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Penn State Board of Trustees sends clear message on its openness

| Saturday, Nov. 2, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

Email obtained under the Freedom of Imagination Act:

••••••••

Completely confidentialFor your eyes only

Delete after reading, delete from “deleted” folder, then forget you ever read this

To: Penn State Board of Trustees

From: Trustee Chairman Keith Masser

Re: Presidential search

As you undoubtedly are aware, this board has strived for full transparency since the Jerry Sandusky child molestation scandal made the university appear to rival only the Kremlin in its fondness for secrecy.

Toward that end, I'd like to address the selection process for the next university president. Given the sensitive nature of the subject matter, I would greatly appreciate you not sharing any information disclosed in this transparent communique.

I mean, don't even share this with your spouses. Seriously. Extensive background checks have been performed on all of them, but that still in no way guarantees they can be trusted.

As you know, the 12-member search committee selected a presidential candidate it was prepared to reveal to the 20 other board members on Thursday evening at an undisclosed location.

A public vote on the candidate was scheduled for Friday at a locale that might have been the same as where the Thursday evening meeting was to occur — or perhaps not. I'm not at liberty to say.

The salient point is that the selection vote had to be postponed because several of you complained that one night was insufficient time to properly vet the finalist before voting on him or her.

The postponement was problematic for Penn State.

It implied that the university continues to be imbued in a culture of secrecy. The same culture that enabled a predatory monster like Sandusky to wander about the campus unfettered for years, even once questions surfaced about his indecent activities.

It made it appear as though the university reflexively remains an institution of nondisclosure, so much so that a board committee is withholding critical information from the full board until the last possible moment.

As I hope you understand from what was discussed at the board's private meeting on Friday, nothing could be further from the truth. There is no attempt to keep many of you in the dark. We just can't have any of you compromising the confidentiality of the search process until it's time for you to rubber stamp the search committee's selection.

Rest assured, the entire board will learn the finalist's identity at an appropriate time and location that members will be informed of via an encrypted email the NSA would have difficulty decoding.

Let me reiterate: We're done with opaque obfuscation at Penn State. I can't understand why that's so difficult for outsiders to grasp.

We've certainly made no secret of it.

Eric Heyl is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7857 or eheyl@tribweb.com.

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