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.