Jason Kutulakis: Penn State Board of Trustees candidate

April 11, 2014 

Biographical information

Carlisle

Age: 45

Education: B.S. administration of justice, 1991; J.D., Dickinson School of Law, 1994

Work: attorney, Abom & Kutulakis LLP, Carlisle, 2001 to present

Experience and activities: 2001-2007 appointed by Pennsylvania Supreme Court to Juvenile Procedural Rules Committee; 2004, formed the Pennsylvania Children & Youth Solicitors Association (president 2008-2010); 2006, Pennsylvania Bar Association child advocate of the year; 1999-2010, solicitor, Dauphin County Social Services for Children and Youth; 2009, co-founded ChildFirst PA; 2012, appointee, governor’s Task Force on Child Protection; 2013, testified before the Pennsylvania General Assembly on more than a dozen occasions regarding abuse; 2001-2005, Dickinson School of Law Board of Governors; member of Penn State Alumni Association, Cumberland, Franklin and Dauphin county bar associations, state Bar Association Children’s Rights Committee, Pennsylvania Groundwater Association, Second Presbyterian Church trustee (2006-2008), Big Spring Bulldog Foundation, Western Cumberland County Council of Governments, National Rifle Association, 361 Blue Lodge

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

I have dedicated a significant portion of my professional career to children’s rights and training professionals charged with the responsibility of investigating reports of suspected child abuse. I am active in numerous community activities and have served in a variety of leadership posts in local organizations. Having served on the Board of Governors of the Dickinson School of Law and other organizations, I have the proven corporate governance experience to best represent the entire Alumni body.

My unique credentials will aid the trustees in implementing and publicizing positive reforms to help us move forward and focus on the future rather than a small aspect of our past. Only a respected child advocate can make a credible and persuasive case that Penn State has taken appropriate action to put the Sandusky matter behind us.

More importantly, I believe that the quickest path to rehabilitation of our reputation here and across the nation is for the alumni to take a more active role in school governance, and the first step is electing alumni trustees who will listen to the alumni, ensure that they are kept informed between elections and are willing to ensure that the opinions of the alumni have an effective advocate. I want to be that advocate. Penn State deserves more from its alumni representatives and its representatives deserve a real seat at the table and not the token title which they have been reduced to in recent years.

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

Three of the most critical issues facing Penn State are: fiscal responsibility and solvency, continued academic competitiveness/excellence and reputation. It is imperative that the newly elected trustees and entire board develop a cohesive relationship with President Barron. To be effective, the alumni trustees must have representation on the executive committee or other decision making committees. The graduating student body is facing increasing debts due to tuition increases, which must be manageable in order for them to be competitive in the workplace. Penn State’s deferred maintenance must also be challenged in order to continue to attract the best student body. Finally, a focus must be placed upon all of the incredible positive aspects of Penn State as opposed to a small aspect of its past. I am prepared to not simply be a member of the board, but to be a vocal participant who will lead Penn State into its next chapter.

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

My top three priorities as a member of the Penn State board of trustees are: 1. True compliance with the original charter of 1855 with a duty and responsibilities to the welfare of the university, its students, faculty, staff and alumni; 2. Develop a plan to regain the reputation that the university deserved without the blemish left by the Sandusky debacle; and work with the administration to assure the fiscal solvency of the university for generations.

I believe that the authority of the board of trustees has been compromised over the past 20 years and the 1996 policies must be revised to enlarge the role of the board to ensure full transparency for the public and the alumni.

In order to fully heal, all of the litigation surrounding the Sandusky debacle must be ended, including the matters involving the NCAA, commonwealth and the Paterno family. I believe my experience and relationships can forge a solution that will be acceptable to all.

I will be a leader who will develop a full assessment of the immediate, as well as the long term, needs of the university’s physical plant and economic structure. Once completed, a cost containment matrix must be developed along with the President’s budget to ensure the continued educational quality of our students will be met for the students of today as well as tomorrow.

I believe it is also imperative to build systems to interface with private industry and corporations to partner with the world renowned research capabilities of Penn State to develop products, medicines, and treatment processes that will generate revenue for the university.

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

In order to fully heal, all of the litigation surrounding the Sandusky debacle must be ended, including the matters involving both the NCAA, commonwealth and the Paterno family. I believe my experience and relationships can forge a solution that will be acceptable to all. For example:

• Distribution of the $60 million will be flipped to permit 75 percent to remain in Pennsylvania and 25 percent to leave but be restricted to specific child abuse programs like the National Child Protection and Training Center who are dedicated to ending child abuse;

• Return all of the Paterno awards and other accolades to the Paterno family;

• Work with the Paternos to develop a privately funded museum in State College to honor Coach Paterno’s legacy of building a great university and football program;

• Eliminate the remainder of other sanctions that are directly, negatively impacting students and athletes who had absolutely nothing to do with the matter; and

• Develop the Pennsylvania Child Protection & Training Center where all professionals will receive the necessary training to assure children suspected of being abused are identified and treated appropriately.

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

I am the only trustee candidate who is recognized as an authority in child abuse and children’s rights. My unique credentials will aid the Trustees in implementing and publicizing positive reforms to help us move forward and focus on the future rather than a small aspect of our past. Only a respected child advocate can make a credible and persuasive case that Penn State has taken appropriate action to put the Sandusky matter behind us.

In 2004, I co-founded the Pennsylvania Children and Youth Solicitors Association, organizing and educating those attorneys who represent child welfare agencies. In 2006, the Pennsylvania Bar Association named me its child advocate of the year. In 2009, I co-founded ChildFirst PA, a weeklong training for professionals charged with investigating reports of suspected child abuse. In 2012, I was appointed to the Governor’s Task Force on Child Protection.

More info: http://abomkutulakis.com/lawyers/jason_kutulakis.php, www.linkedin.com/in/jasonkutulakis and http://bit.ly/1g37j2K, jpk@abomkutulakis.com, https://www.facebook.com/abomkutulakis

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