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Alumni Survey Results Released at Outreach Meeting, 19% Trust the Board of Trustees

The new Penn State alumni survey results are out, and they once again paint a positive picture for Penn State the institution as well as a continued reputational mess for its leadership. The numbers, presented by representatives from survey firm Strategy One, were discussed at length at today’s Board of Trustees committee meeting on Outreach, Development, and Community Relations in Hershey. The survey was taken in December 2014 before the NCAA sanctions were revoked.

Like the annual surveys have shown since 2012, Penn State alumni love their university but distrust its leadership. Of the 1,304 alumni surveyed, 96% said they were satisfied with their Penn State experience, with 78% very satisfied. Conversely, 19% said they trust the Board of Trustees and only 32% trust the administration.  The trustee trust number is up from 16% last year, a point that the Strategy One representative impressed upon, but one that trustee Ted Brown vocally rejected.

“Plus 3% in a slow race? That’s a problem,” he said. “That’s saying that the thing I trust the least is us. I take no rejoicing in plus 3% on that number. On average it should be plus 40%.” The margin of error for the survey is 2.7%.

Faculty and staff were the most trusted group, with 64%, and students and alumni came in second with 62% each.

Alumni was also asked to rank what they think President Barron’s priorities should be. The first category, at 20%, was restoring the reputation of Penn State. The second, at 13%, was affordability, with academic excellence just behind at 12%. This point devolved into a conversation, led by Brown, about how the trustees should be committed to ensuring no increase in tuition this year. Committee chair Paul Silvis said that the conversation would be premature without an in-depth discussion and advisement from a budget officer, but Brown proposed a resolution stating that commitment anyway. The language was eventually softened to say that the trustees were committed to passing “the lowest tuition increase possible,” which passed unanimously. It is unclear what this had to do with the Outreach committee, but it was a positive sentiment I suppose.

Brown wasn’t done yet, however, lamenting on the fact that the presenters skipped over the Joe Paterno statistic in the presentation. It was included in the Powerpoint, but not mentioned by the Strategy One people.

“One important statistic which was not presented was that 81% of respondents said that we should recognize Joe Paterno’s contribution,” Brown said.

You can check out the full survey results here.

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About the Author

Kevin Horne

Kevin Horne was the editor of Onward State from 2012-2014 and currently holds the position of Managing Editor Emeritus, which is a fake title he made up. He graduated from Penn State with degrees journalism and political science in 2014 and is currently seeking his J.D. at the Penn State Dickinson School of Law. A third generation Penn Stater from Williamsport, Pa., Kevin is also the president of the graduate student government. Email: [email protected]

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