UPUA Urges PA Governor To Appoint Student Trustee

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UPUA released a letter Wednesday penned by Student Body President Katie Jordan to Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf, urging him to keep with tradition and appoint a student to Penn State’s Board of Trustees.

“This dedication to ensuring the student voice is represented would speak immensely to your commitment to students across the Commonwealth,” Jordan wrote.

Pennsylvania governors have upheld this tradition for more than 45 years, using one of their designated appointees to give a student a voting voice on the Board. Most recently, Tom Corbett appointed Trustee Allie Goldstein; however, her term is nearly spent.

In the past two years, the Board has seen the addition of a student-selected voting student trustee. While this was an incredible stride for the student body, it has caused some concern that Wolf may not appoint a second student to serve on the Board. If he does not appoint a student, the student voting weight on the Board will actually decrease, as the size of the Board as a whole has increased in the past two years as well.

“Although students are represented on six of the Board’s seven committees, the true impact stems from the voting individuals of the Board,” Jordan wrote. “Students have first hand experience regarding the issues they and their peers face daily — what is working well at Penn State as well as what needs improvement — yet students make up only 5 percent of the Board’s total voting membership.”

Jordan added students have reached out to the governor’s office throughout the year advocating for Wolf to appoint a student, but have not received a response.

You can read Jordan’s full letter to Wolf below:

Dear Governor Wolf,

For the past several months I have had the honor of serving as the President of the undergraduate student government at Penn State – University Park. Through this position, I have seen first hand the important role students play in the decision-making processes at each level of the University. The idea of shared governance has been monumental in effecting change at all levels of University leadership and has served as an integral part of student leadership and growth while providing an often unnoticed perspective to decision making bodies. The Pennsylvania State University Board of Trustees serves as the highest decision making body of the University, representing nearly 100,000 students across the Commonwealth.

Although students are represented on six of the Board’s seven committees, the true impact stems from the voting individuals of the Board. Students have first hand experience regarding the issues they and their peers face daily — what is working well at Penn State as well as what needs improvement — yet students make up only 5 percent of the Board’s total voting membership.

Throughout the year, Penn State students have reached out to your office through several legislative meetings, letters, and phone calls to advocate for you to appoint a student to the Board of Trustees, but we have been met with little to no response. As the July meeting quickly approaches, we continue to urge you to honor a tradition that has benefitted both the student body and the Board as a whole for many years. The Governor’s office has helped give students an influential voice on the Board of Trustees by appointing a student as one of its six gubernatorial appointees. This tradition, a custom since 1971, extends beyond your leadership, marking 46 consecutive years and eight governors who have shown their willingness to act on behalf of student interests.

As the President of the undergraduate student body and a constituent member of the Board’s Committee on Finance, Business and Capital Planning, I encourage you to continue the tradition of appointing a student as a voting member to the Board of Trustees. This dedication to ensuring the student voice is represented would speak immensely to your commitment to students across the Commonwealth. Though Penn State issues may not be at the forefront of your office duties, we are relying on you to use your power to aide the students as we seek for our voices to be heard at the highest levels of our University’s leadership.

For the Glory —

Katie Jordan
Student Body President
University Park Undergraduate Association

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Elissa Hill

Elissa is a junior public relations major and the managing editor of Onward State. She is from Punxsutawney, PA [insert corny Bill Murray joke here] and considers herself an expert on all things ice cream. Send questions and comments via e-mail ([email protected]) and follow her on Twitter (@ElissaKHill) for more corny jokes.

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