Amy Williams: Penn State Board of Trustees candidate

April 11, 2014 

Biographical information


Education: Hotel and restaurant management, 1980

Work: president and managing director, SageWorks Rx

Experience and activities: board member, Penn State Outreach and Online Education; board member, Musicopia; lifetime member, Penn State Alumni Association; member, Penn State Nittany Lion Club and Penn State President’s Club

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

I truly believe I have the unique blend of skills, experience and heritage which is needed on the board for the best interest of our great university and the students.

The skills and experiences I bring to the table are acutely mission on the current board (strategic planning, brand management, marketing communications, public relations, risk management and organizational management), and I can effectively fill this gap.

I have experience in getting things done in large complex organizations, including being on boards, not just talking about what needs to be done, but actually getting them done and with stakeholders with different agendas.

I have a history of successfully building bridges in these large complex organizations with stake holders with different objectives, all with positive outcomes.

Penn State is part of who I have always been, way before 2011.

I have been involved with Penn State since I graduated in 1980, so being involved is not new for me. I am currently on the board for Penn State Outreach, (e.g. Penn State World Campus, online education) so I have a first hand experience on how the university is run from the inside out — a significant asset. Our family has such a deep heritage at Penn State we have a residence here since 1980.

I have the time: As a single adult living west of Philadelphia who has a residence — in State College, it is easy for me to travel to Penn State.

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

• Keeping the students at the center of every decision, program and fiscal spend.

• Board reform: see my comments trustee reform on this question)

• Affordability: The overall fiscal challenge is how to effectively manage the cost of running a large university with a $4.45 billion annual budget and yet keep tuition at a price point which balances affordability with value.

Constantly raising tuition is an archaic and non-innovative approach to meeting budgetary goals. Additionally it is not sustainable and is against our own land grant legacy.

Therefore it is critical we focus on operational excellence and identify and rank initiatives of true strategic value. By effectively developing, refining and strengthening key areas of operations (e.g. communications, governance, real estate investment and maintenance) we will be able to effectively reduce duplication of efforts and identify areas of efficiencies which will ultimately help fund all initiatives of strategic value.

It is also critical to focus and invest in our areas of growth. One specific area is Penn State World Campus and online education. (Note: I am on the board for Penn State Outreach, which includes the World Campus.)

• Protect our strengths: As we change and grow, it is critical to know, protect and develop all areas and attributes which makes Penn State great. The importance of this can never be underestimated so as not to loose them.

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

Most importantly, the board should provide a culture of trust, civility and leadership among themselves and their stakeholders to achieve our university’s mission and goals. We need to reconcile our past before we can truly move forward. When this culture is achieved, there is no limit to what we can achieve.

Reduce the number of trustees. Nothing new, but it still needs to be accomplished. The logical place to begin is with state-controlled seats. With state appropriations making up only about 6 percent of Penn State’s annual budget, then these seats need to be reduced to 6 percent of the board seats or approximately two seats.

Reducing the number of trustees will allow us to move from a large working board with many committees and sub-committees to a board of leadership and oversight.

Publish and refine the qualifications, process, and decision makers regarding business and industry appointments. This needs to be transparent and made public in a timely manner.

Make public the voting records of each trustee on all issues which include a vote, including but not limited to business and industry appointments.

Publish and refine the exact roles and responsibilities of the executive committee. Currently their roles are loosely defined as transaction of “all necessary business that may arise in the intervals between regular meetings of the board.”

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

As a trustee it is of utmost importance to reconcile our past before we can truly move forward. This includes appropriately restoring the legacy of Joe Paterno. To say we need to move forward without reconciling our past is myopic, bad business and not in the best interest of our great university.

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

I pledge my intellect, my time and my heart to do what is best for our great university. It is for her glory, why I am running.

I am running as an independent thus am not beholden to any group.

More info:,,,, Twitter: @Amypsu39

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