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Why We're Running

This letter from Penn State Forward's 2022 endorsed candidates was originally published in the Daily Collegian.

Dear Penn State Alumni,


Penn State is facing a crossroads, and the choice is up to you: we can courageously tackle the issues affecting our communities, or we can stagnate in an inadequate status quo. 


We believe that Penn State is ready to rise to the occasion and pursue bold solutions: championing climate action, mending educational inequities, ensuring student safety, and creating transparent and inclusive governance structures. And we believe alumni will make the same choice.


That’s why we’re running for the Penn State Board of Trustees. The Board determines the strategic direction of the University, and nine members are democratically elected by alumni. This means that you have the opportunity to elect alumni who reflect the future you want to see for Penn State. And we have a vision and a plan for how Penn State can move forward.

We’re running because Penn State can — and must if we are to fulfill our land-grant duty — be a leader in taking climate action. Climate change is hitting home in Pennsylvania, and Penn State must do our part to reduce harm to current and future Pennsylvania communities, support local farmers, and create energy-efficient campuses. We also must prepare our graduates for the 21st century by offering renewable energy education and sustainability-linked educational outcomes.

We’re running because in the ‘We Are’ spirit, we must ensure all students succeed at Penn State. This requires addressing equity and safety issues by taking steps recommended by community experts, such as improving mental health services, educating students on racial and sexual violence prevention, providing resources that help students from low economic backgrounds succeed at Penn State and beyond, and providing gender-informed and trauma-informed medical care. We will champion sustained dialogue with community members and create a transparent process for soliciting and implementing equity-focused recommendations. 

We’re running because making Penn State’s governance more transparent and inclusive will better serve our communities and reflect our values. The Board of Trustees makes consequential decisions that impact students, staff, faculty, alumni, and the broader community. These groups must be integrated into Penn State’s governance structure with inclusive decision-making processes and robust outreach efforts. We will champion increased representation of non-trustee groups on Board of Trustees task forces, search committees, and conversations.

We’re running for the Board of Trustees not just because we have a vision, but because we are uniquely positioned to help Penn State make that vision a reality. Between the three of us, we hold nine degrees, including a master’s and doctoral degree in higher education, a medical degree, a master’s in public health, and a doctorate in atmospheric science. We’ve started non-profit organizations, championed trauma-informed medical practices, and led racial justice efforts.

As students at Penn State, we studied in four different academic colleges, served in student leadership and service roles, and experienced many of the challenges students face, including hate crimes on campus and financial insecurity. And as alumni, we’ve stayed connected with our Penn State communities and been recognized with outstanding alumni awards.

But perhaps most importantly, we’re running for the Board of Trustees because we know we aren’t alone in our vision for Penn State. The Board elections are a unique opportunity for alumni to choose the direction of the University. We believe that a majority of Penn State alumni share the same values and vision that we’re running on: a safe, equitable, inclusive, and sustainable Penn State. If given the chance, we believe alumni will vote to move Penn State forward. But we need your help. 

By requesting your ballot for the April election today, sharing this letter with your classmates, and voting for our slate in April, we can move Penn State forward towards a brighter future. Because the Penn State community deserves nothing less. 

Forward together,

Dr. Christa Hasenkopf, Eberly and Schreyer ‘03

Dr. Ed Smith, Liberal Arts ‘06 and Education ‘10

Dr. Farnaz Farhi, Eberly, Liberal Arts, and Schreyer ‘10


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