Education: B.A. history, 1959; J.D., Dickinson School of Law, 1962
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Work: government affairs chair, Obermayer Rebmann Maxwell & Hippel, Harrisburg and Altoona
Experiences and activities: president pro tempore, Pennsylvania State Senate, 1985-2006; lieutenant governor, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, 2001-2003; Distinguished Alumni Award, Penn State; Alumni Fellow, Penn State Alumni Association; Career Achievement Award, Dickinson School of Law; member, Nittany Lion Club and Penn State Alumni Association
Please describe your motivations for running for the Board of Trustees.
I love Penn State from the top of my head to the bottom of my toes. But serious challenges continue to face our university. The board needs an infusion of new blood to support the alumni-elected trustees from 2012 and 2013. Yet, we must still rely on the considerable advantages of life and professional experiences. Two valuable attributes I bring are well-directed advocacy, and insight into effectively engaging state officials and legislators. Twenty-six years in top legislative leadership taught me valuable skills that apply here: Bringing people with differing interests together for results, as well as regrouping and forging ahead after suffering setbacks. As a top leader in the legislature I was called “the senator from Penn State” because I sat in on all budget meetings and tried to make sure those who were not friends of Penn State did no harm. Since 2008 I have contributed my time by teaching a political science class on campaigns and elections at Penn State Altoona. I have also supported various university fundraising events as well as mentoring students both from Schreyer as part of Society of Distinguished Alumni and others whose parents I know to help them become acclimated as freshmen.
What are the most important challenges ahead for Penn State, and if elected, how would you address them?
• Board reform: The board needs to change its makeup and size. I support passage of Pennsylvania Senate Bill 1240 to reduce the size and makeup of the board. I also support opening up the method by which Business and Industry and Agriculture trustees are chosen. It should be done in a transparent fashion. I support placing Trustees under the State Ethics Act like our elected officials. Penn State and all state-related universities should fall under the Pennsylvania Right-to-Know Act so citizens have the right of access to what should be public records.
• A more affordable education: Penn State’s primary function is to be an institution of higher learning. We must assure our applicants and students that they will be able to attend the school of their dreams, as we did, and afford their time at Penn State. One small, yet easy step would be for the board to stop wasting money on hiring outside consultants; instead this money could be used to reduce tuition for students. New initiatives and open scrutiny of budgets can help find dollars to assist in accomplishing this goal.
• Improved relationships with important constituencies: Penn State through the leadership of the board needs to cultivate better relationships in Harrisburg with the state legislature and gubernatorial administration. We need to better convey to the public the remarkable attributes that make our university a renowned leader, and remind people what powerful economic engines all our campuses are.
If elected, what position would you support on the topic of Penn State board of trustees reform?
First, the board needs to change its makeup and size. I support passage of Pennsylvania Senate Bill 1240 to reduce the size and makeup of the board. I also support opening up the method by which business and industry and agriculture trustees are chosen. It should be done in a transparent fashion to engender confidence among all alumni. In addition, I support placing Trustees under the State Ethics Act just like our elected officials. Finally, Penn State and all state-related universities should fall under the Pennsylvania Right-to-Know Act so citizens have the right of access to what should by default be public records.
If elected, what position would you support about Joe Paterno?
No one in the 159 years since Penn State was designated as a land-grant college has been more a part of or so associated with the university as Joe Paterno. The university should appropriately honor that legacy. It is just a matter of when and how. I am glad to see support from anywhere for the return of the Paterno statue to either in front of Beaver Stadium or at a highly visible and publicly accessible place (such as by the Paterno Library) so alumni and all who care deeply about Penn State and the Paterno legacy can visit it, take pictures and explain to those children and adults too young to remember Joe Paterno about who he was and what he stood for.
Is there anything else you want voters to know about you and your candidacy?
Over the last two years I’ve worked diligently on behalf of making Penn State a better university and on board reform including:
• Recruiting 15 more co-sponsors for state Senate Bill 1240 to reduce the size and scope of the board of trustees;
• Co-authoring op-eds advocating for board reform measures that were published by several newspapers in Pennsylvania;
• Testifying at state Rep. Scott Conklin’s hearing on board reform in McKeesport;
• Taking candidates and alumni-elected Trustees to meet with legislators in Harrisburg to advocate for Penn State;
• Attending most of the board of trustees meetings across the state and addressing the board on reform during public comment;