With respect to taking on the task of serving as an Alumni-Elected member of the Penn State Board of Trustees, it is not enough – not nearly enough – to have the best of intentions.
Nor is it enough to simply “care about” Penn State.
I would wager that there are literally THOUSANDS of Penn State Alumni who both “care about” Penn State, and who have the best of intentions.
And yet, over seven years we have been unable to find and elect even NINE who can function as responsible Trustees on our Board of Trustees.
WHY IS THAT?
And what must we do about it?
The Need is Obvious:
We MUST stop sending in Unarmed Trustees, to fight a battle for which they are simply unprepared.
We MUST bring forward Trustees who are both properly armed, and properly motivated.
Let’s illustrate with an all too common example of one of Penn State’s most important Governance Issues:
Nearly everyone who pays attention to Penn State knows that tuition rates have soared to ridiculous levels.
However, it is not nearly enough to say: “We need to reduce tuition expenses”.
Not nearly enough, even with the best of intentions.
In order to be effective in addressing the issue of Penn State Tuition:
1) One must KNOW why tuition expenses are what they are….
2) One must KNOW what the causes are….
3) One must KNOW why PSU has the highest In-State tuition in the nation….
4) One must KNOW what the impacts and the implications are, of such bloated tuition expenses.
An effective Trustee needs to KNOW these things.
They need to come to the table with weapons like this:
And an effective Trustee needs to have plans and proposals –
built upon that deep foundation of knowledge.
Logical and appropriate proposals, like the ones in the link above.
Otherwise, when we send in unarmed Trustees –
even when we send in representatives who may have the best of intentions –
the process follows this all-to-familiar script:
After reciting, with the best of intentions, that “Tuition is Too High” – the Trustee enters the arena of the PSU BOT.
The Trustee enters the arena WITHOUT a thorough, detailed knowledge of the situation, and is instead reliant upon being indoctrinated into the system – by those very people responsible for the problem.
The Trustee’s primary education begins AFTER being elected to the Board, and is that which is fed to them by the Administration and Leadership, the folks who are responsible for the problem to start with.
In this case, they are force-fed the Administration’s version of the cure-all wonder-drug:
“We need the State to send us more money. The State doesn’t contribute enough – and you guys (Trustees) need to politic for more funds.”
The Trustee has no idea what is really going on… has no idea of all the factors that are really driving those tuition levels (State funding is well down the list)…. and can do nothing but fall into the swamp water – and serve as just another member of the flock.
They fail not because they don’t have “The Best of Intentions”, and not even because they don’t “Care about Penn State”, but because they simply DO NOT have the resources to do any better.
They are UNARMED.
We have to stop sending Trustees into a knife fight, who are armed with a plastic spoon.
We need to send in Trustees who are armed with a knife…. In fact, we need to send in Trustees armed with TWO knives – because this isn’t a fair fight.
We are greatly outnumbered…. and the opposition has been honing their weapons for years.
If it were easy – if sending in well-armed Trustees to speak for us was easy – we would have done it by now.
But it is NOT easy.
One can only acquire those necessary weapons by investing the time and effort.
One can only arm themselves to address Penn State’s Tuition Problem by spending many, many, many hours acquiring, researching, and analyzing issues such as “Tuition” – and any other issue of University governance ….
And one must be willing and able to use those weapons to stand up and fight that very difficult fight against an entrenched opponent.
These are not easy tasks.
These are not tasks which can be accomplished through a brief orientation or on-the-job training.
These are not commitments one should take lightly.
Taking on all of the fiduciary responsibilities facing a Penn State Trustee is a daunting task.
Fighting the Pirates who have usurped our University – Pirates who prostitute the University to serve their own self-interests – is a tremendously difficult challenge.
This much is certain:
That fight is not going to be won by sending unarmed Trustees into the arena.