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Penn State Board Of Trustee Candidate Brandon Short Working To Make Penn State Affordable

It’s been nearly 24 years since Brandon Short was drafted to the NFL and left Penn State.

A former Carolina Panther and New York Giant, Short spent six years playing professional football. After his time in athletics, he worked around the world in investing and real estate.

Armed with a degree from Penn State, an M.B.A. from Columbia, and plenty of experience in the business world, Short ran for a position on Penn State’s Board of Trustees in 2018, winning the vote.

Now a two-time electee to Penn State’s Board of Trustees, Short is seeking a third term alongside Carl Nassib and Steve Wagman.

Working with the board wasn’t the first time Short held a leadership position. As a Penn State football player, Short was named a team captain — the same position he held in high school. In the NFL, Short was elected by his Carolina Panthers teammates to represent them with the National Football League Players’ Association (NFLPA). His time with the NFLPA, Short said, shaped how he approaches his role with the board.

“My views are important, but my views are shaped from listening to the alumni and understanding what’s important to them,” Short told Onward State. “And I may not always agree, but listening is much more important.”

One of Short’s top priorities as a trustee is making Penn State more affordable. The university is one of the most expensive in the Big Ten, and Pennsylvania provides one of the lowest amounts of financial assistance to public universities in the country.

“The cost to attend college is out of control, and it’s a national problem,” Short said. “It’s a larger issue, but it’s a Penn State issue. And it’s my job to try to figure out creative ways to keep that cost under control so that people can come to Penn State and get a quality education without mortgaging the rest of their lives.”

At the heart of the issue, Short highlighted supporting Penn State’s Commonwealth Campuses, which are set to become the victim of budget cuts as the university attempts to balance a deficit of millions of dollars.

In the latest proposals, President Neeli Bendapudi proposed cutting funding to Commonwealth Campuses by $54 million as the university deals with lower enrollment rates across the state.

“One of the biggest challenges that we have is filling the seats in our Commonwealth Campuses,” Short said. “We’re not going to cut our way to affordability… Leveraging our Commonwealth Campuses to be a positive impact on their local communities is a huge opportunity for the university.”

Short avoided saying whether or not he supported boosting funding to Penn State’s Commonwealth Campuses, but did say he supported giving them the resources they needed. He also said that as an active member of the Board of Trustees, he couldn’t comment on what those resources were.

Most recently, Short gained attention for a speech he gave at a February board meeting, during which he decried what he saw as the use of the name of former Penn State football head coach Joe Paterno for a political gain.

After trustee Anthony Lubrano put forth a resolution to name the field at Beaver Stadium after Paterno, the resolution was later rescinded following remarks from Paterno’s son Jay Paterno.

Jay Paterno was one of the individuals Short said was using the name of Joe Paterno for personal gain alongside those who put forth the resolution.

“I was disheartened with people using Joe Paterno’s name for a political game,” Short said. “I love Joe, and Joe Paterno saved my life, and I do think the university should do everything you can to honor both Joe and [his wife] Sue for what they’ve done.

“And the way that the name was used in the way, that they put out a resolution, and then a person who knew that the resolution was coming gave a long speech about why they should not do not put the resolution forward,” Short said. “It was staged and it felt like it didn’t do the justice that the man deserved.”

Short said that by not honoring Paterno, Penn State was distancing itself from alumni who want to see the Paterno family recognized for their dedication to the university. Penn State alumni weren’t supporting the school because of its refusal to acknowledge Joe Paterno’s legacy, Short said, and that was hurting the future of the school.

A former Penn State football player under Joe Paterno, Short said he appreciated the direction Penn State was taking with its policies on name, image, and likeness (NIL). While Short echoed sentiments similar to that of head football coach James Franklin that Penn State had previously been behind other schools in NIL, it was now catching up.

Short also said he supported players earning some money for their work on the team. Financial assistance was something he wished he had on the team, and he was happy to see today’s student-athletes earning some pay.

“When I came to Penn State, they sold [No.] 43 jerseys, and there were there were no less than 10,000 people that had purchased that jersey,” Short said. “And I would have to go after a game and not be able not afford to take my girlfriend on a date. She would have to take me because I had no money.”

At the heart of Short’s campaign, alongside Nassib and Wagman, isn’t NIL nor Joe Paterno. About improving Penn State as a whole, starting with affordability and ending with improving its leadership.

“I’d like middle-class people to be able to afford to go to Penn State,” Short said. “I like to see our rankings improved to reflect the true value of a Penn State education. I like to see the leadership reestablish trust with the Penn State community.”

Voting for the Board of Trustees election begins at 9 a.m. on Wednesday, April 10, and ends at 9 a.m. on Thursday, May 2.

Editor’s note: Short’s interview is the first 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 to read more about the five candidates vying for spots on the board this election cycle.

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About the Author

Joe Lister

Joe is a junior journalism major at Penn State and an associate editor at Onward State. He covers Penn State football and enjoys yelling on Twitter about Philadelphia/Penn State sports. He also listens to Mac Miller more than you. If you want to find him, Joe's usually watching soccer with his shirt off or at the gym with his shirt on. Please send all positive affirmations and/or hate mail toward him on Twitter (iamjoelister) or via email ([email protected]).

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