Trustees at Penn State approve reforms
STATE COLLEGE — Penn State trustees approved reforms to university governance on Friday and learned that two incumbents on the university's governing board were voted out by alumni in a contentious election.
Incumbent Paul Suhey finished fourth, one spot out of returning to the board. Board vice chair Stephanie Deviney also was rejected by alumni to return to a board that has been scrutinized since the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal.
Winning election were Barbara Doran, William Oldsey and Ted Brown, all endorsed by an alumni group critical of university leadership.
The newly elected trustees watched from the audience while the current board approved governance changes including reducing the size of the board by two to 30 by taking away the voting power of Pennsylvania's governor and the university president.
The proposals had been studied for months. Other recommendations approved include changing the requirement for quorum from a majority of members to 13 and implementing a five-year waiting period before commonwealth row officers can become trustees.
Another change would cut the time required for notice before the board meets from 10 days to three.
Penn State officials called the changes significant. The measures were approved after months of deliberations, initiated after former FBI Director Louis Freeh offered 119 recommendations last July to improve the university as part of his investigation into the scandal for Penn State.
“In one fell swoop, it's probably the biggest change to the bylaws that we've made in 100 years,” said trustee Joel Myers. “Many institutions don't make this change at all, certainly over decades.”
Alumni, the university faculty senate and the auditor general's office also had offered recommendations.
In a statement, Auditor General Eugene DePasquale said he was encouraged by the changes toward greater transparency. But, he said, there was more work to do to regain “the confidence of the public and the university community,” including expanding the Right-to-Know law to the university.
Leaders have vowed the study of governance changes would not end.
“I can assure that (trustees) will continue to address these items,” trustees chair Keith Masser said.
Anthony Lubrano was the only trustee to vote against the measures. He said his main concerns were the size of the board and the size and influence of the six-member constituency of business trustees.
“We just took baby steps today,” Lubrano said. “I think we have a lot of work to do.”