Letter to the editor | Board needs a psychologist

April 8, 2014 

The presence of subject-matter experts on a governing board is essential to an organization’s success.

Imagine, for example, if ExxonMobil’s board of directors included no petroleum experts or if Wal-Mart’s board had no retail experts.

These corporations simply would never allow such a situation to exist.

Although Penn State’s core mission is education, the 30 voting members of its board of trustees include no active faculty. None of the current members has been a professor since 1981, when chalkboards were the main instructional technology.

One candidate for the board, Alice Pope, has been a psychology professor for 25 years.

Although many academics never venture beyond the ivory tower, Pope has been actively pursuing reform of the Penn State board by participating in board meetings, writing columns calling for reform and lobbying the legislature to fix Penn State’s governance problems.

Pope recently was lauded by the American Council of Trustees and Alumni for her concerns for Penn State’s students.

They noted that she is a central player in “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. Trustees and alumni would do well to listen to her and address these concerns.”

The board needs a professor among its ranks. And anyone who has observed Penn State’s dysfunctional board has seen that the board needs a psychologist.

By electing Alice Pope to the board, alumni can fill both of these needs.

Dave Ketchen, Opelika, Ala.

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