Wednesday, March 28, 2012


No matter how you slice it, athletics and academics are intertwined at the university level. Thanks to the legacy left by Coach Paterno, the intertwining of athletics and academics has been a blessing to Penn State.

Coach Paterno was a visionary, years ago before anyone else, he realized that an all sports conference was the way of the future. Fortunately for Penn State, no one else in the east was able to see that vision. Had Coach Paterno been able to create an all sport eastern conference, we would not be part of the Big Ten and becoming a member of the Big Ten has meant more to Penn State academically than it has athletically.

Unfortunately when most people, including most of our alumni, think of Penn State being in the Big Ten, they think of it in strictly an athletic perspective. If we had become a part of an all eastern conference, stayed independent or joined some other conference, my guess is that our athletic program would not look much different than it does today.

Academically however it is a whole different story. From the time we entered into the Big Ten, the quality of the academics offered at Penn State has soared and continues to soar. There was immediate pressure to compete with and reach the academic level of schools like the University of Michigan, Northwestern University and the University of Chicago to name a few. Being a part of the Big Ten has resulted in Penn State becoming one of the top academic institutions in the country. It is not simply the idea of being No 1 on the football field, wrestling mat, etc. it is being No. 1 in the academic rankings among the various colleges and majors within the university system.

If it were not for the quality of the many athletic teams that Penn State fields each and every year, if it were not for the quality and integrity of the football program that Coach Paterno built over the years, Penn State may not have been invited to join the Big Ten. With regard to the many accolades you can bestow on Coach Paterno, putting us in a position to be invited to join the Big Ten has to rank very high on the list.

When I wrote about the Penn State brand in an earlier blog, I was referring to the brand as representing both academic excellence as well as athletic excellence. Excelling in both endeavors makes Penn State a very attractive University for the best brightest students not just from Pennsylvania but from all over the country and indeed all over the world.

Coach Paterno meant so much more to this University then simply athletics, before I would vote to rename the football stadium or to name the football field after Coach Paterno, I would want to want to take a hard look at all of the ways Coach Paterno touch this university and make sure that whatever the University ends up doing to honor this great individual, it truly reflects all that he has meant to this University.

There is no question that Joe Paterno was Penn State and Penn State was Joe Paterno.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012


Annual tuition increases have become a serious problem, one the Board of Trustees MUST address. Penn State has the highest in-state tuition of any public university within the Commonwealth. We are also number one with the highest in-state tuition of any school in the Big Ten. That is a number one ranking we should NOT be proud of.

Penn State's mission states: "As Pennsylvania's land-grant university, we provide unparalleled access and public service to support the citizens of the commonwealth." We are failing miserably in providing "unparalleled access" to the citizens of the Commonwealth. Working class families are finding it very difficult to send their sons and daughters to PSU and many students are leaving PSU with education debt in the six figures.

How do we solve this problem? There are two ways to solve this problem, we can cut cost to lower the per-credit tuition rate or we can raise more money to cover the cost of providing a first class education.

The athletic department has set a great example. The have not taken in the most money of any Big Ten school or among the other universities that have reported their numbers but they have operated the athletic department at a lower cost than those universities that have taken in more money. The end result is that our athletic department is the most profitable athletic department in the Big Ten and among all universities that have publically reported their numbers. That is a first place position we can be proud of!!!

I firmly believe if we scrutinize the University budget on a line by line basis, from the budget for the Trustees and the Office of the President on down, we will find a lot of dollars that can be saved without jeopardizing the quality of the education we provide. As the Army advertisement goes we need to be "lean and mean".

That is one half of the equation; the other half is to raise more money. I believe there is a fundraising campaign under way to raise fund to help offset tuition increases. That's a start but there are other ways to raise money. In today's environment, many non-profits are looking at starting for-profit business as a way of replacing shrinking government funds. In the 1980's I was a member of an Association of Retarded Citizens [ARC] Board that opened a Dairy Queen that served to provide operating income for the agency and also provided employment for those we served. USA Today recognized us as being one of first non-profits to enter into this type of venture.

With all of the brain power that exist on our campuses from both faculty and students as well bright entrepreneurial alumni, we should be able to be able to leverage our billions of dollars in endowments into profit making ventures and use this money to lower tuition rates. Again as I mentioned in an earlier blog, the Board should create a Task Force that would tackle and solve this problem.

Penn State has one of the most recognized brands in the county; we need to make use of that brand. When I was President of the Student Government, we fought the University to open a book store on campus. We were opposed by the University because of some agreement they were suppose to have with the town. We finally opened the first used book store on campus in the HUB and now there is a great bookstore on campus. PSU owns a lot of real estate, has some of the best agricultural experts in the country [Penn State grass seed], a renowned School of Business, Penn State Ice Cream, I could go on. There is no doubt in my mind that we can come up with new and innovative ways to make money to lower tuition cost.

Monday, March 26, 2012


Penn State is no longer the "Farmers High School", it is time that the Board resembled the 21st century in its make-up. The last time the make-up of the Board was reevaluated was in 1952. Today’s University does not resemble the University of 1952 let along the original Farmers High School.

The alumni are the life blood of this great University. When another billion dollar campaign is undertaken, it is the alumni who step up and meet the goal. With that being said the alumni are relegated to electing only nine members to the 32 member board. There is something wrong with this picture.

In addition the lack of an adequate number of elected alumni on the Board, voting faculty have no seats on the board and there are no elected students on the Board.

My ideal Board would be a number less than 32 [this makes for an unwieldy board] total members. At least half of the Board would be composed of elected alumni members, there would be at least two elected faculty members who would be voting members and at least two elected student members who would be voting members [one undergraduate student and one graduate student].

The university community is composed of three main groups; students, faculty and alumni - all three should be represented on the Board.


Should PSU become a private University? It is an idea that I would not dismiss out of hand. Both Cornell and Massachusetts Institute of Technology are land grant institutions that have gone private. Although I hold degrees from two land grant institutions, PSU and Rutgers [the oldest school to hold land grant status] our land grant status does not preclude the possibility of going private.

The state funds less than 6% of the Universities overall budget yet the Governor controls almost 1/3 of our Board of Trustees, going private would free up those seats for elected alumni members. See my post on the makeup of the Board.

There are concerns: How would going private affect our Commonwealth Campuses? How would we be able to maintain the Penn State Agricultural County Cooperative Extension Programs? These are two issues that come immediately to mind, I am sure there are many others.

A mistake all boards commonly make is to believe that they must solve all problems among the board members. Being in a University settling we are blessed with being surrounded by great minds, both from within our faculty and student body and throughout our Alumni. When there are difficult problems to solve or issues to explore, I am in favor of creating an ad hoc "Task Force" chaired by a Board member but composed of board members, facility and alumni to explore issues and help solve problems.

Wisdom does not begin and end with those individuals fortunate enough to be seated on the Board of Trustees.


Since our position statements were limited to 250 words I chose to make the failure of Board Governance the essence of my statement. You can have a great resume and great ideas but if you do not understand and practice good board governance, disaster can strike like it did last fall. I applaud the Board for setting up a Governance committee recently, it was long overdue, however they failed to understand that a board should not be run by an Executive Committee. An Executive Committee has a role to play in all boards but that role should be limited. All Board members should be "hands on" regarding the oversight of the University.

I have over 100 years of Board experience from a medical board to a financial board, from for-profit boards to non-profit boards. There is no college major called Board Governance. You learn about governance two ways: the hard way, by serving on good, well run, boards, and by serving on badly run boards and by studying the current thinking as to what constitutes "best practices" in board governance. I have had the fortunate or unfortunate experience of learning through both methods.

Each person who ends up being elected will have the same problem, how do you convince the majority of the board to move in a new direction. That is why I proposed that I would push for the Board to hire an expert to study how the Board is currently being run and make suggestions that would lead the Board to adopt "best practices". It will be hard for the board not to adopt these recommendations which I believe will be the start of moving the board in a new direction.


While asking people to nominate me for the PSU Board of Trustees, I was asked about my position on a number of issues. I know there is a lot of interest in this year’s election as evidenced by 86 candidates. The position statement we had to submit for the election as well as the bio was limited to 250 words each. With everything that has gone on at Penn State this past year, it was hard to craft a position statement and bio limited to 250 words.

With this site I will accomplish the following:

  • Provide my ideas on what I would like to accomplish as a PSU Trustee. 
  • Respond to pertinent news stories as they appear. 
  • Hear your responses to my comments, as well as your thoughts about PSU in general. 

I will make every effort to post news stories related to what is unfolding at PSU so you are up-to-date with this continuing story. And to give you an additional incentive to check back here on a regular basis, I will provide links to what is occurring with regard to the football team and other PSU sports. Spring training has started and if you are not aware, Coach O’Brien has had a fabulous start with regard to the 2013 recruiting class with five verbal commitments, and a class that is currently ranked in the top 10 nationally.

Please let me know if there is anything else you would like to see.

Thank you,