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Penn State trustees give president a raise, look for new chairman

| Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2012, 1:58 p.m.

Penn State University trustees approved an $85,000 pay raise for President Rodney Erickson.

The boost announced Wednesday will push Erickson's annual salary to $600,000, retroactive to Nov. 1, according to Penn State. Trustees elevated Erickson from provost to president in November 2011, when they removed longtime President Graham Spanier over his leadership during the Jerry Sandusky sexual-abuse scandal.

Erickson's performance-based raise follows terms of his contract and puts him at roughly the 50th percentile of base salaries for top executives at comparable institutions, Penn State reported. Spanier made $700,000 in his 16th year as president.

In another development, university board Chairwoman Karen Peetz said she would not seek reappointment to the leadership post she has held for a year. Board chairs at Penn State typically serve three consecutive one-year terms.

Peetz said her promotion to president at Bank of New York Mellon, effective Jan. 1, will keep her from continuing as Penn State board chairwoman next year. She has been vice chairman and CEO of financial markets and treasury services at BNY.

“At all times, and particularly now, our university needs a chairman with the ability to commit virtually unlimited time and energy to guiding this great institution to its promising future,” Peetz said in a prepared statement. “The new, significantly broader responsibilities I am assuming at BNY Mellon preclude me from dedicating myself fully to Penn State right now.”

Peetz said she will continue as a rank-and-file board member at Penn State. In a conference call with reporters, she said she would support Vice Chairman Keith Masser in his bid to succeed her.

Masser is the CEO of Sterman Masser Inc., a Schuylkill County potato-farming group. The board elected him vice chairman a year ago.

“I want to do all I can to help bring the university together,” Masser said. “We have challenges with funding. We want to make sure we can address making education affordable for our students.”

Masser also emphasized the ongoing search for Penn State's next president, expected to conclude by mid-2013. Erickson has pledged to retire in 2014.

Any Penn State trustees who want to serve as board vice chairman or chairman in 2013 must declare their intentions by Dec. 28. The 32-member board will vote on its 2013 leadership on Jan. 18.

Peetz and Masser led efforts to restructure the board and strengthen transparency since the ouster of Spanier, who faces criminal charges in connection with the Sandusky case. Board members will discuss several governance recommendations at their January meeting, including suggestions from Auditor General Jack Wagner and the university Faculty Senate, Peetz said.

Sandusky, a former defensive coordinator at Penn State, is serving at least 30 years in prison for abusing 10 boys over 15 years.

Prosecutors say Spanier joined two former administrators, Tim Curley and Gary Schultz, in concealing longtime concerns about Sandusky. The men maintain they are innocent. A judge delayed their preliminary hearing as he sorts out several pending motions.

Adam Smeltz is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-380-5676 or asmeltz@tribweb.com.

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