Alvin De Levie Calls For Improved ‘Town & Gown’ Relations In Board Of Trustees Bid

After growing up in Centre County with two parents employed at Penn State, Alvin de Levie graduated from the university in 1973. He went on to earn a degree from Villanova Law School in 1976 and still practices as an attorney today in State College.

With a deep-rooted connection to Penn State and the surrounding community, de Levie feels he is the perfect candidate for one of the three available alumni-elected positions on Penn State’s Board of Trustees. He sat down with Onward State to discuss his platform and the upcoming election.

He pointed toward his upbringing, which heavily featured Penn State and the borough, as an influence on his life.

“My dad was the founder of the Penn State study abroad programs and later director of the foreign studies programs,” de Levie said. “My mom worked in the language labs in Sparks Building. I remember going to my dad’s office on Saturdays, and we would go to The Corner Room. He would have a cup of coffee, and I would have a coke.”

Having spent so much of his life in State College, one of the key points of de Levie’s campaign is the promotion of a better relationship “between town and gown.” As local businesses struggle to recover from the pandemic, de Levie sees cooperation between campus and the surrounding community as a helpful opportunity for both sides.

“I think the university and State College can complement each other,” de Levie said. “You can walk down College Ave. now, and it’s coming back. But the types of stores we have are different. There are many that are closed down. There are many that are hanging on by the string.”

De Levie added that he’s already met with State College Mayor Ron Filippelli and the Borough Planning and Managing Directors on a two-hour Zoom call to discuss several initiatives.

He noted some specific plans suggested included a new “gateway” to the university where Hammond Building will be torn down, along with one on the west side of campus on Atherton Street. De Levie said that ideas such as ice skating rinks or amphitheaters in those areas would help promote off-campus visits from those living or working on campus.

“Penn State staff don’t go into town as much anymore. They can get everything they want on campus,” de Levie noted.

In terms of on-campus initiatives, de Levie said he will also push for changes there if elected. He added that on-campus locations for local businesses, such as Irving’s, would be beneficial for the community’s growth.

De Levie’s love for community and the Nittany Lions runs deep — he was at one point a batboy for the baseball team and even grew up near Joe Paterno. With this in mind, he’s calling for the restoration of the famed Paterno statue and the former football head coach’s legacy as a whole.

“What I think people have to realize — the legacy of Joe and Sue Paterno is not just football,” de Levie said. “Joe and Sue Paterno helped fund the College of Liberal Arts’ classics department. Sue has donated heavily, and I was out distributing food a couple of weeks ago to the food banks for students in need of food.”

De Levie added that restoring the family’s legacy at Penn State is more than just putting the statue back up. It’s recognizing how much they’ve done for the university as a whole.

“I want to honor them, but I think we have to do it successfully in a way where it’s not just about the statue,” de Levie said. “It’s about what they’ve done for Penn State and what Sue still does. I think it would cause healing and allow us to turn the page, but it’s not just about what Joe did for football and his wins.”

Outside of improving those local relationships and recognizing the Paternos, de Levie is well aware of the affordability issues students face. Like the five other candidates running for seats on the board, de Levie said taking concrete steps to make Penn State more affordable is key.

First, de Levie noted that a productive step in this direction would be to lower in-state and out-of-state tuitions for children of Penn State alumni.

“It might be difficult,” de Levie said. “But unless you raise, propose, and discuss things, nothing is going to happen. I’ve gotten a lot of encouragement on that suggestion, and I want to study that.”

De Levie added that Penn State has a “huge amount of administrative bloat.” He feels the proportion of administrators to faculty, teachers, and graduate students is way too high.

“We have to cut costs. We can get rid of administrative bloat without reducing the number of teachers and faculty,” de Levie said. “I’ve made proposals to at least start the discussion.”

De Levie said that his platform will remain connected to his love for Penn State and the surrounding community. Overall, he wants to continue to spark discussion on these issues the university will face in the coming years.

Voting for this year’s trustee election will close at 9 a.m. on Thursday, May 6. Eligible alumni can request ballots through this online form.

Editor’s note: De Levie’s interview is the latest in multi-part series that aims to feature alumni running for open seats on the Board of Trustees. Onward State does not, and will not, endorse any candidate(s) in this election. Check back next week to read more about the six candidates vying for spots on the board this election cycle.

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About the Author

Will Pegler

Will is a senior majoring in digital and print journalism and is an associate editor for Onward State. He is from Darien, Connecticut and is a lifelong Penn State football fan. He loves a good 80's comedy movie, Peaky Blinders, The Office, and the New York Yankees and Giants. You can catch some of his ridiculous sports takes on his Twitter @gritdude and yell at him on his email [email protected]

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