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The Sentinel

An Eye on the Penn State Administration

Executive Hobbies v. Crushing Debt

Penn State President Graham Spanier hosted his usual once-per-month radio show, “To The Best of My Knowledge,” on WPSU-FM last on Tuesday. Each month, the topic of the show changes, along with the panelists he invites to discuss the issue.

This month, though, President Spanier discussed a topic that I believe was especially relevant to Penn State undergraduates: “executive hobbies”. From Dr. Spanier’s official website, president.psu.edu:

Tuesday, February 26, 2008 Executive Hobbies
Experts say that business leaders who pursue passionate hobbies-hobbies that put them into a completely different realm of activity and accomplishment-recharge their thinking batteries and improve their business performance. We talk with two top executives about what they do to recharge!
Listen to the show
John Surma, chairman and CEO of U.S. Steel Corporation
Peter Weiler, Penn State vice president in development and alumni relations

While I don’t think there’s any question that hobbies help enrich our lives, no matter what our professional lives involve, this topic stuck me for one reason:

For someone like President Spanier, who earns over $500,000 annually before bonuses, having a number of engaging hobbies outside of his responsibilities as Penn State president probably isn’t too difficult. What, though, are Penn State students (or their parents) to do, though?

Penn State has become the most expensive public institution in the United States under President Spanier’s leadership. Our debt load has skyrocketed to over $1 billion, and tuition has increased over 25 percent in just the past five years, an astonishing and embarassing statistic.

So what are the students and their parents to do in between holding down a full time student schedule and working part-time on the side to pay their way through school? The same question stands for those who take our student loans and then struggle to pay them off before they hit their 30th birthday.

What about student hobbies? Do we have time for them? When is Dr. Spanier going to talk about our interests?

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