Penn State news by
Penn State's student blog



Academic Excellence & Student Success: Alice Pope Seeking Fourth Term In Board Of Trustees Election

Eyeing a fourth term on the Penn State Board of Trustees, incumbent Alice Pope is once again seeking reelection with academic excellence and student success at the forefront of her campaign.

Pope has a breadth of experience in the academic world as a three-time Penn State alumna and former university professor. The Pennslyvania native received her bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees in psychology from Penn State, worked at medical schools, and served as a professor at St. John’s for over 20 years.

With nine years of experience on the Board of Trustees, Pope’s wisdom is the continuity that President Neeli Bendapudi and many new administrators need to understand the intricacies of the complex system.

“It was my experience when I joined the board in 2014 that there’s a lot to learn,” Pope said. “This is a very, very complicated system. Our educational enterprise alone with all of the campuses, but then there’s Penn State Health now. It’s not just a School of Medicine, but we’ve got a whole health enterprise to look after. Athletics is changing by the day. That’s a lot to keep up with.”

There’s a steep learning curve in this position, she explained, and it takes time to learn the system and be confident enough to make well-informed decisions. That, however, will not be a problem for her.

Pope also noted that she’s been working with Bendapudi for nearly a year, and they already have a strong working relationship established. Pope has been a part of the Committee for Academic Affairs, Research, and Student Life since her first year on the board, which is expertise that would take a while to redevelop.

“With change, you need to have some continuity,” Pope added.

Academic excellence is one focus of Pope’s platform. With a slide in Penn State’s rankings, investing in the quality of programs and resources is necessary to be the best in academics. These conversations are already happening, according to Pope.

Going hand and hand, student success is at the top of Pope’s list, too. As a licensed clinical psychologist, Pope has a wide understanding of student mental health and why it needs to be a priority.

“If you if we want students to learn, to grow, to thrive, to graduate, mental health has to be solid and in place, and we need to step up because the need is increasing,” Pope said.

Furthermore, Pope sees a need for making student success services more accessible. University Park Undergraduate Association (UPUA), Student Affairs, and administrators are working together to create an interactive web of services — a one-stop shop — that compiles resources for first-generation students, students with disabilities, diverse populations, and more. From the minute a student is accepted to Penn State, Pope wants to ensure they know what’s available for them to thrive and have a wonderful experience.

With accessibility comes transparency, which is something Pope worked hard to expand throughout her time on the board. Pope encourages the Penn State community, including students and all stakeholders, to be informed and involved with the happenings on the Board of Trustees. Nowadays, meetings are livestreamed and agendas are available online, which reduces barriers to participation.

Over the past few months, Bendapudi has been vocal about the need for an increase in general support appropriation from the Commonwealth. Pope reiterated the importance of advocating for increased funding and mentioned the need for improving Penn State’s relationship with the Commonwealth.

“We need a better relationship with the Commonwealth because if they understand how much Penn State is contributing to the Pennsylvania economy, the extent to which we are educating the children of Pennsylvania, I think that there will be more of a felt partnership, and they’ll be willing to invest more because every dollar that they invest to Penn State comes back to the economy many times over,” Pope said.

Pope has faith and trust in Bendapudi and wants to support her as she “takes Penn State to new places, places that we’re not even imagining.” Part of that is living out Penn State’s mission in a financially responsible way and no longer running budget deficits.

In her three terms on the board, Pope has never voted for a tuition increase. While it’s not as simple as just voting “no,” trustees must rein in costs in other ways to create a more efficient system. Part of this includes things like asking for equivalent appropriation on a per-student basis, privatization of the hotels, and streamlining and centralizing processes like Human Resources.

Pope strongly addressed the hot topic that is Name, Image, and Likeness (NIL), and explained that “unequivocally, this is not a board issue or a trustee issue.”

“The NCAA has made it very clear that there are real limits on the way that university personnel may interact with that,” Pope said. “Beyond that, I will say there needs to be better and more regulation about what NIL can do and recommendations about what NIL should do. It should not be left up to individual schools to interpret it however they want.”

Pope reiterated the importance of student success and academic excellence, as student-athletes are students first.

Pope is running alongside Jay Paterno and Anthony Lubrano, two individuals she has worked with for many years. While they vote differently at times, she has a lot of respect for their institutional knowledge of their skill bases.

“I do really think that the university’s needs are best served right now by continuity of experienced trustees on the board, as we have a new president and a very new administration trying to make big changes,” Pope said.

Pope encouraged all Penn State alumni to get out and vote. She expressed that Penn Staters are loyal, supportive, and a huge part of the community that’s been created at Penn State. History, tradition, culture, and perspective are some of the most special pieces of Dear Old State.

“When we say ‘We Are,’ we’re saying that ‘We All Are Penn State,’ each of us in our own way, we celebrate each others’ achievements,” Pope said. “We help each other when we fall. We support each other. That’s what that’s about. If we’re going to be that kind of community, we need alumni to very actively come out, be involved, pay attention, find a way to be helpful and to give back, and participate in these elections because it’s a very noble responsibility.”

Voting for this year’s trustee election will close on May 4. Eligible alumni can request ballots through this online form.

Editor’s note: Pope’s interview is one of 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 seven remaining candidates vying for spots on the board throughout this year’s election cycle.

Your ad blocker is on.

Please choose an option below.

Sign up for our e-mail newsletter:
Support quality journalism:
Purchase a Subscription!

About the Author

Colleen Nersten

Colleen is a washed-up biology grad and former associate editor. Her legacy will live on through stories like “10 Questions With State College Sensation ‘Hot UPS Bae’”. If you’re a STEM girlie, this is your sign to take the leap of faith and learn to write. It’s pretty fun. Colleen misses the hate mail and can be reached at [email protected] or via LinkedIn.

Follow Your Heart, It’ll All Work Out: Brady Miller’s Senior Column

“This was home, and this is where I needed to be. I wanted to be the first from my family to attend and graduate from the school that has been such a big part of our lives.”

[Photo Story] Paul Johnson Rolls Through Happy Valley In Transcontinental Run

A large group joined alum Paul Johnson on his trek though State College during his run from Los Angeles to New York City.

Penn State Professor Boaz Dvir Releases Documentary ‘Class Of Her Own,’ Inspires Teachers Nationwide

“Class of Her Own” will be available for streaming on Tuesday, April 16.

Follow on Another Platform