“I'm asking for the opportunity to fight for your interests and to fight for the future of our great University.” - Brandon Short
Making Penn State More Affordable
Rising Cost To Attend Penn State
The rising cost to attend college is a national problem. Around the country, States have decreased funding for higher education while demand to attend four-year universities has steadily increased. Cuts to State funding and increases in the number of students applying to college have driven pricing up and has made it difficult for middle-class families to afford to send their kids to college.
While college affordability is a national problem, this issue is much larger at Penn State. Penn State has the highest in-state tuition among its peers in the Big Ten and has the third highest tuition for public schools nationally. My business experience has taught me that you can tell where a company’s priorities are by looking at the expense line items in their budgets and that increases in costs are almost always passed on to the customer. This analogy applies to both running a business and running a university. Over the past four years, Penn State operating costs have increased by approximately 10%. The affordability problem at Penn State is caused by the University's unwillingness to prioritize spending and control costs.
Affordability puts Penn State at a competitive disadvantage in many areas including the following:
Decreasing our ability to recruit talented students
Leaving Alumni with crushing debt burden
Forfeiting our responsibility to provide an affordable education
While Penn State's affordability is a serious issue; We Are a Great University. Together we can and will come up with solutions to this problem.
Below is a summary of my ideas on how to address this challenge:
Temporary Tuition and Housing Cost Freeze
Last year the Pennsylvania State Auditor General recommended that the Board of Trustees form an affordability task force to develop a long-term plan to address costs. A temporary cost freeze would maintain the current level of affordability and allow the President to implement the recommendations of the affordability task force.
Incentivize Penn States Management To Keep Costs Low
The President’s total compensation is a combination of salary & bonus; with the bonus portion based on performance. I recommend incentivizing the President and other members of Penn State's senior management to reduce costs by tying a portion of their bonus to keeping costs under control.
Slow The Rate Of Costly or Unnecessary Construction Projects
Penn State must continue to improve its facilities to remain at the forefront of higher learning. However, with every new facility, there are significant operating costs that are mostly funded by increased student fees. We must carefully evaluate each project; conducting a cost-benefit analysis on the necessity of the project versus the additional costs that will be passed on to students.
Decrease Cost And Increase Efficiency
Penn State has a $5.7 billion budget which makes it one of the largest businesses in the State of Pennsylvania. Penn State’s scale and reach should allow it to reduce cost by negotiating favorable pricing with it suppliers. I plan to identify areas such as books, paper, food & beverages, etc. where we can decrease spending and pass that cost savings on to the students.
Offer The Children Of Out Of State PSU Alumni A Discounted Tuition
Part of what makes Penn State so special is its exceptional culture and strong values. Many Alumni choose to send their children to Penn State so that these exceptional values can be passed down through multiple generations of their family.
The rising costs have made our University unaffordable to a large number of Alumni. The total cost to attend Penn State’s University Park Campus for in-state students is approximately $34,000 per year and the total out-of-state cost is approximately $51,000 per year. While the total costs for both in-state and out-of-state students need to be controlled; the out-of-state costs have caused attending Penn State to be out of reach for the children of many loyal Alumni.
It’s important that we encourage & support Alumni families who choose to send their children to Penn State so that they can pass on what’s best about who We Are. As a result, if elected I plan to explore ways Penn State can offer a discounted tuition rate to the children of our Alumni.
Implementing Stronger Board Governance & Accountability
The hallmark of any great institution is good Governance. Penn State has an issue with accountability & transparency at a Board level and if we don’t address this issue we won't be great for long.
The quality of our leadership and the process they use to make decisions affect every aspect of the University – from Tuition, Curriculum, to Greek Life; board governance is at the heart of it all.
What fosters good governance on most Boards is that interests of Board members are aligned with the key stakeholder in their institutions. At Penn State, these key stakeholders are the Alumni, the State of Pennsylvania, and the Students - Who are future Alumni.
The Alumni, State, and Students command less than half of the voting power on Penn State’s Board. This has allowed a small group to maintain control of every aspect of the University with limited oversight and without accountability. Decisions at Penn State are currently made by this same small group whose interest may not be aligned with yours.
How Does This Affect You
Quality of our Curriculum
Restructuring of the Board - So that its interests are aligned with its key stakeholders
Increased Transparency - So that the public can fairly assess the merit of each decision
Merit Based Nominating Process- So that all new board members will possess skills that will make the board more effective
More accountability & transparency for Penn State's Leadership will result in better decisions for the University. If elected I will use my platform to raise the issue of Board accountability & transparency to the voters of the State of Pennsylvania and to our Alumni across the world. I will do this to ensure that Penn State’s Board of Trustees makes sound decisions that will lead our University into the future.
Preparing Penn State for the Future
Disruptive technology has transformed almost every industry. Advances in technology have revolutionized Transportation, Communications, Medicine and many others fields. Today advances in technology are changing the face of education. Hospitals today look nothing like they did 100 years and education is undergoing a similar change.
Penn State’s World Campus offers one of the nation’s top online curriculums. Online education and artificial intelligence are changing the nature of learning. I plan on working to ensure that Penn State stays at the forefront of that change.
If elected I will propose that Penn State:
Continues to Invest in and expand the World Campus
Create new majors that keep pace with the ever-changing job market
Work to attract more entrepreneurial and technology Companies to recruit Penn State students
Uniting the Penn State Community
I’m running for the Board of Trustees to build a better future. Penn State is facing many challenges. If elected; I will apply my years of business experience and my passion for the University to help us meet these challenges head-on.
I’ve listened to the concerns of Penn State Alumni from across the country. The Penn State Community continues to be deeply divided over how to address the mistakes of the November 2011 Board of Trustees. The majority of Alumni are mistrustful of Penn State’s leadership and want the Board to be held accountable for their errors. However, there is another segment that have grown weary of the negative media coverage and want to simply move on.
The Board of Trustee has divided the Penn State Community; by creating a false narrative that Alumni who want the Board to be held accountable don’t care about Penn State’s future. The Alumni who are demanding Board accountability, love Penn State and care greatly about its future but are still upset over the Board’s failure of leadership. The Board’s actions have caused people who possess common bonds, who have shared values, to be at odds.
A house divided cannot stand. We can’t simply dismiss the concerns of large portions of our Alumni whose hearts are still broken. We cannot simply adopt a slogan “Move Forward” and assume that their pain will heal. The future is far more important than the past.
We cannot reach our full potential and move boldly into the future till we address the concerns of these Alumni. Because their love, passion, and dedication to Penn State is the foundation on which we stand. If we dismiss the concerns of some of our best Penn Staters, if we leave these people behind, then we lose a part of what makes Penn State so special, we lose a part of Who We Are.
The November 2011 Board had to make some difficult decisions and clearly made mistakes. There is a lot in this world that can be rectified with an apology. For Penn State to heal the Board must acknowledge that it could have done a better job.
When we unite our fractured community, the potential for Penn State’s future will be limitless. If elected; I will do everything in my power to help bridge this divide; not for Penn State’s past but for Its future.