On Penn State and Lasagna

The news that Penn State’s trustees just froze new building projects brings lasagna to mind.

The reason is that right after my wife and I returned from the hospital with our newborn daughter three weeks ago, we experienced an incredible outpouring of kindness that included two different people bringing over two huge trays of lasagna in one day.  Obviously, we couldn’t eat it all before it went bad, so I decided to freeze one.  But I didn’t have room for the big, unwieldy tray in the freezer.  So I had to cut it up and freeze it in smaller containers.

If you’ve ever tried to cut up uncooked lasagna, you know where I’m going with this:  I froze it first.  That made it much easier to cut.

That’s what Penn State needs to do:  Freeze, then cut.  Yes, it’s good that the trustees put this freeze into effect; Penn State’s own strategic plan says existing buildings “are not fully utilized.”  It is only a start, though.  To get a sense of where to go next, check out our Top Ten List, or the Center for College Affordability and Productivity’s 25 Ways to Reduce the Cost of College, or the American Council of Trustees and Alumni’s Cutting Costs: A Trustee’s Guide to Tough Economic Times.

The freeze is a fine start.  But it’s only that.  Now, time to cut.  Just like the people who pay the taxes and tuition are doing.