Alumni breakfast featured insights on health care and grassroots politics

More than 50 alumni, friends and students attended "Penn State A.M.," the free breakfast social held May 15, at Allegheny Valley Hospital in Natrona Heights, Pa.

Co-hosted by Ned Laubacher, the hospital’s chief executive officer, and the Alle-Kiski Alumni Society, the breakfast offered Penn Staters a chance to get together and hear about issues in health care and higher education.

The guest speakers were Dr. Thomas McClure, chief medical officer for the hospital, and Alan Janesch, director of the Grassroots Network of the Penn State Alumni Association.

McClure’s talk, “Health Care in Transformation,” focused on the changes needed in the health care model in the United States. Other countries use one of four basic systems -- Beveridge Model; Bismarck Model; National Health Insurance Model; and Out-of-Pocket Model -- and costs are lower than in the U.S. McClure noted that the American system is a hybrid of the four models, and its costs are the highest in the world with no commensurate improvement in quality.

McClure, who received his medical degree from the University of Pittsburgh, was named to the chief’s post in 2011. He is responsible for providing management and leadership to the hospital’s medical staff to enhance the quality of patient care and the effective utilization of resources.

Janesch, a Penn State alumnus, spoke about “Politics Is Everything: And What That Might Mean to You.” He urged students and alumni to get involved in advocacy and fight for issues that concern them. He pointed out that tuition increases at Penn State are inversely correlated to funding decreases by the state. Since tuition revenues and the state appropriation are the two main funding sources for delivering education to students in the classrooms and labs, cuts in state funding put a lot of pressure on the University to increase tuition revenues.

According to Janesch, in 1970-71, as percentages of Penn State’s education and general budget, tuition accounted for 32 percent of budget revenues and state support provided 62 percent. By 2011-12, those numbers had shifted dramatically, with tuition at 78 percent and state appropriations at 14 percent.

As network director, Janesch works with some 30,000 volunteers to keep Penn State alumni informed about legislative issues important to Penn State in Harrisburg and Washington, D.C., and to help them reach out to their elected officials on Penn State’s behalf.

The annual breakfast socials have been a staple of the Alle-Kiski Society's alumni outreach program. The recent breakfast was Allegheny Valley Hospital’s third social, the most of any organization in the region. The hospital’s first breakfast was in 2004 in Natrona Heights. In 2007, the breakfast was held at Destination Wellness at the Pittsburgh Mills mall in Frazer Township. Destination Wellness is a community health and wellness education resource center sponsored by the hospital.

Since its inception in 2003 at Kennametal Inc. in Latrobe, Pa., breakfasts have been held at various businesses in greater Pittsburgh. Kennametal hosted its second breakfast in 2007. Previous venues were: Medrad in Indianola twice; Pittsburgh Tribune-Review in Pittsburgh; Tribune-Review printing facility in Warrendale; Allegheny Ludlum in Brackenridge; Leed's in Upper Burrell Township; Alcoa Technical Center in Upper Burrell; Site Signatures in Tarentum; Respironics in Murrysville; Phillips Respironics in Upper Burrell; Electro-Optics Center in Sarver, Westinghouse Electric Co. in Cranberry; Century 21 American Heritage Realty in Allegheny Township; and McCutcheon Enterprises Inc. in Apollo.

Planning is under way for future breakfast socials. Alumni and friends who are interested in hosting an event can contact Bill Woodard, alumni and public relations specialist, at 724-334-6049 or

For photos of the event and the list of venues and years of previous socials, visit

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Alumni and Public Relations Specialist

Last Updated May 22, 2013