With the election for the Board of Trustees underway, eight candidates are head-to-head in the race for three alumni-elected seats.
The Board of Trustees acts as Penn State’s governing body and makes decisions on university policies and procedures. This includes reviewing and approving Penn State’s budget, setting tuition and room and board rates, approving major building projects, hiring the university president and authorizing the granting of degrees.
For candidate Kevin Carey, he said he sees becoming a trustee as a way to “give back” to an institution that has been so prominent in his life when it’s in “significant need.”
“I met my wife on campus. We were married on campus, our kids attend this school –– we’ve got fifth-generation linkage, so Penn State plays a huge role in my life,” Carey said.
Carey is a senior executive vice president and chief operating officer of the American Hotel and Lodging Association. He’s a “major donor” to Penn State and volunteers on the School of Hospitality Management Industry Advisory Board, according to the Board of Trustees website.
Carey also holds a lifetime membership for the Penn State Alumni Association and has received the Outstanding Alumni Award from the Penn State department of history.
Carey said his 30 years of managing “complex financials” and leading large teams at American Express Company gives him the skills to tackle Penn State’s $140 million structural budget deficit.
“I talk a lot about the real serious and unsustainable financial challenges the university faces at present with the budget deficit,” Carey said, “and I feel my experience and skill set is particularly relevant for what matters most and where a sense of urgency is needed to work with the president and the new administration.”
Carey said he’s also comfortable representing industries before governing bodies, which he feels is of “key significance” to the university’s mission to advocate for increased state funding.
“Getting those complex financial issues stabilized, addressed and improved — in my judgment — is really job No. 1 for the board," Carey said.
In addition to appealing for increased state funding, he has identified two areas of “untapped opportunity” for non-tuition revenue sources.
One is optimizing and expanding Penn State’s corporate partnerships, which is an area Carey said has a lot of “room for improvement.”
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The other is fundraising from non-alumni parents, which is a focus of the University Development Parent Philanthropy Committee –– an organization that Carey and his wife co-chair.
Through the Parent Philanthropy Committee, Carey met former vice president for Development and Alumni Relations Rich Bundy, who said he witnessed Carey bring “creative and thoughtful” new leadership that “helped to propel the institution to success.”
“He clearly understood the strategic vision of the campaign and was a strong advocate for that vision both in his volunteerism and in his philanthropic support. And so for me, those are characteristics that I would like to see in the governance leaders of the institution,” Bundy said.
Programs and initiatives related to student success and wellness, as well as advancing inclusivity among students and faculty are at the “top of mind” for Carey.
“One of the initiatives I’ve advanced as part of my platform is to create a young alumni fellows program where you would have more active engagement of young alumni in significant issues that the university’s facing going forward,” Carey said. “I feel it’s an area of untapped potential… They represent the future.”
Donna Quadri-Felitti, the Marvin Ashner endowed director and associate professor in the Penn State School of Hospitality Management, said she has come to know Carey as an “incredible listener.”
“From our discussions in curriculum, he would be interested in asking questions from not only the student perspective –– the parent’s perspective, the employer’s perspective, the faculty’s perspective,” Quadri-Felitti said. “He is quite skilled at listening to and appreciating multiple points of view.”
She said Carey “cares deeply” about Penn State and understands its layers of needs and perspectives.
Quadri-Felitti said Carey embodies “commitment, collaboration [and] collegiality.”
Bundy said a “shockingly small” number of alumni participate in the alumni trustee election.
“Less than 2% of our graduates actually vote in the trustee election, and yet the trustees that are elected are the fiduciary governance leaders of Penn State –– these are always very important elections,” Bundy said. “Vote. It’s important that the Penn State alumni voice be heard.”
The election will close at 9 a.m. on May 4. All online voting must be completed by this time.
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