Posts tagged ‘Adam Taliaferro’

Trustees Vote Against Examining the Freeh Report

In a contentious 90-minute special meeting Tuesday, the Board of Trustees voted down a proposal to formally examine the findings of the Freeh Report, voting instead to maintain its current stance of waiting until legal proceedings related to the Sandusky scandal run their course.

Alumni trustee Al Lord ’67 presented the initial resolution, which proposed the creation of an ad hoc committee to “examine the Freeh Report, meet with Freeh and his investigative team, review the full set of undisclosed communications and report its findings to the full board.” That resolution was defeated by a 17-9 vote, with Lord and the other eight alumni-elected trustees the only “yes” votes. A second resolution, presented by gubernatorial appointee and board vice chair Kathleen Casey ’88, proposed that the board “continue to actively monitor the discovery and factual investigations … and, upon conclusion of such proceedings, shall determine whether any action is appropriate and in the best interest of Penn State.” That resolution passed 17-8, with alumni trustee Adam Taliaferro ’05 abstaining.

It was Lord, during discussion of the second resolution, who asked Casey to clarify whether the action in her proposal (written in collaboration with Ken Frazier ’73) was simply to “continue.” When Casey said yes, Lord replied, “Continue to do what we’re doing? Resolutions should do something. This is ‘continue to do nothing.'” It was an exchange that got to the heart of the divide among the board’s members: The alumni trustees remain committed to repudiating the most damning findings of the Freeh Report, while the majority of board members argue that any such action is at best premature.

Lord introduced the amended resolution, first proposed in July, by acknowledging other issues that demand the board’s attention. “I wish that instead of talking about being pleased with only increasing tuition two or three percent, we were talking about decreasing tuition,” he said. “But what needs immediate attention is the Freeh Report… My feeling is that the consequences of the Freeh Report and the NCAA consent decree live on.” He cited comments and signs encountered by Penn State fans at the Rutgers football game last month as proof that the damage to the university’s reputation remains unchecked. “When I saw those signs, it occurred to me how far we’ve fallen, or how other people think we’ve fallen, because we don’t stand up for ourselves. I’m bothered by how meekly we react. Generally speaking, we don’t react at all … there’s a sense of ‘Suck it up, we deserve it.’ We don’t deserve it.”

The four-person ad hoc committee proposed in Lord’s resolution would have included Lord, fellow alumni trustee Anthony Lubrano ’82, and two members appointed by board chair Keith Masser ’73. The alumni trustees were unanimous in their support: Ted Brown ’68 argued that any trustee who said they’d be willing to defend the university’s reputation in a one-on-one conversation was obligated to support the proposal, while Bob Jubelirer ’59, ’62g disputed the need to wait on the legal outcomes: “There is no downside, none at all, if we review the Freeh Report.”

Counterarguments came from Keith Eckel, an elected agricultural trustee, who cited strong applicant numbers and an upgraded credit rating as signs of the university’s health, and argued that the board’s responsibility was to “our students and our constituents. I urge the defeat of this resolution and the moving forward of the university, and the continued observation of the results of the trials that are ongoing, and because of which we cannot make any decision today.” That response brought an isolated “boo” from someone in the audience of roughly 100 people, many of whom applauded points made by the various alumni trustees. An otherwise tame exchange between the business and industry-elected trustee Rick Dandrea ’77 (an attorney who argued the wait-and-see approach on the ongoing court cases) and alumni trustee Ryan McCombie ’70 led to a more strident response from the crowd; two audience members were escorted out of the meeting after loud outbursts, prompting Masser to slam his gavel at the podium, while Lord turned toward the crowd and made a “time out” signal to try to quiet things down.

When order was restored, McCombie finished his point: “We accepted a scarlet letter that said we are a ‘football culture,’ when everyone knows we aren’t a football culture. I refuse to accept that letter; I don’t think the university should, either.”

After a bit more back and forth between the two sides—and the removal of one more audience member after an extended outburst—the trustees voted, with the the “nays” carrying the day. That was followed by the introduction of Casey’s resolution, a brief back-and-forth about when the board members had initially received it (the proposal was sent out electronically last Friday), and objections from Lord, Lubrano, and Bill Oldsey ’76 about the proposal’s wording. Taking issue with the final paragraph of Casey’s proposal, Oldsey noted, “It says ‘consistent with fiduciary duty’ … and then it says we’re going to wait and see. Unless I missed the last two hours, there is a lot of disagreement on the board about our fiduciary duty.”

That disagreement doesn’t figure to change anytime soon. A quick vote to table the proposal until a later date was shot down along the expected lines—the nine alumni trustees once again voted together—before the actual vote on the Casey/Frazier “wait and see” resolution. It passed.

Ryan Jones, senior editor

October 28, 2014 at 3:35 pm 4 comments

An Emotional Meeting of the Board of Trustees

Ken Frazier, shown in this file photo, was one of the main speakers at Friday's Board of Trustees meeting.

Ken Frazier, shown in this file photo, was one of the main speakers at Friday’s Board of Trustees meeting.

For more than two and a half hours, everyone fidgeted in their seats, and the tension built. The Board of Trustees meeting plodded along. Through a long informational report on the Penn State Hershey Medical Center. Through a time-lapse video of the Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital construction. Through a PowerPoint presentation about residence halls, one that touched on room and board fees.

The time scheduled for public comment, 3:45 p.m, came and went. Media checked their watches. Alumni speculated on Twitter about the board’s motive for dragging out the proceedings for so long.

And then, finally, what everyone was expecting—waiting for, really—happened.

Trustee Ken Frazier ’75, chair of the board task force that commissioned the Freeh report, defended Louis Freeh’s investigation in a full, public board meeting—and trustee Anthony Lubrano ’82, elected to the board 10 months ago because of alumni anger over the Sandusky scandal and how Joe Paterno was treated by the trustees, questioned the report’s validity.

Minutes later, during the public comment portion, five football lettermen, each wearing a sticker proclaiming himself “Member of the GRAND EXPERIMENT,” suggested that the trustees were driven by a hidden agenda, that they had failed in their leadership role, that they had opened the door to NCAA sanctions, that they had fractured the university community.

“The good news here,” said Mark Battaglia ’82, a center on the 1982 national championship team, “is that we’re losing. We didn’t lose. We’re losing badly. We need to change the strategy. You guys can do that. There’s still time.”

It was a moment that had been building, really, since the scandal broke 16 months ago, even before the Freeh report was released in July. Alumni anger intensified with the Freeh report, and then the release of the Paterno report last month seemed to mark another milestone. After more than a year of near-silence about the situation on Twitter, Jay Paterno ’91 and Scott Paterno ’97 began engaging with followers. More lettermen organized.

And Lubrano pushed his case harder Friday in the board’s public meeting.

First, Keith Eckel, chair of the legal and compliance committee, invited Frazier to “remind us what the thought process was surrounding the Freeh report.” Frazier largely repeated his defense of the report from Thursday’s separate committee meeting (the Centre Daily Times has a good summary here), although he did apologize for making an O.J. Simpson analogy: He had referred to Bill Cluck ’82, who had questioned him, as “one of the few people in this country that looks like you who actually believes the O.J. Simpson not guilty verdict was correct.”

On the Freeh report, Frazier said in part: “The facts are the facts. And the contemporaneous emails and other documentation are among the most important evidence produced. … The documents appear to show, in varying degrees, by date and by individual, that people who were in a position to protect kids did not do so.” And he reiterated his desire to not re-examine the Freeh report because that would be “rewriting history.”

Anthony Lubrano, seen in this file photo, questioned the validity of the Freeh report.

Anthony Lubrano, seen in this file photo, questioned the validity of the Freeh report.

Which prompted this response from Lubrano, who wants Louis Freeh and Dick Thornburgh, the former U.S. attorney general and Pennsylvania governor who wrote part of the Paterno family’s report, to meet with the board: “I understand that Ken says he doesn’t want to rewrite history. But I’m not sure history was correct.”

Loud applause.

“This isn’t grandstanding,” Lubrano added. “This is a serious matter. This is a very, very serious matter. Like the rest of you, I love this institution. What I understand in dealing with the alumni community is this very simple fact: They too love Penn State. And they don’t feel that due process and truth was something we had here.”

That was the crux of the discussion between the two men. Among the other points they touched on was whether the engagement letter promising that Freeh investigators would turn over evidence to the state attorney general was irregular; Lubrano questioned it, but Frazier said such a clause is standard procedure when an investigation overlaps in time with an ongoing criminal investigation.

And then former football player Adam Taliaferro ’05, who has rarely spoken in full board meetings since he was elected 10 months ago, chimed in:

“I’ve been an active listener since I joined the board,” he said. “As you can see, we’ve got very smart people on this board and very different positions on the hows and whys. We all know what the ‘what’ is. I do believe that bringing in people and asking the hows and whys would help us, I think, move forward. I think we all want to move forward. For me, I know it would help me better understand each side. Because I come here with my own preconceived notions. It’s hard for me not to.”

This prompted Alvin Clemens ’59 to speak: “The problem here is there’s a bit of divide between the alumni and the board. We all won’t be on board until we somehow smoke this out.” He said he wanted to know why NCAA president Mark Emmert has repeatedly mentioned the 1998 incident, which was investigated by the authorities, and why state authorities weren’t monitoring Jerry Sandusky after that 1998 investigation, although no charges were filed.

At this point, 29 minutes after the legal committee report began with Frazier’s Freeh report explanation, Jim Broadhurst ’65 suggested that it was time to move on to the next item on the committee’s agenda. Many of the public in attendance booed, but the board did move on.

So what’s next? Will Freeh and/or Thornburgh be invited to address the board? Will the discussion continue?

Board chair Keith Masser ’73 said afterward that the way to bring any such item to the full board is to go through the appropriate committee—in this case, legal and compliance—and ask the committee chair to have the committee vote. (That’s what the governance and long-range planning committee did during its Thursday meeting with the changes to the board structure. But that’s a subject for an upcoming blog post.) He and vice chair Stephanie Deviney ’97g said they would assure that that would follow up with the appropriate chair, Eckel.

I feel like I end a lot of scandal- and trustees-related posts like this, but it’s always appropriate: Stay tuned.

Lori Shontz, senior editor

March 15, 2013 at 9:58 pm 127 comments

Taliaferro, Lubrano, and McCombie Win Trustees Election

Anthony Lubrano speaks with alumni at the Meet the Candidates event held before the Blue White game. Photo by our editor, Tina Hay.

Exactly six months after the grand jury presentment was leaked—it was late afternoon, Nov. 4, when the charges made against Jerry Sandusky ’66, ’71g became known—the most contested Board of Trustees election in Penn State’s history ended. Adam Taliaferro ’05, Anthony Lubrano ’82, and Ryan McCombie ’70 will begin their three-year terms in July.

Everything about the election was unprecedented—the 86 candidates, the 37,579 votes cast, the hiring of KMPG to audit the results, which were announced in Friday’s Board of Trustees meeting. The university assigned PINs, allowing alumni to vote electronically, to 197,517 people, meaning that 19 percent of the eligible voters cast ballots.

Taliaferro, a lawyer and New Jersey selectman who’s best known as the football player who was paralyzed in a game against Ohio State, but beat the odds and learned to walk again, received 15,629 votes. Lubrano, a businessman who donated money for the baseball stadium, Medlar Field at Lubrano Park, received 10,096. McCombie, a businessman and retired Navy SEAL, received 4,806 votes.

Karen Peetz ’77, chair of the board, said she doesn’t anticipate any problems integrating the new alumni trustees, although emotions have run high since the Sandusky scandal, especially over Joe Paterno. She said Penn State is “extremely fortunate” that so many alums cared enough about the university to run.

The agricultural societies that elect six trustees also voted this week, with incumbent Carl Shaffer, president of the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau, and Donald Cotner ’71, president of an egg company, winning with 112 and 100 votes, respectively. Current business and industry trustees Kenneth Frazier ’75 and Edward Hintz ’59, whose terms expired in 2012, were re-elected to the board; business trustees are voted on by the board members. Gov. Tom Corbett has not yet decided on his appointees; the terms of two of his six appointees expire this year, as well.

Ryan McCombie meets alumni at an Alumni Association event in April. This photo, too, by Tina Hay.

During the meeting, Peetz noted that the board is considering changes in its structure, citing the reorganization of its standing committees in March. James Broadhurst ’65, who is chairing the governance and long-range planning committee, said the board is looking into term limits and how to better use the experience of the emeriti trustees, among other suggestions.

At this point, one of the spectators in the room asked if the board were taking questions from the public. Told that was not the case, he then said he just wanted to make a statement—that the trustees consider making it possible for students and faculty to interact directly with them.

But no aspect of the trustees has received more attention recently than the alumni vote; the Associated Press reported that it drew more attention that the Pennsylvania primary election. Eighteen other candidates received more than 1,000 votes:

Barbara L. Doran ’75: 4,040

Mark S. Connolly ’84g: 2,967

Ben Novak ’65, ’99g: 2,957

Vincent J. Tedesco Jr. ’74: 2,385

Anne Riley ’64, ’75g: 1,883

O. Richard Bundy ’93, ’96g: 1,864

John W. Diercks ’63, ’67g, ’75g: 1,761

Jayne E. Miller ’76: 1,653

Jonathan L. Wesner ’65: 1,530

George T. Henning Jr. ’63: 1,503

Joanne C. DiRinaldo ’78: 1,455

Thomas J. Sharbaugh ’73: 1,410

Darlene R. Baker ’80: 1,212

Patty Marrero ’88: 1,172

Matthew J. Lisk ’95:   1,060

Amy L. Williams ’80: 1,048

Marta Pepe Forney ’00: 1,047

William F. Oldsey ’76: 1,007

Three more alumni seats will come open next year. I’m sure I’m not alone in suspecting next year’s election will be hotly contested, too.

Lori Shontz, senior editor

May 4, 2012 at 6:14 pm 2 comments

Adam Taliaferro, 10 Years Later

Hard to believe it’s been 10 years since Adam Taliaferro’s frightful collision with Ohio State tailback Jerry Westbrooks left Taliaferro paralyzed and unlikely to walk again. The injury happened in Columbus on Sept. 23, 2000. Today’s Philadelphia Daily News has a great story about Taliaferro ’05, who made a miraculous recovery and is now an attorney in Philly. (He’s also engaged to be married, to former Penn State swimmer Erin Mulshenock ’95.) Check out the story here.

Tina Hay, editor

September 21, 2010 at 8:54 am Leave a comment

Uhhhh … Remind Me Who Joseph Garatti Was?

Fraser Street Deli menu

A section of the Fraser Street Deli menu. Click to enlarge.

I have a meeting at noon tomorrow, and they’re serving us food—a classic illustration of the “no such thing as a free lunch” concept. The good news is that we get to pick what we’re eating; we were invited to go to the online menu of the Fraser Street Deli and make our choices in advance.

Those of you who lived in State College, say, 10 years ago probably remember this same restaurant as the Stage Door Deli, with sandwiches like the Marlon Brando and the Kate Hepburn. I think the place changed hands a few years back, and the new owners have named all of their sandwiches after famous Penn Staters. There’s the George Atherton (corned beef), the Heinz Warneke (Genoa salami), the Kelly Mazzante (a veggie wrap), and the Jack Ham (ham, silly!), to name a few. Even the late radio mogul and occasional College of Communications lecturer Bob Zimmerman ’58 has a sandwich in his honor.

A sandwich named “The Ultimate Hero” honors, appropriately enough, Adam Taliaferro ’05, with a dollar of each purchase going to the Adam Taliaferro Foundation.

For a couple of the names, I had to do a quick Google search to figure out who they heck they were. You get extra-credit bonus points if you know—without looking it up—what Joseph Garatti’s Penn State-related claim to fame was.

Tina Hay, editor

May 26, 2009 at 1:13 pm Leave a comment


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