Luke Metaxas, a rising junior with a knack for business, is the first student-selected student trustee to serve on the Board of Trustees. Metaxas was approved at the BoT meeting in May, and will officially step into his role in July. Though Metaxas is not the first student to serve on the Board, he is the first to be selected for the codified position by a committee made up entirely of students without final approval from the governor’s office, thanks to governance changes within the Board. We checked in with Luke to see what this appointment means to him and how he’s preparing to take his seat as a part of Penn State’s governing body.
Onward State: Tell us about yourself. Why did you decide to come to Penn State?
Luke Metaxas: I am pursuing a double major in IST and Supply Chain, and I have enjoyed being involved in various types of student organizations and activities. Today, I find myself fascinated with student entrepreneurship and academic policy. I am not sure what I would like to do after college yet though. For fun, I love meeting new people, watching movies, working out, playing chess, and spending time with friends. I chose Penn State because it has so much to offer: The many different communities, the endless opportunities to get involved, the fantastic alumni and professors, and the connections to the community and to the job market. No matter who you are and what you are passionate about, it is here, so I knew I would find my home.
OS: What made you apply for the position, and what was the application process like?
LM: I have grown so much at Penn State, and with my remaining time, I wanted to give something back. I saw the opportunity to apply for student trustee and felt it was a great way for me to contribute. The prospect of being selected to this position excited me, as I anticipated it would allow me to continue to explore different perspectives and personalities within the student body, faculty, and alumni, and to advocate on behalf of others. The application included several short essay questions. After I submitted my application, I was excited to hear I was selected to continue to the next phase of the selection process which consisted of three more interviews. The process concluded with my name being recommended to and approved by the full Board during the May meeting.
OS: What are some of the duties your new position entails?
LM: My new position will require me to fully engage as a trustee for Penn State. Even though I am a student, my duties are the same as the other trustees on the Board. I must stay informed, attend meetings, express relevant concerns, and vote based on what is best for the future success of Penn State. As a student trustee however, I will also be very focused on providing student viewpoints to the Board.
OS: Seeing as you’re the first student-selected student trustee, what does this honor mean to you, and what kind of step is this for student government?
LM: The student-selected trustee was a joint initiative by the Penn State student governments. Many individuals worked rigorously to codify the position that I now hold. I feel very grateful to have this opportunity. It is exciting to know the student perspective will continue to have a place on this Board, and I am dedicated to ensuring that we build a future for this position that is sustainable and helpful toward the betterment of this university. As the first individual in this position, I hope to set a positive example and honor the work of the individuals that made this position a reality.
OS: How do you plan to represent the student body? What one student interest in particular do you think needs to be protected or brought to light?
LM: It is impossible to represent all students at Penn State, but I can do my best to express the student body’s position overall. I hope to continuously grow my understanding of the student body by seeking diverse viewpoints. This can be done through events and meetings, interviews, research, surveys, and many other methods. I aspire to constantly be involved in many aspects of student life, actively explore perspectives, and bring student input to the Board. Regarding a student interest, one of the concerns of students is the need to improve, create, and protect student engagement opportunities. When students are involved in organizations, they are connected to their interests, have a support network of other students, and have the opportunity to grow while positively impacting society. THON is a perfect example of the potential impact student organizations can have on Penn State and the community. Unfortunately, a lack of money is the primary reason why many organizations stop growing. Fundraising assistance and resources are needed for student organizations to help them continuously grow. I would support this cause as well as trying to create more engagement opportunities.
OS: How well do you think the Board works together? How do you see yourself integrating into that?
LM: I am new to this position, but I hope to see an environment where opinions are shared and decisions are reached with Penn State’s well-being in mind. To integrate, I will be reaching out to Board members to hear their backgrounds and viewpoints. I feel it is very important to understand why members vote the way they vote, regardless of whether I agree or disagree.
OS: There’s been some tension between some members of the Board and the University in regards to obtaining documents used in the Freeh report. In your opinion, should the documents be released, or do you think that the individuals interviewed would become targets, as is the opinion of the university?
LM: Both sides of this debate have excellent points, and I recognize where they are coming from with their statements. At this time however, I do not have enough information to personally take a stance on this topic. After my term starts on July 1, I will have access to more information and perspectives. As always, I will try to bring the current and future student perspective to the table as well.
OS: What are some changes that you think the Board needs to see?
LM: It is difficult to answer this question as a new member of the Board. However, I can share what I hope to see during my two-year term. First, I believe it is essential that the Board is a unified body. There will always be different opinions, but I hope to see the Board striving to reach compromises for highly debated issues. Second, I hope to see an environment where opinions are constantly being shared and valued. Lastly, I would love to see more connections between students and Board members. As times change so do the needs and concerns of the students. Finding ways to keep in touch with student mindsets such as attending student events, seeking student input, and offering to be a resource can be helpful for the entire Board.
OS: What are some of the overall impacts you plan to make during your tenure?
LM: There are several impacts I hope to make as a student trustee. One of my primary goals is to motivate students to follow Penn State news and issues and to express their opinions. Heavy student engagement in university administration will help improve the success rate of various initiatives. This requires a certain environment, and Penn State has this environment. However, I hope to help further develop Penn State into a university where students not only have a significant voice but can get involved with initiatives easily. Finally, I hope to accurately express student viewpoints and bring new insights to the Board.
OS: If you could be a dinosaur, which one would you be and why?
LM: A Pterodactyl! Flying around during the time of the dinosaurs would not only be incredibly fun, it would enable me to see everything in perspective. One of my primary goals is to travel and experience the world…being a Pterodactyl would be a great way to accomplish that goal. Additionally, I would be able to see everyone’s habitat, how it works together, and how to best survive, which is very much how I like to be as an individual. I enjoy taking in information through listening and observation, and then making the best decision I can.