Posts filed under ‘Alumni Association’
Keegan-Michael Key ’96 will team up with longtime collaborator Jordan Peele and do commentary for Super Bowl 50. The duo will play a pair of eccentric commenters named Lee and Morris and will spend the entire game calling the action on a website hosted by Squarespace, which is sponsoring the broadcast.
There’s just one catch: the duo won’t be able to say anything that would violate a trademark owned by the NFL, so things like the team names and the phrase “Super Bowl” are off the table. According to one video, they can’t even say “touchdown” without splitting up who says “touch” and “down.”
You can watch all of the promotional ads for the broadcast right here, and make sure you tune in when the stream goes live on Sunday night.
Bill DiFilippo, online editor
Tonight’s College Football Playoff Championship isn’t just one big football game. There are additional elements—things like concerts and fan events—that turn it into one of the year’s biggest sporting events
That’s where Laila Brock ’00, ’02 comes in. Brock is the Director of Operations and Logistics for the College Football Playoff, and it’s her job to turn the sport’s biggest game into something that everyone enjoys.
A former All-Big Ten selection as a member of Penn State’s track team, Brock’s primary job is overseeing the student-athlete experience. This year, she’s making sure that athletes, bands, and cheerleaders from Clemson and Alabama have a great time while they’re in Phoenix by managing things like transportation, hotels, hospitality, and whatever would pop up on game day.
Brock also manages all of the Playoff’s public events, namely its two marquee functions: AT&T Playoff Playlist Live! and the Playoff Fan Central. The latter is an interactive festival with entertainment ranging from pep rallies to appearances by celebrities, while the former is a multi-day concert. Last year, Brock brought in Lenny Kravitz and Sting, while this year’s concert will include John Mellancamp, Ciara, The Band Perry, and Walk The Moon.
Lastly, Brock handles some of the logistical elements of the game. She deals with decorum around the city and at the game, and makes sure that the transportation can accommodate all of the people who come to the city.
“Even if a fan is not going to the game, they have an excuse to come to the national championship just to experience the whole atmosphere,” Brock said.
Brock’s no stranger to working in and around college football’s bowl games: Prior to joining the Playoff, she worked for seven years for the Orange Bowl. After the 2013 national championship game, the Chief Operating Officer of the College Football Playoff offered her a position with the organization.
Now, she is an important part of one of the most complex operations in college sports. Her job requires an astounding amount of advanced planning; Brock said that planning for this year’s game kicked into gear last February, while the planning for the 2017, 2018, 2019, and 2020 games is already underway.
“Most folks think that it’s August through January,” Brock said. “But the planning process is so intricate and so detailed that if we were to start in August, there’s no way that we would be able to pull this thing off.”
It’s an arduous process, and Brock puts in a ton of work to make sure everything runs smoothly. Over the past few weeks, she has been in eight different states doing prep work for Monday’s game, and her first trip to the site of next year’s contest is set for the end of January.
Despite all the hard work, Brock’s passion for her job is apparent. She especially loves working with the student-athletes, saying that the most fun part of her job comes when she sees the reactions when players see things like hospitality suites or special buses with team logos and players’ faces on them.
With all the work Brock puts into planning for the game, you’d think she would have a good sense of whether Clemson or Alabama will win tonight. Well, not quite…
“If I were able to make that prediction, I would not need this job.”
Bill DiFilippo, online editor
It’s a busy time of year for the mailing industry, and we are contributing to all of the special packages being delivered this week with our Jan./Feb. issue.
On the cover is a rich illustration of one of Penn State’s most treasured traditions, the Dance Marathon. We asked readers to send us their THON memories and we weren’t disappointed. Starting on page 32, “My THON” is a collection of those funny, magical, meaningful, and just plain personal stories.
Also in this issue, senior editor Ryan Jones profiles Richard Trumka ’71. In his rise from coal miner to president of the AFL-CIO, Trumka is focused on the future of American labor.
Mere months after a freak injury cost him the use of his legs, former Nittany Lion soccer standout Brett Gravatt has moved from the field to the track, where he is excelling in unprecedented ways. Read about his incredible story, “In No Time Flat,” on page 26.
Plus, best-selling author David Morrell ’67, ’70 pens a remembrance of longtime professor Paul West; we celebrate a national championship with the women’s soccer team; and we’re excited to introduce our new Penn State Alumni Association CEO, Paul Clifford.
Send us your thoughts about the new issue by commenting below or emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org. And, from all of us at The Penn Stater, best wishes for a happy and healthy New Year.
Amy Downey, senior editor
They say, ‘Beware of Greeks bearing gifts,’ but the Penn State Alumni Association made an exception last week when Michigan State sent over a few gallons of their Nittany White Out in honor of National Ice Cream Month. (Yes, we were shocked, too, when we learned that the Spartans have a flavor named after Penn State.) In fact, the East Lansing creamery has a flavor for all of the Big Ten rivals: Hoosier Strawberry; Badger Berry Cheesecake; and Buckeye Blitz, which is peanut butter ice cream with buckeye candies. There’s even a Husker’s Sweet Corn flavor replete with sweet corn pieces. As for the Nittany White Out—a subtle vanilla ice cream with salted caramel swirls and rounded chunks of pretzel pieces covered in white chocolate—we’ll go on the record and say we’re fans of it. Though we’ll still always be partial to our Berkey.
Amy Downey, senior editor
Back in 2012, when a record 86 alumni were running for a seat on the Penn State Board of Trustees in the wake of the Sandusky scandal, we introduced a project designed to help voters sort through all those candidates. We patterned it after the voters’ guides that the League of Women Voters pioneered, and we called it “Three Questions for the Candidates.”
We’ve continued the project every year since then, even as the number of candidates has declined: 39 alumni running for a seat in 2013 and 31 last year. This year saw an even more dramatic drop, and in fact the race is essentially uncontested: Only three candidates are running for the three available alumni-elected seats.
We talked about it in-house, and decided that even with three unopposed candidates, the project is still worth doing. Alumni still need to know where their trustees, or potential trustees, stand on the issues. So we invited Anthony Lubrano, Ryan McCombie, and Robert Tribeck to answer this year’s three questions.
Tribeck sent us his answers, and you’ll see them on our site. McCombie responded that he wouldn’t be in a position to participate: “I am on travel until Easter Sunday with only my IPad to compose on and little thoughtful time,” he replied. “I don’t believe I will be able to frame these questions worthy of your publication and editor’s eye satisfactorily in time. I’m afraid you are going to do this without me this year. Sorry.” Lubrano didn’t respond at all.
Still, we’ve assembled the site, including not only Tribeck’s responses but also links to all three candidates’ bios and official position statements on the trustees’ website. Information on election dates and eligibility is on the site as well. We hope that you’ll check it out—and that you’ll vote.
Tina Hay, editor
In a busy and often contentious five-hour meeting Friday afternoon at the Penn Stater Hotel, the Board of Trustees ended months of heated debate by adopting a proposal to expand the board’s membership to 36 voting members. The board also voted to postpone action on a proposal to join a lawsuit against the NCAA—news that was tempered Saturday by the announcement that President Eric Barron will personally conduct a review of the Freeh Report.
The governance changes passed on a 16-9 vote, with the nine alumni-elected trustees voting against expanding the board. Under the approved proposal, the board will now include 38 trustees, 36 of whom will have voting rights. The new additions will include a student trustee, an academic trustee nominated by the Faculty Senate, and the immediate past president of the Alumni Association. In addition, there will be three at-large trustees elected by the board. All new trustees will begin their terms in July 2015.
Opponents of the board argued that a larger board would be too complex to function efficiently. Alumni trustee Al Lord ’67 was representative of his fellow elected board members when he said, “I find it hard to believe that a 30 to 40 member board will be effective. That certainly has not been the case.” The addition of the Alumni Association seat was particularly contentious for some, with Alice Pope ’79, ’83g, ’86g among those arguing that the seat created a potential conflict of interest. Alumni trustee Anthony Lubrano ’82 also argued the board should heed the request of state senators Jake Corman ’93 and John Yudichak ’93, ’04g to hold off on reforming the board until the recently elected gubernatorial administration was in office.
The majority cited the board makeup of peer institutions, some of which have dozens more members than Penn State’s, as proof that there was nothing inherently problematic in increasing the membership. Business and industry trustee Rick Dandrea ’77 said, “I think our board functions well on a wide range of issues. We have disagreements on a very few important issues. On this issue, our board function is not what it should be because we have a majority and minority agenda. I don’t think it has anything to do with size.”
After the vote, board chair Keith Masser ’73 called the expanded board “a more comprehensive reflection of the Penn State community.”
Given the established voting lines on the board, it was the expected outcome from a long and increasingly tense afternoon session. Citing threats made toward some board members, the university increased security for the meeting; visitors passed through a metal detector, and as many as two dozen officers from the State College and Penn State police departments were visible in the conference room, in the hallway outside, and outside the hotel entrances. Masser opened the meeting with a reference to outbursts at the board’s Oct. 28 special meeting, when three audience members were removed from the room, and reminded the standing-room crowd that “members of the public are here as observers, not as participants.”
Some of those observers got their chance to participate at the public comment segment, and about half of the 10 listed speakers used their time to upbraid the appointed trustees involved in the dismissal of Joe Paterno and the acceptance of the Freeh Report. That session followed a proposal from Lubrano that Penn State join Sen. Corman’s lawsuit against the NCAA. That proposal, inspired by the release of emails last week highlighting apparent conflicts in the NCAA’s handling of sanctions in the wake of the Freeh Report, was voted down, 14-10, but not before alumni trustee Bob Jubelirer ’59, ’62g argued that “with all that’s going on, to kick it down the road to January, I think we’re making a terrible, terrible mistake.” Gubernatorial appointee Kathleen Casey ’88 countered that the board would be better served by having more time to consider the resolution and revisit it at the next scheduled meeting in January.
On Saturday, President Barron added an unexpected twist with the announcement that he would “conduct a thorough review of the Freeh Report and supporting materials produced during the course of the investigation.” Barron’s statement offered no timetable for the review, but noted that he “assured the board I would move with all deliberate speed.”
Barron’s scheduled address Friday focused on student engagement, a topic he addressed last week in an open forum with students at the Hintz Family Alumni Center. Barron highlighted the many reasons that more engaged students—those who study abroad, intern, take leadership roles, and have the opportunity for one-on-one engagement with faculty—have better GPAs and make stronger candidates for internships and jobs. His proposals for improving the environment for student engagement ranged from the creation of an engaged student medal to greater funding for international experiences. He noted, “Just going in and out of class is no way to go through this university.”
Executive VP and Provost Nicholas Jones address trends in faculty makeup, particularly the decades-long rise in non-tenure-track faculty. While acknowledging concerns about about the decline in tenure-track professors, Jones highlighted a number of non-track instructors whose work has been honored for teaching and research awards.
University scholarship was also highlighted Friday, with presentations from Schreyer Honors College Dean Chris Brady, Eberly College of Science Dean Daniel Larson (highlighting the Millennium Scholars Program) and Susan Welch, dean of the College of the Liberal Arts. Welch focused on the Paterno Fellows program, and her presentation included clips from a 2009 video of Joe and Sue Paterno ’62 explaining their inspiration for the program they endowed.
You can find information on additional items from Friday’s agenda here.
Ryan Jones, senior editor
Yesterday’s board-reform recommendation by the Board of Trustees’s governance committee is playing to mixed reviews so far.
The most prominent critic appears to be state senator John Yudichak ’93, ’04g, who quickly issued a statement suggesting that the committee violated state law with its recommendation. His concern apparently is with the removal of voting privileges for the three members of the governor’s cabinet who serve as trustees: “The public members of the board of trustees and the voting privileges they have are decided by statute, not by a committee of non-lawmakers,” according to his statement.
Yudichak is the main sponsor of Senate Bill 1240, which would cut the size of the board from 30 voting members to 23. The proposal approved in the governance committee yesterday, by contrast, would increase the number of voting members to 33. Mark Dent of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette talked with Yudichak yesterday and has a bit more on the senator’s objections here.
The governance committee also heard criticism during the public-comment portion of its meeting yesterday from alumnus Jeff Goldsmith ’82, who ran unsuccessfully for the board in 2013 and who has since formed a group called Penn State Board Watch. Goldsmith expressed “extreme disappointment in how the committee has handled public input into this process,” pointing out that while comment has been allowed at some sessions, there’ve been severeal committee breakout sessions that took place in private.
A few other notes from yesterday’s meeting:
Ted Brown’s Proposal E. While much of the debate has been about whether to keep the nine alumni-elected slots on the board or reduce that number to six, trustee Ted Brown ’68 put forward a proposal to increase the number to 12. He points out that alumni trustees (three, to be exact) were first added to the board in 1875, at a time when Penn State had about 1,400 living alumni. Thirty years later, in 1905, Penn State had about 9,400 alumni, and the number of alumni trustees increased to nine. Today, 109 years later, Penn State has more than 600,000 alumni, but still only nine alumni trustees. “In less than 20 years there will be about 1 million [living alumni],” according to the rationale statement in Brown’s proposal. “At that rate we should have 540 alumni-elected Trustees. This proposal advocates only an increase of three.”
Brown’s proposal never made it to a vote. After the meeting, he told the committee, “I have to say that I am not happy with what you’ve passed, but my view is that probably nobody is. … I am happy we reached a compromise that protects all constituencies.” He added that if the full board tries again to reduce the number of alumni-elected seats, he’ll again pursue his 12-seat proposal.
Board size. The proposal passed yesterday would increase the size of the Board of Trustees (including both voting and non-voting members) from 32 to 38. Penn State already has the largest board in the Big Ten, but a Penn State news release points out that even with the proposed change, the university’s board would still be the smallest of the commonwealth’s state-related universities.
One argument in favor of a larger board comes from those who point out that the board has a large number of committees and subcommittees; with a smaller board, they say, it would be hard to populate those committees without stretching members too thin. “I’ve changed my view on board size since I got here,” Dan Mead ’75, ’77g, a new trustee who serves on the governance committee, said in yesterday’s meeting. “I used to think 12 to 14 would be enough. But I didn’t have the appreciation of the committee structure.”
Lubrano v. Dandrea. The most pointed exchanges of yesterday’s meeting, as was also the case in the August meeting, were those between committee vice-chair Rick Dandrea ’77 and committee member Anthony Lubrano ’82. Dandrea supported the original Proposal A, which would have reduced the number of alumni-elected trustees from nine to six; Lubrano opposed that. Dandrea argued that, even with six alumni trustees, Penn State would have greater alumni representation on its board than most of the peer schools that consultant Holly Gregory studied. “By the standard of our database, that is still a robust representation—exceptionally large, compared to most other schools.” Lubrano responded: “I would argue, how many other schools have 600,000—and growing—alumni?”
Dandrea, a trustee elected to the board by its business and industry members, also maintained that a relatively tiny percentage of Penn State alumni show interest in the elections. “With execption of the post-Sandusky-scandal years,” he said, “only 2.5 to 5% of alumni voted in elections. Your marketing firm or whatever tells you to cite 600,000 alumni, but ….” He pointed out that the top vote-getter in the 2014 alumni election, Alice Pope ’79, ’83g, ’86g, garnered 10,000 votes, a small fraction of those eligible to vote. Lubrano’s response: “So how many people voted to put you on the board, sir? Five. … Ours is far more democratic than yours will ever be.” At that point, committee chair Keith Eckel stepped in, saying, “I expect us all to be civil,” and the conversation moved on.
Risk management. There’s one component of board reform that came not from the governance committee, but from the committee on audit and risk. That committee is looking at the possibility of creating a subcommittee devoted entirely to “risk structure,” a concept that has to do with assessing and being prepared for various kinds of risks to an organization. (Some say the Sandusky scandal offers a classic case study in failures of risk management.) The idea has been championed in part by board member Ted Brown, who deals with risk management in his professional life—he owns a consulting firm that’s focused on the topic—and who is one of the alumni trustees elected to the board in the wake of the scandal. The audit and risk committee will report on its discussions on the subject at the full board meeting this afternoon.
Tina Hay, editor