Thoughts on PSU Finances and Privatization

In view of the declining state appropriations, what steps should Penn State take to secure its financial future?

Review ALL budget items at department level, and direct every department to identify and prioritize cost saving measures, with the directive of a 10% reduction in costs to each department.  If a department is unable to accomplish this, they must identify the reasons and justifications that they are unable to accomplish this goal.

Initiate a cost saving competition for all faculty, staff, students, alumni to identify areas of waste and areas where streamlining services can be accomplished.  Reward outstanding contributions with a notable prize and recognition for their contribution to the future of the University.

Institute a group or committee charged specifically with the task of working closely with legislators to emphasize and explain our need for state funds and the benefit that state funding renders to the Commonwealth’s economic well-being.  Identify ways that legislators benefit by the contributions Penn State makes to their local constituency.  We need to help Harrisburg understand why their appropriations benefit everyone in PA—not just the students and employees of Penn State.

Steps I believe Penn State should take to address rising cost of tuition

First, I recommend a moratorium on building of new facilities.  Even though many of the new facilities have been built with the use of private donations (which makes us look like a private university with donor’s names on the facility), the cost of maintenance, staffing, and operation gets absorbed by the general budget which explains why our operating budgets are ballooning.

Initiate an exploration with other universities to address how they have managed to keep their tuition down—investigate and implement ideas that have worked.

Initiate an exploration with other major corporations to address cost saving measures .

Penn State has a wealth of alumni who have tremendous knowledge leading profitable organizations.  Formation of a group separate and apart from the board of trustees to make independent suggestions of improvement should be sought.

What form should Penn State’s land grant mission take in the 21st century?

As the original land grant university for the commonwealth, our mission is to serve the citizens and promote the economy and well being of a well educated society within the state.  As Penn State has grown, our reach has gone far beyond the boundaries of Pennsylvania.  However, I believe that our first responsibility is to educate the students of Pennsylvania.  Exploration of the reasons Penn State has the highest tuition compared to other land grant universities is of utmost importance.

While Penn State’s administration and board of trustees have played a role in furthering problems with the appropriation of state funds, beginning with more and more campaigns for private donations, and what appears to be an unbridled growth of building and acquisition of the physical plant at the main campus and commonwealth campuses, we ARE THE—I REPEAT—THE Land Grant university deserving of the lion’s share of monies available from state funds. Penn State must deal more honestly and openly with State government to accomplish this goal.  Closed books do not encourage the state to open the purse strings—opening the purse strings means demonstrating the cost benefits to the Commonwealth’s economy.  Conversely, we need to demonstrate the loss to the commonwealth if Penn State is “private.”

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