaging deeper giving support.

There are 31 candidates vying for three seats on the board, explain what makes you the most qualified candidate?

The slate of candidates lists many qualified individuals, including several who have demonstrated a deep commitment to the university through undergraduate volunteer work. What sets me apart from the other candidates is my commitment to being the voice of the alumni on the board.

If elected, my primary function will be to improve the relationship between the board and the alumni by serving as a conduit of information. I have developed a strategy for engaging alumni to share their opinions regarding issues facing the university. This strategy is efficient and can be conducted in a manner that will allow me to communicate data about alumni sentiment in real time. I am prepared to enact this strategy, at my own cost, beginning on my first day of service – thereby creating a concrete measure of transparency and accountability.

Any Penn Stater can be included in this strategy by submitting his or her contact information at Graham4PSU.com.

As an undergraduate, I was a member of Lion Ambassadors and served as the group's Director of Internal Relations; was President of Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity; served as a student representative to the University Conduct Board (then the University Hearing Board); and was elected to USG as a Town Senator. As a trustee, I will bring the same level of commitment and will tirelessly work to maximize the transfer of information between alumni and board, as well as for the advancement of the university.

Learn more about the candidate HERE.

Art Greenwald, '76, Lib, free-lance writer/journalist/author, mental health and addictions therapist, Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

 List your top three priorities if elected, or re-elected, to the board and explain why they would be your priorities.

 1. BOT governance reform

2. Assist the university and the PSU community in healing and moving forward.

3. Continue passionate participation in honoring Joe Paterno.

Since 11/09/11, the BOT has lost touch with its students, faculty, boosters and alumni. They simply no longer represent the interests, wants and needs of our university. If elected, I will work tirelessly to change the dysfunctional BOT culture, promote openness and accountability and work to unite competing factions. I will push for free and equal expression and demand transparency. And, I will mobilize our alumni base and strive to give all a stronger, more inclusive voice in the governance process.

Secondly, I believe that we cannot heal and move on till that elusive truth is fully told about the Sandusky scandal and its aftermath and we must fervently persist in pursuing it. More questions than answers remain, falsehoods, distortions and misinformation abound and they must be confronted and challenged, including the Freeh Report and the NCAA Consent Decree. We must correct the mistakes of the past and demand justice and due process for all, however long it takes. 

Thirdly, but equally important, it would be unconscionable and do irreparable damage to the soul of Penn State not to honor Joe Paterno. Given the overwhelming alumni support, true healing and restoring pride demands it. In 2012, I joined the Paterno Field Project and will continue to devote countless hours in efforts to honor him for his considerable contributions and 61 years of outstanding service.

There are 31 candidates vying for three seats on the board, explain what makes you the most qualified candidate?

 I am not a CEO, a Wall Street banker, a Fortune 500 businessman or a politician with cozy ties who will sweet-talk you. And, I have never donated a million dollars to Penn State.

What I do possess is an enduring love and passion for PSU and a heartfelt desire to work hard and fight tirelessly to restore pride, dignity and honor to our great university.

Of course that's not enough; neither are high-priced, slick ad campaigns with canned messages and endorsements, all of which tells you nothing about the real person. So voters must determine their own criteria for deciding.

My background, education and experience as a writer/journalist/therapist makes me uniquely qualified and sets me apart from the customary candidate.

Being an effective BOT demands the kind of communications, crisis-management- intervention skills that I possess. Knowing how to identify, assess and problem-solve, ask difficult and germane questions, confront and challenge, deal with the media, other BOT's, the administration and the public is of supreme importance, all requiring the people-counseling skills I have demonstrated over the years.

Building bridges, creating liaisons and finding common ground on complex issues between the alumni and the BOT is as important as strategizing on cost-control, especially after the chaos created since 11/09/11. Having worked with all types of people with varying levels of experience, backgrounds and personalities, I know how to bring people together, how to speak out intelligently against injustice and get to the truths we've been denied.

It's high time for change.

Learn more about the candidate HERE.

Robert Hooper, '79, H&HD, member, Vermont Pension Investment Committee, Burlington, Vt.

List your top three priorities if elected, or re-elected, to the board and explain why they would be your priorities.

The students and community under her wings share the fiscal challenges of Penn State.

I fear our ever-increasing tuition structure drives far too many outstanding minds to other institutions. From the World Campus to the student entering a branch campus for a certificate, tuition and expenses are a driving force when selecting a college. Tuition costs must be brought under control.

Additionally, I am concerned that the ratio of tenured to adjunct faculty could be slipping in the wrong direction due to financial pressures. Faculty migrating to other opportunities offering tenure negatively impacts the stability and quality of instruction.

Research funding finds an ever-expanding number of foreign academic programs in which to invest their dollars.

Penn State must maintain a reputation of excellence and academic leadership, which will draw back the corporate dollar.

The state legislature holds the key to tuition cost containment.

As a Board member, I would propose a "Legislative Summit for Penn State," where we would gather trustees and critical stakeholders together in Harrisburg to meet with legislative leaders individually and visit committees of jurisdiction to fight for proper funding.

Additionally, establish a formal lobby day for concerned alumni and friends of Penn State, to reach out to their local legislators and place local voter pressure on the legislature.

The key to a bright future for Penn State is directly associated with an increase in state funding of the programs provided by the University. As a former registered lobbyist, I will make this a personal agenda item.

There are 31 candidates vying for three seats on the board, explain what makes you the most qualified candidate?

For an ALUMNI seat, as much what I am NOT, as what I am!

Like most alumni, I graduated and took my educational experience into the working world. I acquired diverse but relevant experience that I would bring to the position of Trustee to accomplish the goals PSU needs "right now!"

-As a 30-year employee in Child Protective Services as a Social Worker and Probation officer, I learned to make systems work.

-As a five term President and Board Chair (and 20 year executive officer) of the Vermont State Employees' Association, I spent ten years managing board activity.

-As a registered lobbyist, I influence legislative change at both the state and federal level.

-As a political party executive committee member and county chair, I learned the political process-what makes politics work for US.

-As a 15-year member of the Vermont Pension Investment Committee, (we manage the allocation of $3.7 billion in state pension funds) I learned financial management.

-As an appointee to several gubernatorial commissions, I learned the details of the working of government.

My experience is broad and my dedication to our University is deep.

My concern is, we Alumni have been urged to elect essentially Business and Industry candidates, and that "regular old Alumni" –not captains of industry, bankers, doctors, lawyers, etc, are not filling our seats.

If we want to see decisions from the Board that reflect our values, we need to have people in those seats that share those values and experiences.

I would welcome your questions HERE or on Facebook. Thank you.

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Jennifer Miller is a reporter for StateCollege.com. She has worked in journalism since 2005. She's covered news at the local, state and national level with an emphasis on crime and local government.
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