10 Questions with David Paterno

By April 1, 201610 Question Game, news

The 10 Question Game

Let’s get to know our Alumni Council Representatives

David Paterno for PSAA Alumni Council

David Paterno

Electrical Engineering ’88, ’91g

State College, Pennsylvania

Alumni Council Member 2015-2018


Question #1 – Why Alumni Council?

In recent years alumni and Alumni Council members have been sharing with me disappointment, and to some extent frustration, that the association was not representing their interests and changing in small incremental ways that were disenfranchising.  Members cited feeling that the association was not expressing their voice to the membership and to the university. 

First, I recruited fellow alumni to run for Council that I felt have tremendous experience and passion for Penn State and our Alumni Association. Frankly in that process I experienced what I felt was an inappropriate effort to block access to the ballot for Life Members. Something was clearly not going on as we thought inside our association – so I made the effort to meet with staff and resolve it – to no avail.  At that moment I made my own commitment to run for the Alumni Council and help make it the best alumni association once again.

The sense of ‘what do members of the Alumni Association want?’ has been missing for some time now. I got involved to listen to the voice of the members and to be a voice for the members inside the association.

Question #2 –  Which Hall of Fame should your mom be inducted into?

A Football Coaching Hall of Fame wouldn’t be bad, an Academic Hall of Fame would be a good fit too. But I think the Volunteerism Hall of Fame. She worked as hard for Penn State as my father did, for fifty years, and she’s still doing it. Penn State has an unpaid full-time employee in her.

Question #3 – The 2015 PSAA Alumni Survey left off three statement questions; “Penn State is committed to openness and transparency”, “Penn State should publicly recognize Joe Paterno for his service to Penn State”, and “Penn State has made progress in implementing nearly all the recommendations in the Freeh Report“.   Why do you think they left the questions off?

It is not fair for me to guess why these questions were left off.  I can tell you why I’d not ask the same questions again if it had been up to me. If I’d asked and got strong consistent answers advising me to do something several years in a row, and I didn’t do anything to address it and I were not ready to do anything to address it – then I’d be wasting the respondents time and my own time to ask it again.  Also, my ego would egg me away from asking questions that I am almost certain will have unflattering responses.

I believe that the strength and consistency of the answers in prior years illustrates the dissatisfaction of the membership – and tells us a clear area we can and should be improving on in terms of responding to the voice of our membership.

Question #4 –  Peachy Paterno or Russ Roseberry?

My favorite is Meyers Dairy Mint Chocolate Chip. I haven’t been to the Creamery since they renamed it. 


Question # 5 – After this election Alumni Council will have 106 members. The Executive Board is realizing that they might have made a mistake making it so big. CEO Paul Clifford has suggested that alumni elected seats be eliminated and just make everyone appointed, the way other alumni associations do.  How do you feel about alumni losing the last bit of control they have in their alumni association?

I do agree that the Council is too big and on track to get bigger is not the right path. I don’t feel alumni are losing the last bit of control because they already lost it with the Bylaws changes last year. The elected positions at least provide some seats at the table inside the closed meetings. Hopefully the nominating and voting in of some members continues and is a way to expose members to the names, faces, and platforms of some of the council members that govern the association.  As Alumni Council we do need to work with the Association on a more manageable board size, and proper representation of the alumni association members.

The only influence that all alumni members have right now – is that they can contact the PSAA offices, and tell the staff what they want from their association, and contact them again, and ask for follow up on what really matters.  Our association has one of the highest staff to member ratios – so let them know what you want and ask them when and how they will provide it. Ask for more surveying of the membership, ask for action plans to implement what the surveys indicate is most desired by the members. Democracy only works if the represented are active and engaged.

Question #6 – On a scale of 1 to 10, how cute was Scott as a baby? 

I’d give him an 8. He was a cute baby.

psaaforall POL Scott Paterno

Question #7 –  Robert’s Rules of Order is used by every Big 10 Alumni Association except Penn State.  Why did the amendment to restore them fail?

In deliberation it was pointed out that the proposal did not contain standard safety language in place that would prevent someone from undoing, at a later date, something that was passed at a meeting. The ironic thing is, that if we’d had Robert’s Rules of Order, this small but necessary improvement could have been added from the floor, and a vote on the best language way to implement it completed.

At the last meeting nearly half of the people there felt that the bylaws needed to be amended in small ways; to restore the ability to run for council by petition, and /or to include Roberts Rules of Order. I think this needs to be done outside of the meetings, perhaps in a committee.

SAT Question: A 1978 Honda Civic was built for a driver and four passengers, but you have eight friends who need a ride.  How can you modify this vehicle for the trip and make sure everyone has a seatbelt?

You can tie a couch to the roof. You can get four guys on the couch and five in the car. Then you can run a rope up through the windows across the couch so they have something to hold on to. It’s very comfortable.

Question #9 – Which event do you enter in the Paterno Family Beaver Stadium Run?

The 5K. It’s a really easy course, one of the easiest in Pennsylvania, almost all flat and downhill. The finish line is the 50 yard line at Beaver Stadium. It’s a great time.


Question #10: Never Have I Ever

Directions: Hold up all the fingers on one hand. When you hear a statement that is not true you put one finger down.

1. Been declared dead
2. Gone more than four and a half hours without eating
3. Chased down  robbers in Key West
4. Paid more than $100 for a used car
5. Perhaps gone a little overboard building a tree house for my kids

How many fingers are you holding up?


(and apprehended.)