JOSEPH V "JAY" PATERNO
TRUSTEE PENN STATE BOARD OF TRUSTEES
February 19, 2021 --WE ARE--A Statement on the Lasch Building Vote Today
This afternoon I will be voting against the resolution for the Lasch building. This decision was not made lightly. The next few paragraphs are to explain this vote.
We are Penn State….”WE” is the best of all pronouns.
For many years WE ARE Penn State has identified us and drawn us together. Certainly Saturday afternoon or Saturday night football games see us united in chanting WE ARE. That cheer echoes far beyond the stadium confines and is part of the everyday lives for all who love this place.
No one denies that.
But in these challenging times WE must realize this: WE must bind all elements of this University in common cause.
Over the past year our administration and our Board have asked our University to make difficult sacrifices. Employees have been furloughed, academic budgets have been cut. Salaries have been frozen or slashed. Maintenance on buildings has been postponed, and proposed academic building projects have been put on hold.
Now we are being asked to borrow and allocate $48 million to make additions to a football building that has already undergone $36 million in renovations that included the desired recruiting updates—a new lobby, locker room, player lounge and academic support center.
And by the time the next phase is done we will have spent $105 million on this building. Some have advocated spending even more.
At the same time WE have students sleeping in the Hub at night, we have students who are hungry. We battle to make Penn State more affordable. We have a moral obligation to do that.
How do we look the people we are asking to make sacrifices in the eye and then borrow and spend this money?
Yes borrowing money is cheap now, but it is not free. Yes we can characterize this as an investment in the future. Yes other schools are spending a lot, but we are has always meant we lead on our own better path.
Around the country there is universal agreement that the future foundation of the amateur college athletics model is at best uncertain. Others would argue that it is ending.
Yes borrowing money is an investment. But right now we lack the certainty of what our revenues will be in the next ten months, let alone what we face with potential changes in college athletics across the country. The future revenue model to repay this money is shrouded in an uncertain fog.
We also have investments to make in Beaver Stadium that will likely involve more staggering numbers.
Many of us objected to spending on other non-student-centered projects like the proposed art museum and the eight-figure price tag for the private elevator for the president’s football suite.
When times are tough, we should remind ourselves that WE all must be patient, we must all pay a price in the short-term to benefit all of us over the long-term.
A year from now we can emerge from both Covid and the daunting changes in college athletics—better standing able to see the far horizon.
The actions we’ve taken this past year for this University have been difficult; more difficult challenges await us.
As members of this board, we have an obligation to this University that lasts long beyond our lifetimes.
There will be a time when our eyes will no longer be open to see the next day’s dawn—but there will be future students and faculty whose destiny will be shaped by what we do now.
With that as our guidance, we would do well to postpone this project to gauge the entire scope of needs we have in athletics --and more importantly the scope of needs across the academic and research mission that is the very reason for our existence as an institution.
And to end on one last point.
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is our home, it is our partner and it is where we draw our strength. People across this commonwealth have lost jobs, people are standing in lines at food banks and can’t pay their rent.
So we must remind ourselves of this fact:
WE ARE does not end at our campus boundary.
Our own television ad states
Wherever you are
We are with you.
We are Penn State.”
Today’s vote will signal to our students, faculty, staff and the people of Pennsylvania if we are truly with you…always.
Trustee Election Statement
May 8, 2020
First, thanks to all the people who voted and participated in this Trustee Election. It was an honor to be re-elected this year.
This year we saw a significant rise in the number of votes cast. That is a reflection of our alumni and their love for and interest in Penn State during these uncertain times.
The weeks and months ahead will mean difficult decisions in a time of societal and economic changes. At Penn State we expect a commitment to excellence and the pursuit of success with honor, even when faced with daunting challenges. My hope is that I live up to the trust you’ve placed in me with your vote.
Our students, alumni, faculty and staff are facing uncertain times. Our job is to be your voice and every day we serve may we never forget that. The men and women of this Commonwealth and beyond have placed a trust in this University. We will work to be a positive force towards each new dawn for Penn State, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the world.
2020 Trustee Election Statement
Tough Times Mean Back To The Basics: Our Land-Grant Mission
A lot has happened in this country and here at Penn State since we submitted our Trustee Election Statements in late February. That is why we are taking the time for an update.
Historically, Penn State has endured tough economic times by focusing on this University’s core Land-Grant Mission, the very foundation of all we’ve done since 1855. Today we are called to do that once again. Our service to Penn State starts with that understanding.
With the added challenge of a global pandemic, decisions must also be driven by concerns for the safety of our students, faculty, staff and also the communities that neighbor all of our campuses. Everyone in this country must play a part and our University has a chance to be a leader.
Since the onset of this pandemic, the administration has consulted experts and sought feedback and input from the Board. It has been a time of constructive and productive engagement. But greater challenges await us, many with potentially long-lasting consequences.
The next several months and years are going to require real leadership and vision from this Board.
NOW more than ever EXPERIENCE MATTERS.
Our mission starts with educating students and continues through job placement where we’ve been a national leader. In the immediate future we must commit our first financial resources to that mission.
For the past few years we’ve held the line on in-state tuition, but to protect our core mission we’ll push to freeze all tuition. Yes we have more financial challenges now, but we must look inward for answers. The solutions we need to make Penn State more efficient at delivering our Land-Grant promise are here. We control our own destiny and now more than ever we will need experienced, engaged and committed Trustees.
Our Land-Grant mission also includes our service to the Commonwealth. From our commonwealth campuses, agricultural extension, innovation hubs, research and world campus we’ve been an engine of economic growth and stability for Pennsylvania. That too, must continue. The farmers, workforce and citizens of Pennsylvania need a strong Penn State.
While we’re proud to have helped take on the challenges of the past three years, they pale in comparison to what we face ahead. This Board of Trustees must be a rock of stability and integrity. Our Board must remain vigilant and engaged in our responsibility to this University’s future, a future represented by our students, alumni, faculty and staff.
A great coach and man always reminded us “When you get knocked down, think about getting up on the way down.” Getting up won’t be easy, there will be stumbles. It will be a steep and rocky ascent but if we do our part we will reach the summit once again.
It has been an honor to serve Penn State. Today we ask for your vote to continue leading through the next three years of change and challenge.
2020 Trustee Election Statement
February 25, 2020
At the 2017 Trustee Election Candidates’ Forum I stated: “I’m going to come in and extend an open hand. If they extend an open hand we’ll work together and make things happen.”
That path has proven fruitful. I supported initiatives to freeze in-state tuition and never voted to raise in-state tuition. In November 2017 I stood alone publicly calling out the board’s lack of diversity and lagging diversity indicators University-wide. That sparked board-level diversity and inclusion efforts for the board, students, faculty and staff.
We’ve worked together on key issues but big legacy issues are looming. Legacy issues require a sense of our University’s proud history and my life was spent learning from our University’s most visionary leaders.
This Board faces major decisions impacting our future. In coming years we’ll make decisions on our President, transformative campus building projects, the evolving delivery of on-line and Commonwealth Campus education, Penn State Health, Beaver Stadium and an existential challenge to the financial model for Intercollegiate athletics.
While we’ve held the line on in-state tuition, it’s time to find ways to reduce it. It’s time to end the Harrisburg blame game and understand we control the next generation’s destiny by finding internal efficiencies and savings. We should expand affordable tuition programs for our alumni legacy children. They are family and they belong here.
Being elected to Penn State’s Board of Trustees is and should always be a call to service, to represent first and foremost the interests of Penn State and its diverse coalition of constituents --the students, alumni, faculty, staff and friends of this great University.
As Pennsylvania’s Flagship University we’re still rooted in the Morrill Act enacted by Congress and signed into law by President Abraham Lincoln. For over a century and a half that call to service has crossed generations. From the Delaware River to Lake Erie and from the Alleghenies to the Poconos together we can create and inspire excellence for Penn State and the Commonwealth.
While we’ve done a lot to carry your voices on this Board more work remains as we chart the future course for Penn State. I ask for your vote to continue serving Penn State.