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Penn State Board of Trustees Candidates Make Their Case

by on April 03, 2014 6:45 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 fourth installment. View candidates featured on Day 1, HERE. View candidates featured on Day 2, HERE. View candidates featured on Day 3, HERE.

Robert G. Milnes, III, '02, Eng, senior engineer, Westinghouse Electric Co., Sewickley, Pa.

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

1. Leadership transition ‐ after going through a period of immense change followed by a long period of temporary leadership, Penn State will have to adapt to new leadership and the accompanying change. The Board's most direct interface with the University is through the President. Establishing a good working relationship is paramount. The role of the Board should be to see that Penn State focuses on high academic standards and providing value to the Commonwealth. The President is responsible for the goals and methods to achieve those ideals, such as providing facilities, attracting and retaining students and marketing directions (to name a few). The Board and the President must work together and be aware of the details of the overall plan so that both can be successful.

2. Controlling cost ‐ Help to contain tuition and room & board expenses to make PSU the first choice for in‐state students by managing the University budget. A fresh and comprehensive review of the current budget and expenditures is necessary to rule out waste and maintain that the University is running as efficiently as possible. In addition, Penn State must create and implement innovative technologies that are long term wins for both the environment and our budgets.

3. See Penn State improve its communication so that the all Pennsylvanians know exactly how much economic benefit PSU provides to the commonwealth and so that the world knows exactly what Penn State culture is really about.

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

I am passionate about Penn State. My Penn State education has opened many doors for me. I would like to share that experience with others. I was selected for the Centre Daily Times' Fan of the Game. I am a football season ticket holder and have thrown tailgates that have won the alumni tailgating competition. I am a Life Member of the Alumni Association and a member the Pittsburgh Chapter of the Alumni Association.

I am educated in engineering and business. These skill sets help me to analyze facts and make sound business decisions. It would be a great honor to be a Trustee for this great University.

I am an Eagle Scout. I earned Scouting's highest rank as the culmination of many years of Scouting. This required me to live up to the scout motto and "Be Prepared" to plan and lead camping, hiking and biking trips. I also learned to be trustworthy, which I later used as a work skill to get and maintain DoD Security Clearances.

Learn more about this candidate HERE.

Joel N. Myers, '61, '63g, '71g, EMS, founder, president and chairman of the board, AccuWeather Inc., State College, Pa.

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

PSU will come under increasing pressure in the years ahead in ways people may not expect.

The pace of rising tuition is unsustainable, and governmental loans and grants to students used to pay some of these costs will not continue to accelerate in the future. At the same time, tuition costs are eclipsing some family's ability to pay. While we cannot expect the cost of a PSU education – one of the very best in the nation - to become inexpensive, we must use responsible stewardship in slowing this increase, securing better funding sources for our students, and providing alternative ways to secure the PSU experience.

Second, PSU needs to continue leading in the area of online digital education and accelerating use of digital media in the classroom - things I have championed during my time on the board. The future of education and PSU will be found in the digital realm, and we need to continue to accelerate progress in this area. Digital is also a pathway to reducing costs.

Third, societal change is accelerating and educational needs and job requirements are changing faster than ever, because of the internet, mobile access, robots, 3D printing, and a host of new developments. These are the positive changes I will continue to focus the Board and the Administration on.

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

The PSU President and BOT need to focus on what is best for the future of PSU and our students. Our Board has a huge responsibility in that it is ultimately responsible for the education of 100,000 students, the $850 M research operation, 24 campuses, the medical school, the law school, over 1,200 clubs and activities, intercollegiate athletics with 31 sports, a high quality faculty, productive staff, the physical plant, the endowment, the dormitories, and food service. It is important that Board members be knowledgeable and able to intelligently inquire about these activities.

I want to serve one last term to help PSU during this time of transition in the Board and Administration. It is likely that in June we will only have 8 or 9 Board members out of the 30 who have served for more than 3 years. This is probably the most rapid and greatest turnover in the Board at PSU in the last 100 years and coming during a time of a new administration presents potential challenges if not handled properly.

Combining this turnover with the dramatic transformations occurring in higher education because of the accelerating role of digital media, online learning, tuition outpacing the ability for many to pay, and many other challenges facing PSU, calls for a strong continuity of leadership. The experience, institutional knowledge and mentoring of new trustees that I can provide will be critical. That is why I believe it is in Penn State's interest that I serve one final term.

Learn more about this candidate HERE.

Alice W. Pope, '79, '83g, '86g, Lib, associate professor of psychology, St. John's University, Brooklyn, N.Y.

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

If elected, I will:
1. Create world-class governance that is inclusive, collaborative, transparent, and ethical, featuring the best practices of educational governance. The board must work collaboratively with the new president to maintain and enhance Penn State's reputation for excellence in teaching, research, outreach, and public service.

2. Lead effective long range planning so that Penn State is positioned to thrive in the rapidly changing environment of higher education. We will find creative strategies for approaching the challenges of decreased state funding, rising costs, and declining numbers of college-age students in Pennsylvania and beyond. We must maintain our mission as a land grant university dedicated to providing an affordable, high- quality education to all the daughters and sons of the Commonwealth.

3. Repair the damage caused by the Sandusky scandal and its aftermath. We must evaluate the validity of the Freeh report and use the results to contest the NCAA sanctions and to restore the reputation of our university. We need a clear understanding of the chain of events surrounding Sandusky. We will conduct a national search for a permanent Athletic Director. We will find appropriate ways to honor the contributions of Joe Paterno and his family.

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

I have established a record of thoughtful, principled, and constructive activism in response to the Sandusky crisis:

I have written 11 opinion pieces which have been published in Pennsylvania newspapers. This has made me a recognized voice of alumni concerned with promoting effective governance and with responding to the weaknesses of the Freeh report. I have formed effective working relationships with several Pennsylvania senators who support PSU board reform.I have regularly attended committee and full PSU board meetings. I have frequently engaged with trustees and I understand the current issues under examination by the board. I am ready to step into this role.

I have gained recognition for my reform work, including endorsements from four PSU trustees and Penn Staters for Responsible Stewardship. The Association of College Trustees and Academics praised my work to promote governance reform: "Alice Pope, a Penn State alumna, brings a refreshing perspective by raising issues of transparency that are important to Penn State....Reform-minded candidates such as Pope deserve credit for their willingness to stand up and demand more of their alma mater. They represent a growing movement of alumni who wish to put students back at the center of education and recognize the importance of accountability in higher education."

I am a university professor with over 25 years of experience and three degrees from Penn State. There are no active faculty on the PSU board; an informed perspective on higher education is sorely needed.

Learn more about this candidate HERE.

Ned Rauch-Mannino, '10, Agr, government relations specialist, Ridge Policy Group, Washington, D.C.

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

So much of the University community wants leadership reform, but ideas change from one group of stakeholders to another, and the community at-large is without a unified vision for reform—or a secure, transparent medium to foster the development of one. In partnership with members throughout the Penn State community I would establish and facilitate this forum for dialogue. It needs to extend beyond Facebook pages and opinionated e-mail blasts, and cannot be accomplished by the Board alone: we need to create a formal space for members to contribute to and monitor the conversation regarding reform to best find it a reality.

Second, I will start discussions on and the study of what is necessary to maintain an affordable tuition rate for five, ten, and fifteen years into the future. This is imperative, as college budgets are constantly and urgently forced to respond to present conditions. One of Penn State's chief advantages is its affordability: we need to maintain that advantage, and by researching the cost of stable tuition today we can be better prepared to accommodate the students of tomorrow.

As a University we must better recognize global interdependence and what that means for both student opportunities and the Penn State brand. I will apply my working relationships in the international arena to foster a better awareness of and connection to global opportunities. This effort would hope to bring new programming and educational resources, stronger marketability abroad, and introductions to initiatives to wholly-engage the University.

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

My vision for the University doesn't focus on the past: it reaches for a strategic, collaborative effort to move Penn State forward. I am a candidate recognizing the Penn State community wants change, but also one who understands that any change must be reasoned and supported by experience and direction to best serve our reputation. In addition to my motivation for progress and enthusiasm to serve, my qualifications offer tangible advantages for Penn State's benefit.

Chiefly, working within the government affairs arena my experience and relationships would benefit one of the Board's most-critical functions: to preserve support for the University and increase resources and other opportunities. I know the budget-making process well, and can immediately assist this mission in Harrisburg and Washington. Complementing this value, prior work includes leveraging support to institutional advancement, programming, and advocacy. Furthermore, my role in Washington presents a significant, strategic advantage to develop a connection with premiere national and international organizations and return such resources to State College.

We need to ensure faculty concerns are vetted to provide educators the means to fully-prepare students; my experience as a faculty member will reinforce the voice Penn State faculty have in the decision-making process, ultimately serving them and student interests.

A former journalist I know not only the importance of communication and transparency, but how to make each accessible. My service record includes supporting the knowledge industry, leadership roles in multiple regions of Pennsylvania, and successfully communicating higher education's needs in Washington and Harrisburg.

Learn more about this candidate HERE.

Christine Stempka Rhoads, '99, Com, full-time mother and volunteer, Lancaster, Pa.

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 would be to:

1. Help restore alumni faith back into the Board. Like everyone else, I'm appalled how the Board created a scapegoat, disrespected the Paterno family and failed to protect our past and present athletes with the outrageous NCAA sanctions. The Board needs to publicly apologize to the Paterno family and work to correct the unjust sanctions put against the school and its athletes.

2. Tuition control. Since 2008, cost of PSU tuition has risen 31 percent; 7 percent higher than national average. The Board needs to be reminded about the importance of keeping a Penn State degree within reach of the middle class. I attended a public high school and was solely responsible for paying for my college education, worked part-time while taking as many classes as possible and graduated within eight semesters with a degree and two minors. I understand the financial burden students are facing and the importance of available financial aid. I received a grant and am still paying off my college loans.

3. The Board needs to focus on finding ways to increase financial aid or at least keep it on pace with tuition growth because of Governor Corbett's drastic state funding budget cuts.

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

The governing board needs new membership and individuals with diverse skills and ideas. The Board has enough lawyers, politicians and other professionals who are concerned with self-preservation and personal advancement. We need people to serve with a track record for helping others not just financially, but willing to give their time for the right reasons. When my daughter was born, I decided to pursue a new career as a full-time mother. I've been actively volunteering in hospitals and schools as an animal therapy team member, coaching Girls on the Run, invested countless hours in public school activities and fundraisers. I have served as PTO President and met with school district administrators to help resolve issues. I enjoy overcoming challenges. Post kids, I began running with the goal of completing a 5k. I have completed multiple half marathons with the goal of completing a full in the near future. Even though I have chosen an unpaid career path, it does not mean it is not valued. It has required incredible long-term self-sacrifice, commitment, patience, stamina and adaptability and deserves to be respected. I am proud of my career choice. My children are honest, confident, humble, and empathetic, excel in school and are my greatest accomplishments. I will represent PSU with sound judgment guided by integrity, observation, insight and unselfishness.

Brian M. Rutter, '03, Bus, vice president of operations, ICAT Logistics MDT Office, Boalsburg, Pa.

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

1. Grow private donations through the Development Department at PSU for large donor contributions.

We have seen incredible results when an individual donor backs a PSU program in the recent success of the Pegula Ice Rink. We must have board support and drive to reach specific goals of the Development Department. Adding incremental income to the University will help to decrease capital budget concerns and cutbacks through outside revenue streams.

2. Promote visibility of the board's actions

For many alumni there was very little knowledge of who was on the board, what their role was, what the daily actions were, etc. until the fall 2011 when the national spotlight turned on us. The board is in place to ensure that Penn State is the incredible staple in our lives. It's time to share the good of what the board is doing to improve the university on a regular basis so that we can all bond as community and continue to be PSU proud.

3. Define the expectations of the President/Board as they both view it

We have recently seen a higher turnover of high ranking employees and public figures at PSU than ever before. This created separation in the local community, the alumni base, the students, and beyond.

As President Barron takes the reigns a positive and forward moving relationship must be defined and embraced between the President and the board. Unified, collaborative efforts at the top of the University will resonate throughout PSU.

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

Our board must have the right kind of people as members with the right values before we seek people who merely list the right credentials. At this critical time for PSU as I share a closer tie to the feel, population, and personality of PSU with my fellow alumni, faculty, staff, students, and community vs. that of the average board candidate. I grew up in Happy Valley as a part of a PSU family (both alumni and faculty), I attended State due to my love of the University, and I made my way back to be close to PSU again in my personal and professional life with a company who hires PSU interns and grads. Many of my fellow candidates stress on a laundry lists of qualifications centered on professional accomplishments that are larger than life. However, most of us are not the CEO's of major corporations. We are alumni who are proud of our university, obtained our positions in our companies as a result of our experience at PSU, and we hope that our kids can go to PSU someday. We need a diverse board to bring a ground level view of the university in conjunction with the view from the top.

I am the most qualified candidate for the board as I am the voice of the average alumni in my day to day life with a promise to bring my core values in all of our voices to PSU – commitment, loyalty, integrity, passion, and respect.

Learn more about this candidate HERE.

Matthew W. Schuyler, '87, Bus, chief HR officer, Hilton Worldwide, McLean, Va.

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

If elected as a Trustee my top three priorities would be to:

1. Focus on the needs of our present and future students – we accomplish this goal by making Penn State a more affordable and accessible institution by steadfastly focusing on cost control to achieve lower and more affordable tuition, increasing scholarship aid, becoming a strong advocate for state funding and through encouraging significant growth of the university endowment and by strengthening the university's academic excellence. We need to expand our focus to remain a leading research University.

2. Dramatically improve the governance structure and ensure transparency with all stakeholders. As the head of HR for a large global company with many years of experience in people management, I can unequivocally say that when people feel that they have been provided all of the necessary information their belief and trust in the institution is much greater.

3. Make sure Joe Paterno is appropriately recognized for his lifetime of service to the University and acknowledge his role in building Penn State's legacy of academic and athletic excellence. Coach Paterno embodied grace, humility, and strong work ethic – he helped build Penn State's legacy. But for Joe, it was never about the recognition or gratitude. It was about walking out on that field, playing as a team and ultimately contributing to the world.

These top priorities, coupled with a broad, forward-thinking view, would ultimately foster an improved culture for learning and recognition throughout the university.

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

My Penn State degree launched me into my career qualified to make a difference and inspired to do so. I now have 27 years of progressive leadership experience in multiple industries working for highly complex, well-known and globally respected organizations. Last year, I was honored to receive recognition as the #1 Human Resource professional in the country. I add this point only to express that I have expertise I willingly offer to Penn State that I believe is valuable and timely.

I have a commitment to doing the right thing. Always. I am an independent thinker but a collaborative and inclusive worker. I believe both these skills are critical qualifications.

Beyond my professional skills, I can offer personal qualities that will reflect the integrity and character appropriately demanded by our alumni. As a former Lion Ambassador, I have a profound appreciation of the heritage and character of Penn State and the community.

I met my wife Anne here and together we are raising five children, hoping they will earn their way to one day receiving an offer of admission to continue the legacy. Anne and I have been fortunate and last year we were able to make a gift to permanently endow the Lion Ambassador program, thus ensuring its continuity for all generations to come. We have also created scholarships for athletes and supported several colleges. Now, beyond the monetary gifts of support, I offer my time, dedication and vigilance to protect a university we all love.

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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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