Board of Trustees Wrapup: Settlements, Sanctions, New Vice Chair

July 12, 2013 at 7:04 pm 8 comments

New vice chair Paul Silvis, left, and chair Keith Masser meet the media after Friday's meeting.

New vice chair Paul Silvis, left, and chair Keith Masser meet the media after Friday’s meeting.

The biggest news that come out of Friday’s Board of Trustees meeting came from two items that weren’t on the agenda.

The board voted to authorize settlement offers to some of Jerry Sandusky’s victims, although it did not provide any details about the number of settlements, the amount of the settlements or the deliberations that surrounded the settlements.

The chair of the board’s legal committee, Ira Lubert ’73, said the committee had been authorized to do so itself, but decided it was “in the best interest of the university” for the full board to vote. He said the board had twice been briefed confidentially, once on June 25, the other time during Friday morning’s executive session at Penn State Fayette.

The other big news also came from that executive session: football coach Bill O’Brien addressed the board—chair Keith Masser ’73 said he had issued an invitation—and appeared to be discussing the possibility of requesting a reduction in the NCAA sanctions.

Executive sessions are closed to the media and public, but the meeting was held in a room with windows, and O’Brien’s slides were visible to anyone in the hall. (Click here for a report from Mike Dawson ’02 of the Centre Daily Times, who was on the scene.)

Board chair Keith Masser ’73 confirmed in a news conference after the meeting that he had invited O’Brien to speak and that the university would like to ask the NCAA for relief from the sanctions: “We would like to do that at some point.” He said that “we have some work to do” before anything would happen. “I’ll use one of Coach O’Brien’s analogies: Instead of shoot and fire, you’ve got to shoot, aim, and fire.”

As usual, the meeting was jam-packed. Here are a few other highlights:

Paul Silvis ’06g was elected vice chair, a position that became vacant when Stephanie Nolan Deviney ’97g was not re-elected. His term, like Masser’s, lasts until January 2014. Silvis defeated Ryan McCombie ’70; the ballot is secret, but Masser said that 27 ballots were cast and that a majority—more than 14—went to Silvis on the first ballot.

At the end of the meeting, McCombie read a joint statement pledging that he and Silvis would continue to work together.

“Ryan and I have been been friends and respected each other for a long time,” Silvis said. “He decided to run, I decided to run, and we got together and talked about it. We said regardless of who wins, we will continue to communicate and respect each other’s difference of opinion.

“I’ve lived in State College for a long time,” Silvis added. “I’ve been involved in the community, involved in Penn State. There’s a time when you’re called to step up, and this was the time.”

Silvis, a gubernatorial trustee who’s been on the board since 2010, is founder and president of SilcoTek Corporation, which is based in State College, and is still chair of the board of the first company he founded, Restek, which he sold to its employees.

—The trustees granted emeritus status to Anne Riley ’64, ’75g and David Jones ’54; two trustees, Anthony Lubrano ’82 and Ted Brown ’68, objected to the timing and voted no. (For more details on the emeritus trustee issues, click here for coverage of the Thursday governance committee meeting.)

Masser said he wasn’t particularly concerned about the disagreement: “It is healthy for differences of opinion among our board members to be aired out and discussed.”

—After protests from State College residents, the board voted to change the route of the natural gas pipeline to the West Campus Steam Plant so that it will go through campus, not through town. The change adds an additional $9.6 million to the cost of the project. State College residents were concerned about whether the pipeline—which is being built as the steam plant converts from coal to gas—was safe.

Asked whether the campus route is any safer, Masser said, “We feel there is no safety issue with what we’re doing. We would not jeopardize the safety of our students and staff and faculty on campus to do that. There’s gas lines running all over the world, so it will not be a safety issue.”

Lori Shontz, senior editor

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Entry filed under: Board of Trustees. Tags: , , , , , , , .

Emeritus Trustees Become Point of Contention The Nittany Lions are Headed to Ireland

8 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Bern Baby Bern  |  July 12, 2013 at 9:37 pm

    The beat goes on. More corruption from the old guard

  • 2. Dan Bernitt  |  July 13, 2013 at 1:38 am

    Absolutely amazing. Don’t shoot and fire. Shoot, aim, and then fire. Did Masser really say that? Did the reporter misquote? What the heck does it mean?

  • 3. Dan Bernitt  |  July 13, 2013 at 1:50 am

    I don’t blame you for all the bad reporting, Tom. No faculty member is that influential. :-)

    As for blaming all Board members, the decisions which I think were so very wrong were unanimous. None of those members objected. Unanimity should be unanimity. The bad decisions caused more damage to our university than any good done by other decisions that I know of.

  • 4. Susan Gifford, '80 MBA  |  July 13, 2013 at 10:05 am

    Again this “old guard” board picks and chooses between recommendations. I just went and re-read Jack Wagner’s report on PSU governance. As I recalled, there is indeed an entire section devoted to Emeritus Trustees. Wagner recommends eliminating this designation entirely; at the very least, he recommends transparency in explaining any and all costs associated with Emeritus status, and explanations of the benefits conveyed with the title. I have nothing personally against Anne Riley or David Jones, but they failed in their duty when they sat mute, allowing the Penn State name, and all current and former alums, staff, and students, to be trashed in the media, by Louis Freeh, and by the NCAA. I am sincerely disappointed in the four alumni trustees who were elected in the past two years who voted for the Emeritus status granted yesterday. This granting appears to be “business as usual” yet these four trustees were elected by the alums to change the culture of the board.

  • 5. bob krieger  |  July 15, 2013 at 9:30 am

    So regarding the new gas line to the steam plant-a couple of know-nothing ninnys in town complains about an u/g line and PSU folds and decides to spend another $10m to re-route it? Incredible and irresponsible! I’m certain both town and campus already have many u/g gas lines criss-crossing the area, and have for many years. It would be one thing if it was a no cost change, but to waste $10m this way is really malfeasance.

  • 6. Richard Brown  |  July 16, 2013 at 11:16 am

    Regarding the reported discussion about the possibility of requesting a reduction in the NCAA sanctions, I would hope that the University thinks long and hard before pursuing such an initiative. In my opinion, such an effort is not in Penn State’s best interest and will only serve to prolong the healing process. Maybe now is the time to just accept our penalties and move on.

  • 7. Todd Brewster  |  July 17, 2013 at 2:53 pm

    IS THIS A JOKE??? The trustees granted emeritus status to Anne Riley ’64, ’75g and David Jones ’54; two trustees,

    I think for remaining mute in Nov 2011, they need to be tarred and feathered and run out of town. What are the ways the remaining trustees active Nov 2011 can be impeached?

  • 8. Susan Gifford, '80 MBA  |  November 28, 2013 at 5:16 pm

    OK, has this site gone mad. What are comments 8 & 9, and where do they actually belong.
    With that out of the way, I thank Anthony & Ted for voting against the naming of two more emeritus trustees, and again wonder, as I did last summer, what the other four recently elected alumni trustees were thinking while voting yes. Also again, I have nothing against Ms. Reilly and Mr. Jones, except for their failure on and after Nov. 9, 2011. Why do they deserve “emeritus” for failure???

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