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Trustee Candidate Barbara Doran Seeks To Help Penn State ‘Soar To New Heights’

Despite already serving on the Penn State Board of Trustees for nearly 10 years now, Barbara Doran knows her work isn’t done yet. This spring, she’s running for re-election one last time.

Doran’s impressive resume includes attending Harvard Business School, working more than 35 years on Wall Street, and running her own wealth advisory and investment management firm. However, she still dedicates a large portion of her time and heart to Penn State.

While studying English at Penn State, Doran wrote for the Daily Collegian and served as a pillar in helping to extend the newspaper’s sports coverage.

“Those days, they were not covering women’s sports. So, I went to the Editor-in-Chief and asked why. I said, ‘I’ll write about the sports I play in, then,’” Doran said. 

Doran played field hockey, basketball, and lacrosse during her time as a student. She’s also had the distinguished honor of being the first Penn State woman to ever make the U.S. women’s lacrosse team. Doran said she’s been amazed at the growth Penn State has made as a university since she was a student here, and part of what inspires her to serve on the Board of Trustees is the desire to continue to make the university excel in every way possible.

After the Jerry Sandusky scandal shook the entire Penn State community — and the world, for that matter — Doran realized that great change needed to be brought to the university. She was elected the following year in 2013 to the Board of Trustees. Her experience in various committees on the Board runs deep, as she’s served time on everything from finance committees, to governance committees, to the now newly formed equity and human resources committee.

“Serving on the Equity and Human Resources committee is a really big deal, and has been a big honor to me. We’ve always had all sorts of [diversity, equity, and inclusion] initiatives, but we really needed to take a more thorough look at them. So, back in 2020, Brandon Short was made chair of this new committee,” Doran said. “We met weekly at 7 a.m. for months and months during a really important time in our world. We still meet on a regular basis to hear updates about all of these things. We ask the important questions, and we find out the important answers.”

Doran also said, while serving on the Board, she’s continued to push more for the inclusion of women, and people of color, in attempts to make the board, administration, and the university as a whole more equitable and fair. As chair of an outreach committee, Doran’s also been tasked with finding ways to increase alumni engagement. One small task, like livestreaming meetings, wasn’t previously available until recently. Doran says it’s pivotal in making sure more voices are heard, no matter where they may be coming from in the world.

Perhaps though, one of the biggest projects Doran has gotten to be a part of in recent years has been serving on the Presidential Search Committee, which had been tasked with searching for a future replacement for outgoing President Eric Barron. 

The university announced in December that Neeli Bendapudi would succeed Barron, but Doran said that searching for a replacement for Barron had actually been in the works for quite some time. 

“We had started that process of looking for a replacement for a couple of years ahead of his retirement date. We were lucky enough to know that information ahead of time. Through surveys, focus groups, and the opinions of students, faculty, and staff, we were able to really narrow down what we thought the university needed in a president,” Doran said.

Doran said Bendapudi impressed the committee thanks to her opinions and ideas for plenty of topics, including fundraising, supporting Commonwealth Campuses, athletics, and more.

“I think Neeli is a first-rate candidate. She’s already starting initiatives. She’s gone through about half the Commonwealth campuses,” Doran said. “I think everyone should be very excited about the future under her leadership. She’s innovative, she’s dynamic, she’s experienced, and she knows how to get things done.”

Having one last chance to serve on the Board of Trustees will give Doran the opportunity to continue to try to tackle one of the most important issues when it comes to college and continued education: affordability. 

“There are always ongoing issues. But I think you’ll hear from a lot of people, that the number one issue is the affordability of a first-rate, high quality, Penn State education. It is always uppermost in our minds,” Doran said. “Our support from the state has dropped significantly over the years. We love the support we get, but it’s not enough. Tuition is really the prime driver. It’s very hard to cut tuition, but we’ve kept it flat for three years in a row, and that’s after 41 years of consecutive increases. It’s a start.”

Doran hopes with more years on the board, and under Bendapudi’s leadership, that the resources Penn State currently has can be taken to a whole new level. She also hopes to see Penn State’s athletic program continue to soar to new heights, also under the leadership of a new athletic director as Sandy Barbour is set to retire this summer. 

“Sandy was a powerhouse. She worked tirelessly over the years to get herself on national committees. An athletic director not only has to be a great spokesperson for intercollegiate athletics, but also the university,” Doran said. “We want someone next from a big athletic program, who knows all the issues, who really can be a visionary and forward thinker.”

Doran said in her position statement, that Penn State’s alumni network is what truly has helped the university grow to the point it’s at today. If re-elected, Doran hopes to continue to make this tremendous growth reach even higher heights.

“With a new president coming in, we can build on the immense resources and platform of our storied alma mater, Penn State,” Doran said. “We have educated generations of Penn Staters and have more CEOs and leaders making a difference in the world than almost any other. We have 700,000-plus alumni, whose loyalty and commitment are second to none.”

Voting for this year’s trustee election will close at 9 a.m. on Thursday, May 5. Eligible alumni can request ballots through this online form.

Editor’s note: Doran’s interview is the latest in a 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 out our site to read more about the eight candidates vying for spots on the board this election cycle.

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About the Author

Ryen Gailey

Ryen is a senior early childhood education major from "right outside of Philly" - or in exact words, from 23.0 miles outside of Philly. She loves all things Penn State and has been a huge Penn State gal since before she could walk. Send her pictures of puppies, or hate mail at [email protected]

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