First-time Penn State Board of Trustees candidate Kathleen Pavelko landed the top spot on the ballot for this spring’s election, when candidates participated in a drawing at the Penn Stater Conference Center Hotel to determine the order their names will appear.
Pavelko, Class of 1975, is the president and CEO of WITF Public Media in Harrisburg, she said. She believes she has a broader range of experiences with the university than other candidates, she said.
The candidate earned both bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Penn State, served twice as a board member for Penn State Public Broadcasting, taught as an adjunct faculty member in the then-School of Communications and served on Penn State Harrisburg’s Advisory Board, she said.
Both Pavelko and candidate Jeffrey Goldsmith, Class of 1982, said the board should include leaders from agriculture and business — but it’s unnecessary for industry members to select them. Goldsmith said that would keep them accountable to serve the interests of Penn State rather than their respective industries.
Goldsmith said students should have official, permanent representation on the board. Historically, the governor chooses to appoint a carefully vetted student.
Board Vice Chair Stephanie Deviney and board member Paul Suhey are alumni-elected incumbents whose terms expire this year, as previously reported. Former chairman Steve Garban’s position was never filled after he resigned amid criticism, as previously reported.
Deviney said she drew the 12-spot — her lucky number. Her 8-year-old son’s birthday is on December 12, she said. She said she believes the board’s unanimous election of her to the position of vice-chair is a testament to her leadership style.
“I hope alumni recognize the importance of having an alumni-elected trustee in a leadership position on the board, as well as the importance of established relationships and knowledge of how the university and the board operate,” she said.
Deviney said changes to the board’s governance are her No. 1 priority, and she has complete confidence in the governance committee’s review of the recommendations the board has received from all its constituents. She said the committee is expected to come forward with a package of changes in March.
Trustee Paul Suhey said the board is in the middle of making sweeping changes to its governance — changes that will ultimately make Penn State one of the best-governed universities in the country. He acknowledged the board made some mistakes, but it made painful decisions with the interest of the whole university in mind, he said.
“We’re going to have to regain the trust of our alumni and continue to educate them on why we made the decisions that we made and why we have to move forward,” Suhey said of his priorities for a second term.
“We’ve learned a lot from it, but we need to continue to be stronger, and we need to progress ahead,” he said.
He said he’s told he earned the number four spot on the ballot.
Pratima Gatehouse moved up to second on the ballot from the number 69 spot she had when she ran unsuccessfully last year. Gatehouse said all of her reasons for running last year remain. She stressed she’s not a one-issue candidate, but she said her focus is on keeping tuition down and fiscal responsibility. Gatehouse said she has been involved in the university community in ways other candidates haven’t.
“Not only can I want change, but I can actually affect it,” Gatehouse said.
Paula Ammerman, director of the Office of the Board of Trustees, said the process to determine the order of candidates on the ballot involves two drawings. As candidates or their representatives arrive, they will participate in the first drawing, which decides the picking order candidates have in the second drawing. That one actually determines the candidates’ positions on the ballot, Ammerman said.
There are 39 candidates for the alumni-elected seats, Ammerman said — that’s less than half the 86 candidates who ran in last year’s election. The number of voters who submitted ballots to nominate candidates also decreased from last year, Ammerman said.
Alumni will cast their ballots between April 10 and May 2, Ammerman said. Winners will be announced at the May 3 Board of Trustees meeting.