The president of the university, governor of Pennsylvania, Penn State alumni and one student currently fill seats on the Board of Trustees. But one group’s presence is loudly missing on Penn State’s governing board — faculty.
Faculty members have noticed that absence and want the situation to be remedied.
University Faculty Senate members voted Tuesday to endorse a report that is recommending faculty representation on the board, and they are right in wanting to be represented in the university’s most powerful governing body.
The current structure of the board, requiring some trustees to represent agricultural societies and business and industry, is not beneficial to the university. Emphasis should be placed on their qualification to serve on a university’s governing body rather than to serve the group they represent.
Many members of the board are very successful in their careers, but being able to run a business does not mean that they know how to run a university any better than the average person.
Having business experience is very different than having a wealth of knowledge about higher education.
Most of the alumni on the board graduated several decades ago. Life on campus is different now than it was when they attended Penn State. Even if they visit the university every few months, it would be difficult to grasp the mood on campus in one weekend before returning to their respective homes.
With the exception of students, who knows more about what is happening on campus than the faculty?
The faculty recognize the effects of the board’s decisions because they are involved in the operation of the university on a day-to-day basis.
Our professors and instructors talk to us every day and know our perspective. The board should know how the faculty feels on issues and the faculty should play a direct role in board decisions. The faculty position could be a great complement to the student who sits on the board.
There is no denying that the board should have representatives with business skills considering it has an operating budget of more than $4 billion but that expertise is useless without a real understanding of the reality of life on campus each day.