Christine Stempka Rhoads: Penn State Board of Trustees candidate

April 10, 2014 

Biographical information


Age: 37

Education: B.A. media studies, 1999

Work: stay-at-home mom and volunteer

Experiences and activities: animal therapy volunteer team member, KPETS; head coach, Girls on the Run; PTO president, Centerville Elementary School; lifetime member, Penn State Alumni Association; former coordinator for Office of Medical Education and Alumni Affairs, Penn State College of Medicine, Hershey

Please describe your motivations for running for the Board of Trustees.

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. 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. I want to work with the board to patch things up with the Paterno family and work to correct the unjust sanctions put against the school and its athletes.

What are the most important challenges ahead for Penn State, and if elected, how would you address them?

Tuition control must be a priority. 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. The board needs to focus on finding ways to increase financial aid or at least keep it on pace with tuition growth.

If elected, what position would you support on the topic of Penn State board of trustees reform?

I welcome change. I think that we need to reduce the size of legislature in general in the state of Pennsylvania. If more can be accomplished with a smaller board, that is fine. It is critical that the functioning of the board needs to be changed, and they must be open and not continue to keep of matters from the bulk of the membership. I think it’s sneaky that you have to have a formal request to keep your voting active. But if you’re a lifetime Alumni Association member or alumnus who have donated money, you automatically get the reminders and voting links. Every alumnus with their contact info in their database should be allowed to participate without having their voting registration expire.

If elected, what position would you support about Joe Paterno?

I love Joe Paterno. My parents met at University Park, and I grew up anxiously waiting to see JoePa run onto the field or see him on the sidelines while watching football on TV. They told me of stories about seeing him on campus. I was fortunate to meet him while I was a senior in high school. He was visiting my school to recruit a player. He was so generous with his time that he offered to stay late and met with any student (and I came from a huge school) who wanted to chat or get an autograph. He was so sweet and kind asking us about ourselves and encouraging us to make sure education was a priority of ours in our future no matter what college we were planning on attending. The amount of time, support, money and love that he and his family gave to the university over the years needs to be remembered and preserved.

Is there anything else you want voters to know about you and your candidacy?

I promise to bring a fresh and energetic perspective to the board. I will do my best to represent you and hope to make you even more Penn State-proud.

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