Two months ago, state Auditor General Jack Wagner proposed changes to the leadership structure at Penn State University. However, Wagner’s term expires this month and will be unable to see his plan come to fruition. Onward State was able to interview his successor, Eugene DePasquale, to learn what changes the new Accountant-in-Chief would support. DePasquale represented York, PA in the Pennsylvania General Assembly for eight years.
Onward State: Your predecessor, Jack Wagner suggested changes to the Penn State Board of Trustees. Which changes would you enact?
Eugene DePasquale: The Auditor General doesn’t enact; he recommends. Yes, I agree with Jack Wagner’s suggestions. There is legislation in the State Legislature. There was breakdown in the Board of Trustees. Reform is needed so that breakdown doesn’t happen again.
OS: Which changes of Jack Wagner’s suggestions are do you believe are unnecessary or unneeded?
ED: Making Penn State part of the open records law is the suggestion that’s the most important. If there are better reforms, they can come through the legislative process.
OS: Do you believe that the leadership at Penn State will be cooperative to changes to the Board of Trustees, or will the Commonwealth need to push for reform?
ED: The initial push will come from the Commonwealth. The leadership at Penn State knows there is need for reform. They need to do a better job at being open and transparent.
OS: Is Penn State a public university or a semi-public university?
ED: Penn State is not state-owned; it’s state-related. It’s in a hybrid position and receives federal and state tax dollars. The university is a cooperative partner with the state. It’s hybrid situation is rather unique, as there are only three other state-related schools: Pitt, Temple, and Lincoln.
OS: What changes does the university need to make in how it responds to Right-to-Know laws?
ED: I was one of the first legislators to introduce legislation about this. Penn State receives taxpayer money and it is important on being transparent to show how dollars are being spent. If a request is filed to receive information, the University should comply as soon as possible.
OS: Moving away from Penn State, do you believe that renewable energy can aid the debt crisis/deficit of the Commonwealth?
ED: Renewable energy is good for the economy and the environment. I’m not sure it would solve Pennsylvania’s deficit. However, more jobs would lead to more revenue.
OS: Do you support the Attorney’s General-elect, Kathleen Kane, inquiry into how her predecessor Tom Corbett handled the investigation of Jerry Sandusky?
ED: It is important she takes a fresh look it was done right. I won’t handle the details of the case. It is important for her to fulfill her commitment to the voters.
OS: Has higher education in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania been treated unfairly by the Corbett administration?
ED: Across the board, for education and higher education. These are not smart decisions for the future of the Commonwealth. The administration’s cuts to higher cuts will hurt middle-class families with higher tuition costs. Cuts to higher education are not in the interest of the Commonwealth.
OS: If you could be any dinosaur, which would you be?
ED: That’s a good question. I’d say the velociraptor. They’re fast, cunning and work well as a team.
You can follow the Auditor General-elect on Twitter at @DePasqualePA.