Joel N. Myers: Penn State Board of Trustees candidate

April 11, 2014 

Biographical information

State College

Education: B.S. meteorology, 1961; M.S. meteorology, 1963; Ph.D meteorology, 1971

Work: Founder and president, AccuWeather

Experiences and activities: board member, Penn State board of trustees; board member, Team Pennsylvania; recognized by Entrepreneur Magazine as one of the greatest entrepreneurs in American history; faculty member at Penn State, 1964 to 1981; donated Nittany Lion Weather Vane at Beaver Stadium, August 2001; donated two walk-in Sundials, Nittany Lion Inn and Arboretum at Penn State; have funded multiple undergraduate scholarships for the department of meteorology, College of Information Sciences and Technology, and football; donor of $2 million for the creation of the Joel N. Myers Weather Center, department of meteorology

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

I did not make the decision lightly to run for a 12th and final term on the board of trustees. Instead, I thought about how best I could serve the university that I love.

It is clear that this campaign is not about any one candidate; it’s rather about the future direction of Penn State. The alumni have a fundamental choice to make — do we look backward with recriminations or do we move Penn State forward? I want to move the university forward, and that’s why I am running.

My three Penn State degrees, 18 years on its faculty, and 33 years of trustee experience dealing with this complex university coupled with my entrepreneurial and management success at AccuWeather makes me uniquely qualified to continue serving Penn State. The board has had rapid turnover the last few years; so my experience and institutional knowledge will help new board members continue the great successes Penn State is having.

Make no mistake, Penn State is knocking the cover off of the ball. Applications and research dollars are up substantially. We are consistently ranked as a top university in the world and our rankings have been climbing. Our athletic teams keep winning national titles the Penn State way. These goals I have been working for behind the headlines.

While many want to focus on the past, I will continue to focus on making the positive future for Penn State as bright as possible.

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

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

The pace of rising tuition is unsustainable, and government loans and grants to students used to pay some of these costs will not continue to rise. Tuition costs are eclipsing the ability of families to pay or are causing hardship in meeting those costs. While we cannot expect the cost of a Penn State education — one of the very best in the nation — to become inexpensive, we must use responsible stewardship in reducing any tuition increases, securing better funding sources for our students, and providing alternative ways to secure the Penn State experience.

Second, digital media technologies are turning the residential learning model on its head. This challenge is enormous. Penn State needs to continue to lead the way, and I have helped to forge that over a number of years.

Third, change is accelerating, and educational needs are likewise changing faster than ever, because of the internet, mobile access, robots, 3-D printing, and a host of new developments.

These are the changes I have been focusing the board and the Administration on and these will continue to be a significant part of my focus.

The board and the university have to embrace the “disruptive technologies” that we are seeing today in society in order to survive in what will be an increasingly competitive environment. The delivery system for education is changing, and as a university we must change with it.

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

Those who know me and have served on the board with me know that I have always been a reformer. Some of the reforms I did accomplish prior to 2011, included management of our endowment and restructuring of important operations. Clearly, the major reforms in board governance have come over the last two years. I have been a vocal supporter of those reforms, and actively involved in achieving them. I will continue to evaluate future reforms and work for the ones that I believe will help Penn State in the future.

One of the reforms that I supported was placing term limits on board service. I advocated and voted for term limits before the current upheaval. Part of that plan was to allow existing trustees the same opportunity as new trustees – that is to serve the same number of years starting when the rule went into effect. Outside experts advised that experienced board members are needed to mix in with new “freshman” board members. This allows sharing of knowledge and experience in managing our $5 billion annual budget and our very complex university. In all likelihood we will soon have only eight or nine out of 30 trustees with over three years of experience, the most turnover the board has ever seen. This will be a challenge in both governing and oversight. Turning over the entire board at once would leave the university at a disadvantage and devoid of an historical root.

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

Joe Paterno was my idol, I knew him since he was an assistant coach under Rip Engle. I provided him with weather forecasts to help with game strategies over all those years and autographed pictures of he and I hang here at AccuWeather. It was a gut-wrenching decision on that awful day to vote to remove him as head coach. It was a decision that the board came to unanimously, and that result was because we had lost the confidence in the leaders and faces of the University as a result of the information we had at the time. It was not a decision based on guilt or innocence, but rather an ability to lead the University through that time.

I think that we should look for an appropriate way to honor Joe Paterno, not only for his athletic success but also for his academic focus. As great a coach as Joe was, it was his commitment to academics and the culture of true student athletes and the “Grand Experiment” that defined his legacy. I think putting a statue of Joe Paterno and Fred Pattee in front of the library would be a way to honor him appropriately now, not because he donated and raised money for the library, but most importantly because of his commitment to academics and the lifetime success for his football players that distinguished him in my mind.

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

The time is now for the university to move forward. We all need to be advocates for the great things happening at Penn State. Anyone who knows me or has followed my actions on the board knows I always do what I believe is in the best interest of the university. I am one of the few remaining bridges on the board to the future. It is a future I have helped build and will further help to articulate and define. It is this unique combination of experience, vision, creativity, and the embrace of new ideas for this university that I bring to a final term. That will be my focus if reelected to the board for a final term. I hope I can count on your support.

More info: drjoelnmyers@gmail.com, www.joelmyers.com, www.facebook.com/joelmyersPSUBOT, Twitter: @drjoelnmyers, www.linkedin.com/pub/joel-myers/1a/579/706

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