10 Questions: Pete Khoury
Senior biology major and Council of Commonwealth Student Governments (CCSG) President Peter Khoury will replace graduate student Rodney Hughes as Student Trustee at Friday’s Board of Trustees meeting. Between his CCSG and Board of Trustees responsibilities, Khoury will become very busy and will arguably shoulder more responsibility within the university than any other student. Onward State had a chance to speak with Khoury about his new responsibilities and his plans coming into the Student Trustee position.
Not to mention the prominent role the Board of Trustees has taken in the national spotlight and discourse since firing Joe Paterno and Graham Spanier. Khoury will be joining in that spotlight and scrutiny today. To clarify, this interview was conducted before any of the scandal broke.
Onward State: You now hold two offices with some heavy responsibilities. How will you balance your responsibilities as CCSG president with those of your new position as Student Trustee, as well as your academic load?
Pete Khoury: As the current CCSG President I work closely with students from the Commonwealth Campuses to better understand their concerns and actively work with my peers and the administration to generate creative solutions. As the current Student Trustee my role is no different; I will continue to provide outstanding support and invite ideas and concerns so that I can best advocate on the Penn State Student Body’s behalf, whether that individual is a Commonwealth student, a University Park student, a graduate/professional student, international/visiting student, non-traditional student, or a student taking classes halfway around the world, we are all ONE Penn State.
I have positioned myself well academically in preparing for my leadership positions and am eternally grateful for my professors understanding as I work to aid in bettering student life and the greater Penn State community in my leadership roles. I feel that my familiarity with the University system and well established relationships with many throughout the University will prove to be paramount in moving forward and brining about positive change through these combined roles.
OS: What are the biggest challenges that face you coming into the Student Trustee position?
PK: The biggest challenge moving into the Student Trustee position would be coming up with new and innovative ways to ensure that I am able to provide outreach to students who do not always have the opportunity to share their ideas and concerns. I plan to travel when necessary to achieve this goal in ensuring that my voice is truly the voice of Penn State students. Rodney Hughes did a phenomenal job in the past three years as Student Trustee in this regard and I hope to continue to expand upon his efforts.
OS: What are you learning about the University and how it operates to fulfill your responsibilities in this position?
PK: I am learning about the University on a daily basis, and have been since I set foot on the University Park campus my freshman year. I continue to stay apprised of new projects the University is working on and stay connected to the pulse of the students.
OS: How do you think this experience will impact or change you?
PK: To be presented with this opportunity is truly an honor. I have served in leadership roles through student organizations for a number of years, but to serve on the Board is something I hope will prove to be both challenging and inspiring.
OS: Do you know which committee you will be serving on? Are there any in particular that you are interested in?
PK: I believe that all of the committees are integral to the success of the Board. I will be serving on the Committee on Campus Environment.
OS: Are there any initiatives or ideas for the university that you are planning on pursuing yet?
PK: I think that with Penn State being named as the number one recruited institution for employers, we need to consistently evaluate what it is that employers would like to see from students. This is a society where interdiciplinarity and a diverse portfolio are essential to success in life outside of Penn State. I think a step in the right direction is to first look at how we evaluate internships here at the University and the current national climate for out of the classroom experiences related to a student’s field of study. We need to work with our secondary schools to increase graduation rates and ensure that students within the state of PA have the opportunity to attend a university and hopefully take the time to look at Penn State as an affordable option for an excellent education.
OS: Budget cuts were a hot-button issue at the end of the last academic year. What do you see as the big issues facing the university now?
PK: The topic of funding for higher education has been and will continue to be a hot button issue, especially in the wake of the current state of financial uncertainty. We must work closely with our friends in Harrisburg to ensure that they fully understand the impact this University has on the state with respect to employment, support for our farmers, ground breaking research, and so much more.
OS: How will your work with the Board of Trustees differ from that with CCSG? In what ways are they similar?
PK: To be completely honest, they are very similar. In being the CCSG president I serve to advocate on behalf of Commonwealth students and still be a good steward of the University. I have, and will continue to advocate for Penn State students in all capacities in moving Penn State forward in becoming the most student-centered university in the country.
OS: Are you nervous? You can be nervous and confident at the same time. I’d be scared as hell.
PK: Some days more than others. I feel that my prior involvement with the Board will aid in the transition into my new role. One thing is for sure, Rodney did a wonderful job with his time on the Board and I am glad that I will also have his insights to learn from and his guidance in getting acquainted to the position.
OS: Finally, who’s your favorite ninja turtle/which one would you be and why?
PK: Donatello! He is certainly the least violent Ninja Turtle and always seems to use his knowledge and creativity to solve conflicts. He is part ninja, part mad scientist, very creative, and has some pretty impressive bo staff skills.