Paul V. Suhey, Ballot Position No. 4

SuheyPaul V. Suhey ’79 Lib

Orthopedic surgeon
Martin & Suhey Orthopedics
State College, Pa.

Read Suhey’s official bio and position statement here (PDF download).


1. What should Penn State be looking for in its next president?

Qualities that are priorities for me in a university presidential candidate:

• Someone (he or she) who understands and appreciates the heritage and character of our university and community, and our roots as an agricultural and land grant institution.

• A leader who understands the breadth and depth of Penn State’s mission of teaching, research and service. A leader who is innovative and in tune with the challenges we will face as one of the nation’s largest and most complex universities. • Humility and charisma. I think those two attributes are not mutually exclusive and the right candidate will have a healthy balance of the two.

• A good listener, because I believe the best leaders “spend more time on receive than they do on broadcast.” That is why we have two ears and one mouth.

• A good communicator because one of the most important jobs of a university president is his or her ability to represent the school and to establish support and rapport among students, faculty, alumni, and legislators.

• Courage and conviction. Enough said.

• Talent, vision, and experience to recognize and adapt to the dynamic, ever-changing demands of higher education. Our goal should be a search that’s as broad as possible, and identifies a diverse pool of both traditional (academic) and non-traditional candidates of the highest caliber.

2. What changes or reforms should the Board of Trustees consider to help the university progress after the events of 2011 and 2012? Please explain why—or, if you don’t think reform is needed, please explain why not.

After considering recommendations from the Pennsylvania Attorney General, Faculty Senate and Mid-Atlantic States Association, and several stakeholders and outside experts on best practices for governance, we have made the following significant changes:

• Replacing the previous three board committees with six action-focused committees and three new subcommittees that meet more frequently.

• Opening Most board of Trustees committee and other sessions to the public, and instituting a public comment period at each full board meeting.

• Adding faculty, staff, students, and alumni as members to almost all board committees, increasing representation from the university community across the board.

At the same time, much more remains to be done. The Governance Committee is conducting a comprehensive review of governance best practices and developing a specific set of reform recommendations, which it intends to swiftly implement. These reforms include removing the Governor and President from voting positions on the board. The General Counsel will also report directly to the Board of Trustees. In addition other reforms being considered include changing the board’s bylaws to require that the university’s annual Clery Act and Right-to-Know law reports be presented to the board. I believe the changes we have made are helping to make our university stronger, more accountable and well-positioned to move forward. Moreover, not only are we a better institution today, but Penn State is also becoming recognized as a leader in transparency and governance, and is serving as a model for others.

3. How do you define the role of an alumni trustee, and how would that inform the way you would approach your term on the board?

Alumni trustees, just like all trustees, are stewards of the university. It is our responsibility to safeguard the interests and priorities of alumni, students, and faculty—and the welfare of the entire university community. I believe that a board, including the Penn State BOT, should be focused on strategic planning and oversight and the administration should be tasked with the day-to-day operation of the university. Someone once used the expression “noses in, hands out,” when referring to a board. I think that philosophy is healthy and right, and I believe organizations run most efficiently that way. That dynamic is what we should be striving for at Penn State. I have always considered it an honor to represent the largest alumni association in the world. I do not take this responsibility lightly. I have always and will continue to hear and listen to alumni sentiment. At the same time, however, I will not be afraid to make a difficult or unpopular decision I feel is in the best interest of the entire university. Contrary to recent criticism, we as a board deliberate, discuss, and debate many issues. Once a vote has been taken on an issue, however, I believe it is necessary to fully support that decision. To use a football metaphor, once a play is called, run it to the best of your ability.

Next candidate

Back to “Board of Trustees 2013” page

34 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Duane Radmore  |  April 4, 2013 at 2:58 pm

    ” Courage and conviction. Enough said” unlike your cowardly termination of Joe Paterno.

  • 2. Anonymous  |  April 5, 2013 at 10:13 am

    Duane Radmore, my exact thought when I read that.

  • 3. Mb Moore  |  April 5, 2013 at 3:20 pm

    All in favor of Paul Suhey and his responses, position & views. Re- elect him !!!

  • 4. Mj  |  April 8, 2013 at 10:01 am

    I believe it did take courage and conviction to do what was right for the university. If more people in the position of power at Penn State had that kind of courage and conviction, than there would have been a stop to the crimes that were perpetuated on our campus.

  • 5. Claude Kirshner  |  April 8, 2013 at 12:23 pm

    I think we are going to retire you three weeks early.

  • 6. wlevinson  |  April 9, 2013 at 12:42 pm

    Mj is the same anonymous commentator who supports Stephanie Deviney. It is telling that the BOT’s supporters at the Collegian and Centre Daily Times are almost universally anonymous. I will put my name behind what I say (William A. Levinson, B.S. ’78).

    I was once proud to cite Paul Suhey as living proof that Penn State is where the football players get good enough grades to go to medical school. The reason is that, under the leadership of the man whom Suhey and his colleagues fired without cause on 11/9, grades came first and football second. Coach Paterno would rather have had a star player miss one or more games than not graduate.

    Success with Honor, however, includes the character to stand up to a bad decision the way George S. Patton Jr. (then a junior officer) stood up to a lynch mob that wanted to hang a Black enlisted man who had been accused of raping a white woman. Patton said the mob would have to kill him (Patton) first, and it backed off. The soldier was later acquitted.

    Paul Suhey, on the other hand, needed to risk only the bad opinion of individuals like John Surma, Kenneth Frazier, and so on as opposed to his life. He took the easy way instead of what Colonel Donnithorne’s “The West Point Way of Leadership” calls “the harder right.” Suhey’s judgment was simply not there when Penn State needed it. He subsequently told a half-truth to the effect that the Board did not fire Coach Paterno, but merely “retired” him early, and then implied that the Paterno family endorsed his candidacy (which it does not).

  • 7. jkramer  |  April 11, 2013 at 4:19 pm

    It is easy to take shots at leaders. They have to make the tough decisions. PSU needs to move forward. We need leaders who are going to ACT and LEAD not leaders with individual agendas regarding past events. We need to come together as a PSU family. We can do that now. Supporting Mr. Suhey will get us one step closer.

  • 8. Marie Cornelius  |  April 14, 2013 at 10:29 am

    The BOT will be voting for 12 year limits in May. If Suhey had any integrity, he would not have even run for this post, as his 12 year limit expires. This is not leadership. This is not courage. This is utter selfishness.

  • 9. Michele Rhoades  |  April 14, 2013 at 10:51 am

    Name one thing that Paul Suhey has personally accomplished as a trustee before or after Nov 2011 that merits giving him another term

  • 10. Dave Ketchen  |  April 14, 2013 at 10:53 am

    Voters, please read this letter to the CDT editor:

    Past performance is the best predictor of future performance.Paul Suhey failed in his duties when it mattered most and should not be re-elected to the Penn State board of trustees.

    The Freeh report makes it clear that two reasons for the Sandusky scandal were that Suhey and the rest of the board “did not perform oversight duties” and that they “failed to inquire reasonably and to demand detailed information” at crucial moments.In other words, poor governance and poor communication were central problems.

    On Suhey’s campaign website, he cites as a “key accomplishment” of his tenure that “in 2004, several trustees and I took steps – including obtaining legal counsel — to attempt to bring about change in the governance of the board and to improve communication at all levels of the administration and on the board itself.”

    That was seven years before the Sandusky scandal erupted. What happened during these years? Why did Suhey fail in his effort to create positive change?

    I see two possibilities. One is that Suhey is overstating the vigor with which he pursued improved governance and communication. The other possibility is that he is an ineffective leader.Neither scenario reflects well on Suhey’s candidacy for another term.

    Jane Reed


  • 11. Mary Ann DeWitt  |  April 14, 2013 at 10:53 am

    Suhey was a football player who helped throw his coach under the bus; after 15 years on the board, why does he think he needs to run again? He has shown no leadership and the fact he was one who helped throw JVP under the bus, he should NOT BE REELECTED. He has nothing to show for 15 years on the board. Goodbye, Paul

  • 12. Dave Ketchen  |  April 14, 2013 at 10:56 am

    Voters should also be aware that incumbent Paul Suhey has served for 15 years. In May, the board of trustees will vote on a package of reforms that includes term limits of 12 years.

    This is being done in response to a recommendation in the Freeh report.

    Simply by running, Suhey is violating the spirit of reform that the board at long last is finally starting to embrace.

    Read more here:

  • 13. NAL  |  April 14, 2013 at 11:05 am

    Paul Suhey FAILED in his role on the current BOT – that is clear and unanimous from just about every source – except of course… THEM. I also don’t understand his double speak… he talks about fluffy stuff here (probably precanned for him) but yet … AGAIN …. FAILES to tell us why HE is qualified. I can only conclude he has never been and remains UNQUALIFIED… An orthopedic surgeon can bring little value to directing an organization with 4B operating budget. GO HOME PAUL SUHEY … been there, done that – don’t want any more of you!! If you honestly love PSU – and if even if you are so full of yourself that you believe you belong on the board – the perception of the universe is that you should step down … so for the “love” of your school – please do so ASAP!

  • 14. David Geiss  |  April 14, 2013 at 11:14 am

    I believe that Dr. Suhey is educated enough to recognize the difference between a thorough root cause analysis resulting in effective corrective action and a knee-jerk, politically motivated action. He has been weighed, measured and found wanting. If Joe wasn’t disappointed in him, why would the Paterno family be lined up against him now?

  • 15. Rhino  |  April 14, 2013 at 11:28 am

    So long Paul.You Devaney and any other 11/11 trustess are as good as gone. It may take awhile but you should all Consider yourselves officially retired, care of the alumni.

  • 16. AMHW  |  April 14, 2013 at 11:43 am

    You showed who you were and what you stood for back in 11/11 when you fired a man who gave 61 yrs. of his life to our university. You didn’t have the backbone to stand up for a man who was not convicted of any crime and you didn’t stand up for due process. You knew Joe Paterno and what he stood for throughout the years and you allowed that to happen to him. Then you had the audacity to say he wasn’t fired but rather the board retired him 3 wks. early. You never bothered to get to the truth before reacting. Do everyone a favor and RESIGN!

  • 17. Anonymous  |  April 14, 2013 at 11:50 am

    You have embarrased not only Penn State, but also your family and yourself. I’m sure Larry and Matt are as embarrassed of you as we are.

  • 18. Eric Goodhard  |  April 14, 2013 at 11:53 am

    Mr. Suhey failed at every corner during his past term.Oversight, according to the beloved fictional Freeh report.Judgement, as evidenced by now the highest cost pubic university.Integrity/courage ,if he had any of either , as a former player HE should have gone to Joe in person to inform him of his termination.I pray he has better qualities as a physician.

  • 19. Penn State '85  |  April 14, 2013 at 12:06 pm

    I’m sorry, but Dr. Suhey has not demonstrated leadership during his tenure as a BoT member. His and others’ inaction over the past decade to institute the type of governance found in most corporations or public trust institutions led directly to this crisis and damaged the reputation of this great university and cost it hundreds of millions of dollars. Its time to bring in new leadership that can allow us to move on.

  • 20. Bill frattarola  |  April 14, 2013 at 12:24 pm

    Do you feel you did everything possible to discover the whole truth about the Sandusky scandal? Has pursuit of the whole truth taken a back seat to some other greater cause? Thank you.

  • 21. William A Levinson  |  April 14, 2013 at 12:57 pm

    I was once proud to cite trustee Paul Suhey as proof that Penn State’s football players can earn good enough grades to go to medical school. Grades came first and football second under coach Joe Paterno’s Grand Experiment.

    But success with honor goes beyond academic and athletic achievement to include judgment, character and integrity. Suhey’s judgment was simply not there when Penn State needed it on Nov. 9, 2011, and neither was that of his fellow trustees.

  • 22. David Ritter  |  April 14, 2013 at 1:47 pm

    You showed us your true colors…whatever the colors of cowardice and panic are supposed to be.

  • 23. jeanne  |  April 14, 2013 at 2:02 pm

    I cannot in good conscious vote for a man who did not do the right thing,who didn’t investigate to make an informed decision., who jumped on the bandwagon and went along with status quo. There was no success with honor when it we neded most and there was no standing up and fighting for our great university.

  • 24. Maribeth Roman Schmidt  |  April 14, 2013 at 8:55 pm

    You are a complete and total embarrassment to every Penn Stater. You really never thought to ask your former coach — the man who instilled the values you claim to live by – what he knew about the Sandusky indictment? Never challenged your fellow trustees to ensure that due process, heck, the benefit of the doubt, was honored? Your cowardice inside the boardroom makes me physically ill. Whatever your personal vendetta may have been, it is time to come clean and “retire” yourself NOW.

  • 25. Anonymous  |  April 14, 2013 at 9:36 pm

    The Paterno family does not support him for a reason. Elect 3 others with more integrity.

  • 26. PSU parent  |  April 15, 2013 at 12:04 am

    Paul Suhey’s main support in this election will be other BoT members who are circling the wagons to justify their poor leadership, and people who has received or been promised sums of money from Suhey during his 15 years on the BoT. How can this dishonest traitor pretend to advocate for reforms like 12 year term limits during his 15th year on the BoT. He is a disgrace. His mere presence on the Board is enough to prevent the PSU family from coming together and moving forward. He should be ashamed of himself.

  • 27. Linda Berkland  |  April 15, 2013 at 6:42 am

    The only part of this I enjoyed reading was at the very end…. “Next Candidate”! The date on this candidate shows he is expired and needs to be tossed in the trash. If Paul Suhey cared one iota about Penn State he would simply resign.

  • 28. Michelle  |  April 15, 2013 at 7:11 am

    I will not be supporting Paul Suhey or any other member of the board from Nov 11. There appalling lacking of foresight in preparing our university for a crisis is the primary reason. I certainly am disgusted by there treatment of Coach Paterno but that is only part of my reasoning. We deserve trustees who not only understand our traditions but can prepare us for the future. Allowing the media to run wild with the story while remaining silent has done irreparable harm. The status quo has got to go!

  • 29. Vote now  |  April 15, 2013 at 7:48 am

    Too bad he wasn’t asked about DUE PROCESS.

    My vote is for Brown, Doran and Oldsey.

  • 30. Anonymous  |  April 15, 2013 at 8:29 am

    Suhey and his fellow BOT members still present from November 2011 are a disgrace to our University.

  • 31. Mary Ferguson  |  April 15, 2013 at 9:36 am

    Paul Suhey has been on the BOT long enough. This is not a life time position. He failed as a trustee in March 2011 by not asking questions and in November 2011. His actions and the entire BOT of November 2011 have cost the university irreparable damage. The university can never move forward until every one of them is replaced.

  • 32. Ted Brown  |  April 15, 2013 at 10:32 am

    1. Suhey went to President Spanier long before the Sandusky scandal to try to get Joe fired.
    2. For many years Penn State was number 2, in the Big Ten, in the AAU benchmarking study of Faculty income. In about 2005, we slipped from number 2 to number 4. I’m told we’ve slipped further. We will not continue to be the great University, we are, if we don’t address this. Great Faculty cost more than good faculty. Academia is competitive for talent, just like business. As the President of a Crisis Management Consulting firm, I know what competition for talent is. What has Suhey done to restore us to the top? Faculty and Staff morale are at their lowest level ever. What has Suhey done to address that? If we raise Faculty income, where will the money come from? The State, tuition, or Philanthropy. We must keep tuition competitive. What has Suhey done to help with that? As a Trustee, I’ll work to get the State to contribute more. (Why so many BOT members from a State that only contributes 6% ?) I’ll work to increase Philanthropy. I’m a member of the Mount Nittany Society, Presidents Club, etc. I was instrumental in creating the Parmi Nous Endowment and gave a Leadership gift.

  • Suhey did not make tough decisions. He made easy and cowardly decisions that required no in-depth or any moral or ethical gut-check. His actions cost the university tens of million dollars and long term damage to the university.
    Joe McCann, Chairman, Penn State Hotel & Restaurant Society

  • 34. William A Levinson  |  April 15, 2013 at 6:37 pm

    Deviney and Suhey do not seem to understand that the Board of Trustees is not a country club,but a responsibility. Neither has taken any identifiable action since 11/9 to treat it as such.

    Examples include failure to review and challenge the Freeh Report, and failure to act on the fact that either the President of Penn State or the NCAA lied about the death penalty threat, and therefore $60 million of Penn State’s money. Their rush to judgment on 11/9 also demonstrates their lack of fitness even though they followed poor leadership from individuals like John Surma. “Trustee” does not mean rubber-stamping another individual’s decision, much as the country club executive committee would like the Board to run in exactly that manner.

    The country club party is over for Suhey and Deviney effective July 1, and it will be over for Alexander, Arnelle, and possibly Myers (he is the only one who has done anything identifiable to earn a second chance) as of July 1 2014. It may be a little harder to remove the rest of the problems, but they may leave on their own when they realize that nobody in the Penn State community trusts or respects them.

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