Barron opens Shaping the Future Summit with 'The Power of Money' discussion

October 09, 2014

The Nittany Lion Inn Boardroom was full the night of Oct. 6 as students, faculty and staff gathered to hear Penn State President Eric Barron kick off the Schreyer Honors College’s Shaping the Future Summit event, a yearlong dialogue to facilitate conversation and challenge growth.

Dean of the Schreyer Honors College Christian Brady welcomed Barron and opened the event.

“Education is not exempt from the power of money,” Brady said.

Barron spoke in an hour-long address about, “The Power of Money," this year’s topic for the Future Summit. He focused the majority of his speech on Penn State related topics such as public education systems, student debt, educational philanthropy, University measures of success and cathedral thinking.

“Universities should deliberately drive economic development and student success,” Barron said.

Barron discussed how philanthropy plays a role in shaping Penn State’s future and highlighted the efforts of the For the Future campaign, which recently concluded its seven-year fundraising window in April, raising a record $2.158 billion. He called this, “a historic moment in higher education,” and shed light on how much Penn State means to the thousands of alumni who wrote checks to donate to the cause.

“I believe in public education,” Barron said.

Following the address, Barron answered several questions from the audience, including one about the rising cost of textbooks and its economic impact on students.

“The financial model of the textbook industry is going to fail,” Barron said. He then discussed the control of the market and alternative options, such as making textbooks available to students for free in university libraries. “It’s about to flop, it’s just not good for the current students.”

The event had a great turnout for Schreyer Scholars, who were interested in hearing the connection between “The Power of Money” and Penn State.

“I think that money really makes the world go round and it was very refreshing to hear President Barron’s perspective on something that affects each and every student,” junior Laura Weiland said.

Barron’s forward thinking and generation of ideas impressed junior Jason Graybill.

“I enjoyed how the conversation was focused on the economics behind Penn State and specifically how things can be changed for the better going forward,” he said.

Donna Meyer, coordinator of student programs at Schreyer Honors College, is the key organizer of the Future Summit. After the success of last year’s program featuring keynote speaker Peter Diamandis, CEO and co-founder of the Google X-Prize, Meyer is looking forward to expanding the program in the coming year.

"As we launch the second Shaping the Future Summit, I am personally inspired by the reactions of students who have participated. They want to play an active role in changing the world,” Meyer said. “They care about the future and they want to talk about the issues. The summit gives them an opportunity to ask questions, get answers and make informed decisions."

Following the event, Barron expressed his excitement for upcoming Future Summit events and next steps for Penn State.

“I love having conversations within different disciplines of this University. From students and alumni to faculty and staff, everyone comes from different walks of life. It’s an enriching experience,” he said.

As for what is next in terms of strategic planning and Penn State philanthropy, Barron has already hit the ground running, despite his short time in office.

“It’s about the willingness of alumni and friends to connect your vision with their desire to give back,” he said.

The Future Summit will feature various discussions throughout the year and will culminate in a large event in April with a keynote speaker, who will be announced in the coming weeks.

"I look forward to seeing the impact this year's Summit will have on our students as they realize the power of money, words and ideas,” Meyer said.

The next summit event is “The Power of Money: Your Career, Your Impact” with Scholar alumni Thomson Reuters Money editor Lauren Young and Merrill Lynch Managing Director Andy Sieg in Schwab Auditorium on Oct. 23. 

Last Updated October 10, 2014