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Short Seeks to Unite Penn State Community, Tackle Rising Costs

by on April 25, 2018 11:33 AM

Most Penn Staters know Brandon Short as a legendary linebacker who served as team captain for the Nittany Lions in both 1998 and 1999. Others know him as an NFL player for the New York Giants or the Carolina Panthers. You could soon know him as a Penn State trustee.

After earning his MBA from Columbia Business School in 2010, Short went to work for Goldman Sachs, advising corporate boards on structure and governance practices. He then moved to London in 2015 and is now a vice president at Round Hill Capital. If he’s elected, Short’s key platform goals are to make Penn State more affordable, implement stronger board governance and accountability, prepare Penn State for the future and unite the Penn State community.

Penn State’s Board of Trustees has been criticized for its lack of diversity. Short says trustees can work on this by seeking out people of different races, religions, genders and socioeconomic backgrounds to fill its various appointed positions.

“If elected, I believe I would be the only African-American, and I would be the youngest person on the board,” Short said. “If everybody gets in the room and they’re all from the same background, then you’re most likely going to come out with a similar outcome. You want people raising voices of dissent to look at things from a different perspective to lead to those better outcomes.”

As for reforming other aspects of the board, Short said he supports legislation recently introduced in Pennsylvania’s state House, which would reduce the size of Penn State’s Board of Trustees, require trustees and some employees to file statements of financial interest under Pennsylvania’s Ethics Act, and expand the extent of public documents available under the state’s Right-to-Know law.

Short particularly supports aligning the membership of the Board of Trustees with the main constituents of the university — “the alumni, the state of Pennsylvania, and the students, who are future alumni” rather than appointees who act independently.

“My key issue — the thing that I will fight for if I’m fortunate enough to be elected — is making Penn State affordable for middle-class people, so that people can achieve the American dream just as I have: coming from a very tough background and being able to achieve their goals by getting the amazing education that Penn State provides,” Short said.

Although Short was fortunate enough to attend Penn State on a scholarship, he said even the wealthiest students in his neighborhood would not have been able to afford out-of-state tuition. He hopes Penn State will move forward to provide greater transparency to the public of the details in its line-item budget and what exactly it is that continues to rely on raising tuition costs and student fees.

“We’re leaving students with a crushing debt burden, and it’s putting us at a decided disadvantage for recruiting some of the best and the brightest students, because our cost and affordability is out of control,” he said.”

Short added he’d like to sit on the Board of Trustees committees on Finance, Business, and Capital Planning and Governance and Long-Range Planning. Because of his passion for ensuring Penn State’s affordability, he said he’d also like to take a leadership role on an affordability task force.

Finally, Short hopes to unite a Penn State community that he says has had a “deep divide” since the Sandusky scandal. One group of the alumni base wants to honor the past, while another believes the university should focus on moving forward.

“There’s a false narrative out there that people who want to honor the past don’t necessarily care about the future, and I think that’s the farthest thing from the truth,” Short said. “We cannot move forward as a university boldly and reach our full potential by leading some of the best Penn Staters behind, the people that are the most passionate, the people that have given their time and their treasure.

“The future is far more important than the past, and everything that I do if elected will be focused on the future and making our great university even better, including honoring the past.”

Alumni should have received their ballots this month via email. Those who did not participate in the nomination phase can request a ballot online.

Voting will close at 9 a.m. Thursday, May 3. Results of the election will be announced at the Board of Trustees meeting on Friday, May 4 at the Penn Stater.


Elissa Hill is managing editor for Onward State.
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