Penn State trustees address reforms at hearing
By Patrick Cloonan
Published: Thursday, Oct. 10, 2013, 2:26 a.m.
A state lawmaker from Centre County continued to press his package of proposed reforms to the way Penn State University is governed at a hearing on Wednesday at PSU's Greater Allegheny campus.
State Rep. Scott Conklin, D-Rush Township, is prime sponsor of House Bills 299, 310, 311 and 312, which were referred to the House Education and State Government committees on Jan. 23.
Conklin said his bills would:
• Make the state's Right-to-Know Law applicable to Penn State as well as the other state-related universities, Pitt, Temple and Lincoln.
• Cut the size of the board of trustees from 32 to 22 members.
• Establish three-year terms and a three-term limit for trustees.
• Require annual election of board officers.
• Require trustees to comply with the state's Ethics Act.
• Bar the university president and the governor from serving as voting members of the board.
• Make the governor and state secretaries of Education, Agriculture and Conservation & Natural Resources ex-officio board members.
• Bar the governor and state row officers from serving on the board for four years after their terms end.
Co-sponsors of the package include Reps. R. Ted Harhai, D-Monessen, and Bill Kortz, D-Dravosburg.
“The only way you are going to get true reform is through the legislative process,” said former state Sen. Robert Jubelirer, R-Blair County, at a McKeesport hearing Conklin convened because none had occurred for his bills in Harrisburg.
Jubelirer was an unsuccessful candidate for the board of trustees in elections this past spring.
“It is important to the university and to the future of the university and confidence of all of you who love the university that we continue to persevere,” Jubelirer said. “Much needs to be done to restore Penn State as the greatest university in the land.”
“We need change, we need reform,” Penn State trustee Anthony Lubrano told an audience that never exceeded two dozen in the Ostermayer Room at Greater Allegheny's Student Community Center. “Without the legislative effort we will continue to kick the can down the road at Penn State.”
Jubelirer has roots in the Mon-Yough area — his father lived in McKeesport, his father's siblings were born here, and all of them graduated from old McKeesport High School.
Penn State trustee chairman Keith Masser said Conklin's bills are unnecessary and declined the invitation to testify in McKeesport.
“This subject matter has been covered in several official legislative committee hearings in Harrisburg, and another that you hosted in State College just two months ago,” Masser wrote. “Furthermore, questions related to the structure and operations of the Penn State board of trustees continue to be raised and debated among members of the board, and are the subject of ongoing review by the board's Committee on Governance and Long-Range Planning, which continues to seek input from internal and external experts.”
The State College hearing, like the one in McKeesport, was not sanctioned by legislative leaders. Conklin said the “official legislative committee hearings” dealt with another measure, House Bill 61, which would extend the state Right to Know Law to cover Penn State, Pitt, Temple and Lincoln.
HB 61's prime sponsor is Rep. Kerry Benninghoff, R-Centre County. Kortz is a co-sponsor of that bill, as are Reps. George Dunbar, R-Penn Township, and Rick Saccone, R-Elizabeth Township.
The House State Government Committee approved HB 61 on April 22, but then tabled it on June 17.
On April 10, Conklin presented resolutions to compel the Education and State Government committees to discharge his bills. He believed the April 22 committee vote on HB 61 was prompted by rumors that he would press for a vote that day on the discharge resolutions.
Conklin said his proposals were prompted by recommendations issued by then-state Auditor General Jack Wagner in the wake of the conviction and sentencing of former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky on child sexual abuse charges.
Lubrano knew the late Penn State football coach Joe Paterno and told the Greater Allegheny gathering of a meeting he had with Paterno less than two weeks before his death, and after the Penn State trustees stripped Paterno of his coaching position.
“This isn't about me,” Lubrano quoted Paterno as saying. “It is about our school and leaving it a better place than we found it.”
Patrick Cloonan is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1967, or email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- McKeesport man wanted in shooting nabbed in Elizabeth Township
- Oakmont father-son team’s efforts help add Mon Valley names to police memorial
- Markosek supports McCord for governor
- McKeesport crews prep for new KaBOOM! playground
- County still waiting for Versailles bar owner payments
- Dravosburg residents try to save PNC Bank from closing
- McKeesport student to celebrate Jackie Robinson’s legacy
- Serra Catholic High School friary to house foreign students
- Raid nets drugs, body armor at Wilmerding house
- Glassport council to crack down on absentee landlords
- West Mifflin public works lauded for efforts