Murrysville resident eyes spot on PSU board
By Rossilynne Skena
Published: Friday, Jan. 6, 2012
Murrysville resident Joanne DiRinaldo, who's seeking a spot on the Penn State board of trustees, wants to be a voice for the university's alumni.
DiRinaldo, 54, is part of a group looking to restructure the board of trustees' charter and bylaws. She says the board needs fewer trustees but more women, more professional diversification and more alumni-elected representatives among its ranks.
"I am not in agreement with overturning the entire board," said DiRinaldo, who grew up in State College. "However, I do strongly believe that we need change. And part of that change is some modifications within the bylaws; and those bylaws would, in essence, change the structure of the board."
The board is a 32-member body with nine alumni representatives. Selection of the university president, determining major goals of the university and approving the university's budget fall under its purview.
Since 2009, DiRinaldo has served as a member of Penn State New Kensington's advisory board.
"I would like to have the opportunity to serve my alumni constituents in being able to be a voice, predominantly for Western Pennsylvania people because I've been in the Pittsburgh area for 25 years," she said. "And I know the importance in making sure that there is an open dialogue with the satellite campuses as well as having an integration with some of the systems we have in place to make it more transparent.
"And it seems right now, especially with the scandal ... there is a lot of disconnect."
To her, more open discussion breeds transparency. Though trustees are ultimately the decision makers, DiRinaldo said more engagement with others is needed.
"I think it's important that there's more openness in the public when decisions are being formed at that level," she said. "I think it would be great to have more interaction in the community and among the alumni."
DiRinaldo said she understands the board's need to act quickly in the wake of child molestation allegations lodged against former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky -- trustees fired head football coach Joe Paterno and forced university President Graham Spanier to resign.
But she said the haste of the moves was unsettling.
"My point is that I think it was more important for such a major decision to have had a little more time to comfort the public," she said. "Due to the complexity and sensitivity of the issues at hand, it would have been in the best interest to take more time in coming to a definitive conclusion."
During her time on the PSNK advisory board, DiRinaldo said she's looked at the education provided and how to modify it as well as increasing employment opportunities for graduating students.
Now retired, she spent 20 years in the pharmaceutical industry as a business development executive.
DiRinaldo graduated from Penn State's College of Education in 1978. She holds a master's degree in health science from James Madison University, a doctorate in education from the University of Pittsburgh and a certification in negotiation from Harvard Law School.
She has instructed health education courses at Penn State University Park and Penn State McKeesport campuses.
DiRinaldo said she's passionate about being a liaison in the community where she lives, but she wouldn't limit those discussions to Pennsylvania. She wants to hear from alumni across the country and the globe.
In addition, she said consistency and congruency among the university's commonwealth campuses in relationship to the University Park campus are important.
"I think there needs to be more open dialogue and understanding of what's taking place at the satellite campuses with main campus and making sure that the right hand knows what the left hand is doing," DiRinaldo said.
Because the board of trustees consists primarily of older people, DiRinaldo said, she wants to reach out to younger alumni.Additional Information:
Joanne DiRinaldo of Murrysville is seeking a space on the ballot for the April election of Penn State's board of trustees. Penn State alumni can request to cast a vote by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org .
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