As an undergraduate at Penn State, Myke Triebold served as the original campus coordinator for the American Red Cross blood donation services. Under her leadership, she said, a once-defunct student organization increased its annual bloodmobile donations to 4,700 units a year from 400. The third-generation Penn Stater would go on to teach at the university and live in the State College area for 22 years.
“Penn State is in my blood,” she said. Now, Triebold is prepared to give her blood – sweat and tears, too – as a member of the Board of Trustees.
Currently a real-estate consultant in the Florida panhandle, Triebold said the decision to run for the board was an awakening, forcing her to ask herself how she could step up to the plate and make a difference. There’s no limit to issues she’d tackle: From improving student life to fixing current bylaws to dealing with the fallout from November, Triebold said she has the ability to best serve Penn State.
It has been troubling to watch a board that seems so closed off and what seems to be the lack of ability by members to speak freely, she said – comparable to a secret society.
“The recent events have pointed out to me that the university has a broken and outdated system that has consolidated power in a few that clearly has not always acted in the best interests of the entire university,” she said. “November ripped a scab off. Those who love Penn State are bleeding.”
Things need to change, she said, and that starts with a more transparent Board of Trustees. Triebold said she sat and watched in disbelief when no one else spoke up to explain the decision or answer questions on that fateful night in November.
“I would have been standing on the steps of Old Main handing out leaflets. Maybe I’d be fired, but by George, they’d know what happened. Bylaws be damned,” she said. “I’ve stood up to employers before, and it cost me two jobs. I’ve done that twice in my life, and I’m not afraid to do it again.”
One conversation Triebold says the board shouldn’t even entertain is the buzz suggesting Penn State go private, now that the governor has proposed deep cuts to funding – attempting to slice the university’s nearly in half. More responsible spending decisions can be made, she said, rather than hasty decisions.
“Penn State going private is just wrong. There’s no justification for it at all,” Triebold said. “We are the land-grant university – and that’s it.”
As former health-education instructor and gymnastics athletic trainer at Penn State and the wife of Buzz Triebold, Penn State’s director of environmental health and safety, Triebold realizes the importance of higher education and time spent at Penn State for the students. More emphasis needs to be placed on finding a way to offer students the highest-quality education at the lowest price, she said.
Her sticking point is change, and Triebold says she stands out where it matters to make a difference.
“I think we have enough lawyers and company presidents,” she said. “I want to be a representative voice on the board for the average person who has pride in the past, present and future of Penn State.”