Posts filed under ‘Sandusky scandal’
Board of Trustees Report: Barron Addresses Affordability of College; Lord Wants Freeh Report ‘Finished’
The Board of Trustees meeting began with what seemed, at times, like a graduate-level seminar in finance and statistics. President Eric Barron, addressing the board for the first time, dispensed with the usual presidential address highlighting various accomplishments of students and faculty and instead presented a 25-minute talk about the issues of access and affordability in higher education, complete with 22 pages of bar graphs, scatter charts, financial data, and bulleted lists of potential ways to make a Penn State education more affordable.
When I profiled Barron for our May/June issue, he told me he liked data. Click here for a PDF of his presentation today—you’ll see he may have understated his love of data.
More than three hours later, the meeting ended with a surprise resolution introduced by newly elected alumni trustee Al Lord ’67, who called for a roll call vote on “finishing” the Freeh report. Lord contends that the report is incomplete because Freeh did not talk to seven key people and because the truth of whether Penn State officials were aware of Jerry Sandusky’s crimes is still unknown.
“I want the board to agree that we’re not done. That’s all,” Lord said after the meeting. “It’s very simple—that we’re not finished. There are a lot of people that complain there’s misinformation in the report. I don’t know. I do know it’s not finished.”
Discussion was suspended because Penn State general counsel Stephen Dunham advised that it would need, for privacy reasons, to take place in executive session. Lord said the board had decided to have the discussion at its next meeting in September, and then the board briefly debated whether it needed to table the resolution to assure that the meeting did not end with a resolution on the floor. Although newly elected alumni trustee Robert Jubelirer ’59, ’62g said he believed the motion was tabled with the intent of killing it, board chair Keith Masser ’73 Eng said it was merely a formality. The motion was tabled.
It’s a lot to digest. So here are some of the details on both:
Barron’s report: He identified six major areas of emphasis for the university: excellence, student engagement, economic development and student career success, diversity and demographics, access and affordability, and technology and curriculum delivery.
Barron spoke in intricate detail about what he called Penn State’s “evolution into a tuition-driven university,” and showed a chart that made clear how few state budget dollars Penn State gets in comparison with the other Big Ten universities. He broke down how students pay for college and provided a table that showed how family income affects graduation rates: For every additional $10,000 in family income, a student’s chance of graduating rises 6 percent.
He discussed the rising level of debt college students face—66 percent of students graduate with some debt, and the average debt has grown from $20,000 to $35,429 in the past decade. Worse, Barron said, some students don’t have enough money to finish, so they are saddled with debt but don’t have a college degree. (This topic was fleshed out in a recent study by the Brookings Institutions, written about here by the New York Times.)
Barron said the university must focus on helping students to graduate in four years; an extra year of college, he said, is the “biggest tuition increase.” Among the ideas he floated: emphasizing the summer semester, possibly through “online summers” with reduced tuition for students with financial need or a “cost-contained” summer on campus, once the university could determine the break-even point for expenses.
He also said that he’d like Penn State to raise money to cover the “unmet need” many students have in paying for college after loans, scholarships, and grants. He noted that those students work to make up the money, and that extra time on the job can cause difficulties in the classroom. He would like to find a way that students don’t need to work more than 20 hours a week—he calculated that would cost the university $25 million for all in-state students at Penn State. He called it the Penn State Promise.
“Some of these things won’t work,” he said. “I’m talking a little bit out loud—let’s get strategic, let’s focus on these things.”
Several of the trustees praised the report, and Barron indicated he would tackle the other five issues in upcoming meetings.
Lord’s resolution: Generally, the way Penn State’s board has worked is that resolutions come up through the committees. Lord introduced this resolution, however, to the full board.
He said the trustees haven’t done anything with the Freeh report—except to fulfill the recommendations Freeh made and hand the report over to the NCAA, which in turn used the findings to impose sanctions. “By virtue of the fact that we didn’t reject it, the board tells me that they didn’t accept it,” he said. “To me, the absence of a rejection is acceptance.”
He said that “everyone has been sitting on their hands” waiting for the criminal trial of Graham Spanier, Gary Schultz ’71, ’75g, and Tim Curley ’76, ’78g. “I’m afraid that case is going to be dismissed,” he said, “and it’ll be ‘Penn State got out of it because of a technicality.’ I want the truth. I am hopeful of where it leads. I have very strong beliefs of where it will lead. But if any of those guys were guilty, then they belong in jail.”
Lord said he would be happy to provide specifics of incomplete parts of Freeh’s report, but he wanted to refresh his memory of the details before he did so. “I’m sort of brain dead after that mind-numbing conversation all afternoon,” he said.
Freeh did not have subpoena power; in his report, he indicated that was why he did not speak to the primary figures in the Sandusky scandal, among them Schultz, Curley, Joe Paterno, and Mike McQueary ’97. (Spanier did meet with Freeh’s investigators.) Said Lord: “Louis Freeh would tell you that, Look, I couldn’t talk to this guy because he’s part of a criminal investigation. But you’re talking about seven people, the seven key people who know what happened or as much as anybody knows about what happened—he never talked to anybody. I understand that some of them have claimed privilege because they’re in a criminal case, but that means [Freeh is] not finished.”
As if all that weren’t enough, here are a few additional—shorter—items from the meeting:
—Masser ran unopposed for chair and will serve for another year. Kathleen Casey ’88, a gubernatorial appointee, defeated Bill Oldsey ’76, an alumni-elected trustee, for the vice chair position. As usual, vote totals were not announced.
—Casey’s election as vice chair opened up an at-large position on the executive board, and the trustees voted to fill the spot with Ryan McCombie ’70. He is the first of the alumni trustees elected post-Sandusky scandal to be appointed to the executive committee.
—The board granted emeritus trustee status to Samuel Hayes and Paul Suhey ’79, with all nine alumni trustees abstaining. Anthony Lubrano ’82 suggested again that emeritus trustee status be delayed until governance reform is enacted.
—The board approved a $4.6 billion budget for 2014-15 with a tuition increase of 2.99 percent for University Park and increases ranging from zero to 2.4 percent for other campuses.
Lori Shontz, senior editor
Jennie Noll, director of Penn State’s Network on Child Protection and Well-Being, had just asked if anyone in the audience knew how many children in the United States were affected each year by abuse. Not one person raised a hand.
Noll revealed the answer: nearly 2 million. Silence again.
“How come we don’t know that?” asked Noll. “How come everyone doesn’t know that?”
That difficult question was the focus of last night’s panel discussion, “Making a Difference, Every Day… Preventing Child Abuse Begins With You.” At the event, sponsored in part by the Alumni Association, keynote speaker James Hmurovich, CEO and president of Prevent Child Abuse America, led an honest, emotional discussion about the issues of child abuse, neglect, and maltreatment — and the ways communities can keep kids safe. Some highlights from Hmurovich’s address:
-Because of his background in the Indiana Department of Corrections, Hmurovich became aware of the strong link between child abuse and juvenile delinquency. When he learned that 63 percent of the girls and boys in the Indiana juvenile correction system had been abused as children, “I started to put together the puzzle pieces,” he says.
-In his work with the Child Welfare Department, Hmurovich recalls talking with women who were able to successfully get off welfare. In describing how they did it, he says, their stories all began with the same phrase: “Someone took the time to …” Hmurovich’s takeway: It’s up to us, individually and as a community, to “create a norm of caring.”
-Hmurovich says federal legislators must create public policy and provide tools for parents and caregivers to ensure healthy childhood development, he says. “Our public policy in the U.S. isn’t exactly where it should be.”
Later in the evening, as part of the panel discussion, Montgomery County assistant district attorney and Alumni Association vice president Kevin Steele ’92g talked about the importance of child advocacy centers, like the ones he’s helped establish throughout Pennsylvania with non-profit group Mission Kids. Because these centers employ “investigative teams” of experts to interview children after abuse, victims aren’t forced to retell their stories to multiple people during the legal process — an experience that’s often painful, he says. The goal of Mission Kids and programs like it, explained Steele, is not only to achieve justice, but to promote healing for victims of abuse.
Steele also encouraged students in the audience to stay involved with child abuse prevention programs even after graduation, explaining that many PSAA chapters are active with child protection organizations around the country.
At the end of the evening, guests were invited to take blue pinwheels — a symbol, explained Hmurovich, of “every child’s right to a happy, healthy childhood.”
Mary Murphy, associate editor
Three Questions Project: It’s that time of year again: Voting for this year’s Board of Trustees election starts April 10 and, as in years past, The Penn Stater asked every candidate three crucial questions about the issues facing Penn State. We’ve compiled their answers, along with more info about each candidate, here.
Denied: The Pennsylvania Supreme Court denied Jerry Sandusky’s appeal for a new trial yesterday, ruling there was “no prejudice” against Sandusky during his 2012 trial for child sexual abuse. In a statement, Attorney General Kathleen Kane said, “We are very pleased with the Supreme Court’s decision. Protecting Pennsylvania’s children is one of my top priorities and I remain committed to seeking justice for all victims of sexual abuse.” Check out the Centre Daily Times’ coverage here.
In position: The Lady Lions earned their fourth-straight bid in the NCAA tournament, nabbing the No. 3 seed. The team faces No. 14 Wichita State on Sunday at the BJC. And despite the photo (above), shared on Twitter by WJAC’s Matt Maisel (@Matt_Maisel), Maggie Lucas wasn’t the only Lady Lion psyched about last night’s seed announcement; the photo was taken mere milliseconds before the rest of the team burst into cheers. Check out a video of their reaction here.
Good conversation: Vietnam War correspondent and Bronze Star Medal recipient Joseph Galloway is the guest on Thursday’s “Conversations from Penn State,” the WPSU-TV series. Galloway, whose career as a military and war correspondent spans more than 50 years, is also the best-selling author of “We Were Solders, Once… and Young,” on which the 2002 Mel Gibson flick “We Were Soliders” was based. The episode will air at 8 p.m. Thursday on WPSU-TV, and online at http://conversations.psu.edu.
Powerful partner: Some good news coming from Penn State’s partnership with PCAR (Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape), now in its third year: more than 30,000 people affiliated with Penn State have been trained to identify and report child abuse in the past year, and prevention efforts—including more training programs, conferences, and support groups—have been bolstered throughout the state. For more information on Penn State and PCAR’s efforts to prevent child abuse, check out Penn State News‘ coverage here.
Mary Murphy, associate editor
Gift of life: Cheryl Green was a 19-year-old Penn State sophomore when her kidneys failed and she went into cardiac arrest. Two years later she received a transplant with the kidney of her mom, who was 51 at the time. Today, 37 years later, Green is still living with her mother’s kidney, as recounted in this feature from Lancaster Online. “I have an 88-year-old kidney in me,” Green says. “People said it wouldn’t last.”
Another day, another honor for John Urschel: Penn State’s offensive lineman/math genius is a semifinalist for the Sullivan Award, which the AAU awards annually to the nation’s top amateur athlete. Past award winners include everyone from Wilma Rudolph to Bruce Jenner to Tim Tebow. Fan voting counts in choosing the finalists, so click here to cast yours. Voting ends March 23.
Video of the day: Our friends at Onward State, who alerted us to this video, described it as “Dude Writes a Song About David Taylor.” And, yes, that’s true, but Mark Bader’s karaoke version of “Piano Man,” apparently titled “Magicman” in honor of the four-time Big Ten champ’s Twitter handle and nickname, is really so much more. It’s got shutouts to everything from Ed Ruth’s cradle to Cael Sanderson’s bald head, to everyone from Nico Megaludis to the team’s sports information director, Pat Donghia. Taylor gets the best lyric, though: “He’s slick and he’s sleek/And he wrestles complete/except for he never does throws.” Funny and accurate. You’ve really got to see this and hear this to believe it, so click here. Just don’t have the volume on your computer up too high.
Dottie Sandusky speaks: The Today show interviewed Dottie Sandusky, who says her husband did not sexually abuse young boys in their basement. She also showed interviewer Matt Lauer around the basement. If you want to watch, here the link to the seven-minute segment that aired Wednesday morning, and here’s the link to the full 50-minute interview posted later in the morning. The interview is receiving some criticism online, notably from Jennifer Storm ’02, executive director of Pennsylvania’s Victim/Witness Assistance Program and an abuse survivor herself. She tweeted, “It’s morally reprehensible that @todayshow takes its victims to crime scene where many young men were sexually abused by Sandusky” and “sexual assault victims deserve to be believed & once cases are concluded left alone to heal, not be revictimized by @todayshow.”
Lori Shontz, senior editor
Start ‘em early: Here’s a cool story from yesterday’s Morning Call on the rise of “mini-thons” at high schools all over Pennsylvania — 136 this year alone. And just like the larger THON, the events are raising big money for the Four Diamonds Fund: The Bethlehem Area School District raised more than $20,000 at the eight-hour dance marathon last Saturday.
Speaking out: Dottie Sandusky will appear tomorrow morning on NBC’s Today in what looks to be an emotional interview with Matt Lauer. In a promo released this morning, Jerry Sandusky’s wife tells Lauer that her husband, who has been in maximum security prison since June 2012, misses “family meals” and “time with grandkids.”
Dynamic duo: A couple of big honors for men’s basketball player D.J. Newbill and Tim Frazier; they’re two of the 2014 All-Big Ten award winners, announced yesterday. Newbill, who’s ranked second in the Big Ten, earned Second Team All-Big Ten honors; Frazier, ranked ninth in the Big Ten, received third-team recognition.
Franklin moves in: Sunday’s Pittsburgh Tribune featured this story on James Franklin, who talks about the move from Nashville to State College—and his childhood, which included lots of time with his extended family in the ‘Burgh. Here’s a fun fact: According to Franklin’s cousin Karen Zellars, who’s quoted in the piece, little James could make one killer apple pie.
Mary Murphy, associate editor
Lessons from crises: As president of Bank of New York Mellon and chairman of the Penn State Board of Trustees, Karen Peetz ’77 is familiar with crises. She reflects on both the financial crisis and the Sandusky scandal in a piece from today’s CNNMoney: Postcards blog and shares lessons learned from both ordeals. Among her remarks: “We have to show we understand that the world in which we operate has changed and that we embrace new ways of thinking and operating. In other words, we have to prove ourselves — prove ourselves worthy of trust.”
All the right moves: If you’ve got a couple free minutes, check out this video featuring a TedXPSU project from earlier this week. On Tuesday, the music school’s chamber orchestra set up shop in the HUB, and passersby were invited to conduct the group in a classical performance. Several students jumped right in—and delivered some surprisingly convincing performances.
More than hockey: We told you about ESPN‘s John Buccigross’s visit to Penn State a few weeks ago, when the famed sportscaster took in a men’s hockey game at Pegula. Buccigross talked more about his Penn State experience with the Centre County Gazette for this piece, posted this morning. A few of his favorite things about State College: Cafe 210, Damon’s mozzarella sticks, and the Pegula Ice Arena’s spacious urinals. Yes, you read that right.
Drop the bass: Ever found yourself wondering if Penn State has a student group for all the bass-fishing enthusiasts on campus? Well, here is your answer, courtesy of Onward State.
Mary Murphy, associate editor
President-elect Eric Barron seems to like automotive analogies. He rattled off two when he spoke to the Board of Trustees on Monday afternoon, immediately after being named Penn State’s 18th president:
Auto Analogy No. 1: When Barron was learning to drive, his father told him to lift up his head and look not at the hood ornament, but down the road: “You will discover it is much easier to get where you are trying to go.” Barron found that the tip resulted in “a much better driving experience” and also turned out to be a good life philosophy. “Our job, all of our job, is to see down the road, sense the future, and ensure that this great institution is at the forefront of success and achievement.” (more…)
Eric Barron spent 20 years at Penn State, a larger chunk of his professional career than he’s spent anywhere else, by a lot. He called Penn State’s current president, Rod Erickson, formerly his boss in the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences, “much more than that—he was my mentor.” He said at every job he’s held since leaving Penn State, including his current position as Florida State president, he has taken two lessons he learned here, the “push for excellence and the power of community.”
“In so many ways,” Barron said Monday afternoon, just after being appointed Penn State’s 18th president, “I never left Penn State.”
Which doesn’t mean, Barron stressed, that he knows everything there is to know about this place. He left University Park in 2006 (click here to learn about what he did during the past eight years), and he knows the campus and the entire Penn State system have changed a lot since then.
“I have a lot to learn,” he said. “I want to make sure that I take the time to learn everything that I can. I think it’s a mistake to think that just because I was here eight years ago and for a while, or that because I’m paying attention to what’s going on in the world, that I know everything and can make decisions.”
Barron gave that answer in responding to a question about how he would bridge the divide in Penn State’s community that is one of the lasting effects of the Sandusky scandal, but his need to learn was a theme he sounded throughout his brief media tour Monday afternoon, even when asked about his goals for Penn State.
“The first thing I’d like to do,” he said, “is tap each dean on the shoulder and say, ‘I’d like to spend half a day with you. Show me your physical plant. Tell me those things you brag about. Those things you struggle with.’ Because I do think it’s a mistake to sit here and say, ‘I’ve been a university president for four years and directed a national lab, I know what to do.’ It doesn’t usually work that way. (more…)
This was old school. A two-hour Board of Trustees meeting. No contentious votes. Only one participant in the public comment session. An uncontested election for board chair.
The media covering the meeting joked that we didn’t have much to write about.
Partially, of course, that’s because there’s more discussion and fleshing out of ideas during the committee meetings, held the day before the full board meeting. Flat out, there’s just more to write about from those. Partially that’s because the major issue confronting the board these days is governance reform, and that’s something they talked about in an executive session yesterday with governance consultant Holly Gregory.
And it’s not like nothing happened. Here’s a quick rundown:
—Masser re-elected board chair: This is a short term, just six months, because the board previously voted to change its annual meeting—at which officers are elected for one-year terms—from January to July. Just this once, the board needed to have a stopgap election to fill the six months from January to July. Incumbent Keith Masser ’73 was unanimously voted in. Also voted in were the other board officers, Penn State staffers. Vice chair Paul Silvis ’06g was elected in July to fill a vacant spot, so he already had six months remaining in his term.
—Executive committee spots filled: The three trustees put forth by the governance committee—Kathleen Casey ’88, Donald Cotner ’71, and Richard Dandrea ’77—to join the executive committee as at-large members were approved. There was no discussion, and no one nominated anyone else.
—Public comment: The number of speakers at public comment continued to dwindle with only one—Wendy Silverwood, whose anger at the Freeh report and trustees was palpable and who asked the board to marginalize the Freeh report and apologize to those harmed by it, including the Paterno family, lettermen, and Penn State community. She also suggested that Louis Freeh speak this spring at the third annual conference sponsored by the Network for Child Protection and Well-Being. He could be part of a panel, she said, with some of the people quoted in the Paterno family’s report—former attorney general Dick Thornburgh, Jim Clemente, and two doctors.
“The Freeh report missed a critical opportunity to educate the public on the identification of child sexual victimization and instead used the platform created by this scandal to sensationalize the blaming of Joe Paterno,” she said. “This was a terrible disservice not only to Penn Staters, but also to all parents, grandparents, and children in our state.”
—Network for Child Protection and Well-Being: Susan McHale, director of the Social Science Institute, presented an informational report on the Network for Child Protection and Well-Being (which is housed in her institute). She built off an introduction from provost and executive vice president Nicholas Jones, who noted other examples of Penn State’s commitment to children, including the Children, Youth, and Families Consortium that was started in 1998. But when the Sandusky scandal broke, Penn State had “less than a handful” of experts in child maltreatment, and the university immediately began to remedy the situation. It made a cluster hire of 12 faculty to beef up what the center could do.
—Application numbers rising: In his report to the board, president Rod Erickson said that undergraduate applications are up 19 percent at University Park and 7 percent at other campuses. The university has also received a record number of applications to the Schreyer Honors College: 3,277 students have applied for 300 spots.
Lori Shontz, senior editor