Friday, March 28, 2008

My Endorsements

No not those endorsements. It's time for Penn State alumni to vote for alumni trustees. This year there are nine candidates, three of whom are incumbents, running for three positions. They are
It's a weak field. So who should an alumnus vote for?

Let's begin with whom you shouldn't vote for: the incumbents.

No matter what you think of Arnelle,who's served for 39 years and of whom I can say both good and bad things, and Meyers, who's served for 27 years and of whom I could only say bad things, their time to go has come. It is time for fresh blood. In fact, the BOT instituted 15 year limits for elected trustees in 2002, but didn't start the clock on sitting trustees until their next election.

On the other hand, Alexander has only served a single term as a trustee. Hence she shouldn't be automatically eliminated from consideration. She hold a Ph.D. from Maryland (Her BS is from PSU.) Which might make her more attuned to the academic world, but a closer look at her resume suggests otherwise.

She only had a brief academic career. She spent most of her working life at the head of the Public Leadership Education Network (PLEN) and was for a short time chair of Women Administrators in Higher Education (WAHE). Both organizations are set up to help women make work world connections of one type or another. Nothing here suggests that she would have any special understanding of the academy. And the fact that both of these organization focus on helping women make connections to advance their careers is bothersome to me. I have to wonder if she understands that a great university must be built on real achievements and not just connections.

The real deal breaker for is that she served on the Penn State Alumni Council from 1996-2007 and was President of the Alumni Association from 2003 to 2005. These organizations are controlled by Graham and I've long suspected that he uses them to groom future trustees. The final straw for this camel is that her platform could have been written by him.

Service on the Alumni Council also rules out Uhlig. Dywer who started his career with MBNA Bank in State College is pushing his close working ties with the Alumni Association and his work in helping Graham with his building campaign. That pretty much nixes him.

That leaves Erdman, Silvis, Guadagnino, and McCracken.

None of these guys has anything in their resumes which would disqualify them because of a close association with Graham or his policies. But McCracken's resume is a little too concrete.
Currently Vice President for ECOR Solutions, Inc. in West Chester PA, Tom has participated in high profile projects while pursuing his career; first in construction with Santa Fe International Corporation, and then in Environmental Remediation. Initially producing concrete railroad crossties as a field engineer in Boston, to building the 7-Mile Concrete Segmental Bridge in the Florida Keys as Project Engineer, to constructing a nickel mine in Australia as Assistant Project Manager, Tom has built upon the foundation of education he received at Penn State. After doing site testing for the first hi-level nuclear waste repository in Nevada, Tom became involved in environmental remediation of some most contaminated Superfund Sites.
There's not much here to suggest that he has any particular skills suitable for a trustee.

The process of elimination leads to my endorsement of Erdman, Silvis, and Guadagnino and they may not be too bad.

Silvis is a founder of Restek which has a reputation of being a very democratic work place. Perhaps he could bring a bit of that to Penn State.

Guardagnino is a corporate lawyer that helped to disentangle Hershey Medical Center from its merger with Geisinger Health System. That merger was Graham's first big fuck up at Penn State. My guess is that Guardagnino learned a lot about Graham during the dissolution of the merger and none of it was good. That woud be a big positive. He also specializes in complex financial arrangements. All the better to dig deep into the Penn State budget.

Finally, Erdman is an engineer who has worked closely with the college of engineering, but he has no ties to Old Main. That's about it. At worst he'd be a place marker until someone better comes along.

Click here for information on how to vote for Erdman, Silvis, and Guardagninio.

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