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Ted Brown Harnesses Penn State Passion Through Trustee Re-Election Campaign

With nearly 10 years of service on Penn State’s Board of Trustees already under his belt, Ted Brown is running for re-election one final time to further his impact on the university and surrounding community.

Brown, a 1968 Penn State graduate and a Pennsylvania Army National Guard veteran, has a professional background in crisis management, disaster recovery, and business continuity. In his 30 years with IBM, Brown led the creation of the company’s $1 billion recovery sector.

It was Brown’s background in crisis management that led him to the Board of Trustees. Brown originally ran for a seat when he saw the “mishandling of the Sandusky crisis,” as he put it. That, paired with the “mistreatment” of Joe Paterno, motivated Brown to run and make a difference.

To this day, he’s still committed to making sure Joe and Sue Paterno are properly honored for “all they did for Penn State.” That includes ideas such as bringing back the Paterno statue, naming the football stadium “Paterno Field at Beaver Stadium,” and recognizing Paterno’s commitment to academics.

“There’s already Paterno scholarships, but expanding that — reproducing Joe’s office in the library,” Brown said. “One of my favorites is renaming Park Avenue to Paterno Way as sort of a pun because it almost connects the stadium with the library and the Paterno Wing. It’s kind of a picture of what Joe stood for, which was academics first, but also success with honor in athletics.”

While Paterno’s mistreatment is what initially drew Brown to the board, his position has since blossomed into much more. One of Brown’s primary stances revolves around tuition. When he first joined the board, tuition increases were “automatic” for the previous 39 years. Despite this, he voted, by himself, against increasing tuition during his first two years as a trustee. Then, in his third year, his goal of freezing tuition became a reality.

“In my third year as a trustee, I got the entire board to vote to freeze tuition — the first time in 41 years,” Brown said. “We did it twice since, and if we had not done that, as high as tuition is, it would be 10% higher. So, I’m very proud of the fact that that clearly illustrates how one person can make a difference.”

However, Brown is still working to make tuition more affordable. He doesn’t just want to freeze tuition again, but his goal is to actually lower tuition moving forward.

Brown laid out a plan that shows the plausibility of reduced tuition. He mentioned there are over 5,000 empty seats at every Penn State Commonwealth Campus. If those seats at each campus are filled by in-state students, Brown said it would generate $90 million of additional revenue and nearly double that amount if they’re filled by out-of-state students.

“It takes $16 to $18 million [of savings] to freeze tuition,” Brown said. “Therefore, if we can generate an additional $90 million, you could see how we could reduce tuition, and at the same time, increase faculty quality, retain faculty quality, which is another thing I want to improve in the next year”

Another point of emphasis for Brown is focusing on diversity, equity, and inclusion. In a recent meeting with the audit and risk committee, he suggested a similar system be implemented to what ROTC and the nursing program in Hershey do. He thinks scholarships should be provided to underserved individuals, and, in return, those individuals commit to working for a period of time after they graduate.

“That does a lot of things,” Brown said. “That enables underserved minorities to go to college when they might not otherwise go. It helps fill job needs and increases the diversity of our staff. It’s got so many winners. Especially if we offer those scholarships at the Commonwealth Campuses in all those empty seats.”

“We should fill [some of the empty 5,000 seats at Commonwealth Campuses] with underserved minorities,” he continued. “The seats are there. I wanted to chime in my commitment, and it’s an area where Penn State needs to do a much better job.”

Should he be re-elected, Brown says he’s looking forward to working with President-elect Neeli Bendapudi. The two have formed a “fantastic relationship” in a short time that started from the day he first met Bendapudi.

Brown was impressed with Bendapudi when the two initially exchanged pleasantries. When he introduced himself, Bendapudi responded with, “Yeah, I know,” and proceeded to talk about Brown’s background in crisis management. That first impression has stuck with Brown and set the foundation for his eagerness to work with her, which has only grown over time.

“So, I’m excited because the list of why I’m excited about Neeli is long,” he said. “I’m excited because she’s well prepared. I’m excited because she’s personable. The conversation that I had with her a couple of weeks ago — I told my wife afterward that it was like talking to somebody I’d known 20 years. I was so comfortable, and so was she.”

At a recent conference Brown attended in Louisville, a student, as well as an alum of Louisville, told Brown how much they’ll miss Bendapudi at their school. Not that he needed it, but that “confirmation,” as he put it, just added to his confidence when it comes to Bendapudi’s upcoming tenure.

Brown “couldn’t be more excited” about incoming athletic director Patrick Kraft, too. He believes he’ll successfully work with Kraft on some of the goals he has when it comes to Penn State Athletics.

“[Kraft] is a very well-qualified guy,” Brown said. “He’s going to be great for our program. I’m confident that we will work with him. I have some goals in terms of athletics.”

Brown doesn’t want to replace Beaver Stadium. Instead, he hopes to fix it up and renovate it. Furthermore, he wants to add seats to the stadium, which he said can keep ticket prices down and provide a more affordable experience for families.

When it comes down to it, Brown says he purely has a passion for Penn State. He’s one of 14 members in his family to attend the university, and he remains an active member of the community to this day. Recently, he took part in the annual Paterno Family Beaver Stadium Run to help raise money for Special Olympics Pennsylvania.

He lives in State College and is often reaching out and connecting with students, as seen on his Facebook page. He frequently attends Penn State sporting events, is a football season ticket holder, and remains an “active supporter of students.” Additionally, he’s been on the floor at THON for 30 years, and his two daughters both danced in the 46-hour marathon.

“[Serving on the Board] is very important to me, and it’s an honor because I love Penn State,” Brown said. “But, it’s also because I think I have and will continue to make a difference.”

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: Brown’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

Gabe Angieri

Gabe is a senior majoring in journalism and is suddenly Onward State's managing editor. He grew up in Lindenhurst, New York, and has had the absolute misfortune of rooting for the Jets, Mets, and Knicks. If you want to see his bad sports takes, follow him on Twitter @gabeangieri and direct all hate mail and death threats to [email protected]

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