Posts tagged ‘Barbara Doran’

Trustees Struggle to Find Consensus on Board Reform

Perhaps in this case, the best place to start is the end.

Two hours into the Board of Trustees’ governance and long-range planning committee meeting Thursday afternoon in Hershey, chair Keith Eckel decided the group needed another session before its next scheduled meeting in May. The board’s governance consultant, Holly Gregory, agreed and pushed for a substantial chunk of time to find some consensus on what reforms to pursue—and to understand why those reforms are needed.

“We need to drill down,” Gregory said. “I’m still really, really challenged because I need to make sure we have a sense of what we are trying to move on. And it’s difficult to come up with ideas of what we’re going to do when we don’t know what we’re trying to achieve. That was my hope. I have some sense of that on the size (of the board) issue, but we haven’t had the time to go down as deep as I’d like.”

Then she added, “I’m supposed to help facilitate. Not come up with my own reform proposal. I can easily come up with one based on what I’ve heard, but that really isn’t the task as I understand that.”

The committee members and Penn State staff pulled out their calendars and started tossing out suggestions. None worked. (Perhaps a suggestion from the media seats—why not do a Doodle poll?—would have helped.) These are busy people, people with calendars full of other board meetings, vacations, grandchildren. The upcoming celebration of Penn State’s capital campaign took up a few days, as did the ag trustees election and the counting of alumni election votes. At one point, Anthony Lubrano ’82, one of the board’s most vocal critics, even after joining it, noted a week he was unavailable, prompting Jim Broadhurst ’64, an executive committee member and former board chair who has served since 1998, to quip, “Might be a good week to have it, then.”

Everyone laughed, even Lubrano, who said, “I gave you a softball, Jim—if you couldn’t hit that one …”

Consensus was almost impossible to find. They tentatively settled on May 7, the day before the officially scheduled governance committee meeting, and according to attorney Frank Guadagnino ’78, responding to a question from Jesse Arnelle ’55, ’62g, that meeting should be open to the public.

It’s no secret, of course, that Penn State’s board is divided and that proceeding on the next part of governance reform, which involves the size and composition of the board, plus qualifications for trustees, was going to be difficult. That’s why the governance committee said it hired Gregory, to help members find the right path.

The board’s stated intent is to vote on a reform package in the fall. But the trustees entered Thursday’s meeting, their first public discussion on reform with Gregory, having not yet determined which data they needed or which universities they wanted to use as benchmarks. After a lengthy back-and-forth, that was settled. (And if they want more data, they are welcome to check out a feature from our July/August 2012 issue in which we compared the size and composition of Penn State’s board to those of other Big Ten, land-grant, and Pennsylvania universities.)

Even a potential reform that has widespread support—the addition of a permanent student trustee, necessary because there’s no guarantee of student representation, only a tradition that a student is of the six trustees appointed by the governor—required a sustained, sometimes contentious, discussion.

The issue has some urgency because the current student trustee, Peter Khoury, is graduating in May, and the board realized that unless it acts, it could be without a student representative when tuition is set at its July meeting. Eckel said Gov. Tom Corbett has assured that he will select Khoury’s successor in plenty of time to have the selection ratified by the state senate, but the committee wanted a back-up plan in case that doesn’t work.

The plan: for the committee to vote on the permanent student trustee reform immediately, but bring the item to the full board for the necessary approval only if the process in place now hasn’t moved forward by the next meeting. There’s a chance that the full board will not vote on this in May. But this action separated the student trustee from the rest of the reform package, which does not yet exist.

The student trustee position involves three changes: The size of the board would increase from 32 members to 33 (both numbers include non-voting trustees) because the governor would still have six appointments. The board itself would select the student trustee, but the University Park Undergraduate Association, the Graduate Student Association, and the Council of Commonwealth Student Governments would recommend that student. And the student trustee term would be two years, not three, to make it less likely that students would have to choose a freshman.

Barbara Doran ’75 suggested that Khoury stay on, that he could still represent student interests as an extremely recent graduate. (His term doesn’t officially expire until November; he has agreed to resign to make way for a student-chosen trustee.) The committee’s student representative, Molly Droelle, the president of CCSG, said that is unacceptable to students: “That’s a very strong point for us.”

Vice president for administration Tom Poole told the committee that the governor makes his decision after student organizations recommend one or two candidates and the state secretary of education (also a trustee) interviews the candidates. Richard Dandrea ’77 noted that the board could decide to make the student trustee position permanent but officially designate that trustee as one of the governor’s appointees.

“Not in the eyes of the students,” Droelle said. “That’s not the proposal.”

“I know that’s in the eyes of the students,” Dandrea said. “I like your vigorous advocacy. I’ll write your recommendation for law school. But I’m just saying, that’s another alternative we should consider.”

That idea was discussed but never brought forth for official consideration.

Lubrano objected to the item because it was separated from other potential reforms and because while the issue of the student trustee has been discussed generally in committee, he hadn’t seen this official proposal until the meeting. He insisted on a roll call vote, and the proposal passed 8-1, with his dissent.

“It’s imprudent to move forward with one part without talking about the whole,” he said.

Dealing with that whole, however, is proving difficult. And the proverbial devil, it became clear as the meeting progressed, is not only in the details, but in the overall philosophies of board members.

Board reform became a hot topic after the Sandusky scandal, when the board was criticized for its actions, particularly not knowing that Jerry Sandusky was under investigation before he was charged, the decision to fire Joe Paterno and how it was carried out, and the handling of the Freeh report. Alumni trustee Marianne Ellis Alexander ’62, who was on the board in 2011 and is not running for re-election, addressed that issue head-on late in Thursday’s meeting.

She referenced a  report by the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges from the late 2000s that cited Penn State’s board as a model of good governance because of the diversity of constituencies represented on the board (alumni, agriculture, business, state officials) and the diversity of ways in which they are chosen (direct election, self-selection, appointees).

“I don’t want to lose sight of that,” she said. “And also, since eight years ago … there’s been a steady evolution toward board reform that means every member of this board is more included and feels more engaged. Really, it’s been a revolution.

“And I think what we are doing here today is on a continuum. I just don’t want us to lose sight of that. Just because we had a terrible thing happen, suddenly we have this terrible system. I don’t believe that.”

Doran, a private wealth manager at Morgan Stanley who was elected by the alumni post-scandal, answered by citing the nation’s financial crisis of 2008. “Most of the banks concerned were very well run, had risk management systems, everything looked good—and then fell apart when they failed the ultimate stress test. … A stress came (to Penn State), and it hurt us. Wall Street has been undergoing massive reform. I think that’s where we are now. We need to continue to look at how to improve.”

Alexander, one of two voting members of the board with a higher education background, responded, “I don’t like the idea of Penn State being compared to those financial institutions.”

Replied Doran, “It’s out there.”

The back-and-forth called back to how Gregory began her section of the meeting, which was billed on the agenda as “facilitated discussion of governance considerations with consultant.”

She said: “We need to ask, ‘Is change likely to have a positive result on board effectiveness?’ And also, perception matters here—you govern in public, and having the support of the community is critically important. … I think we have to deal with both issues.”

Those issues have many parts. I’m planning to flesh out some of them in future posts.

Lori Shontz, senior editor

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March 7, 2014 at 11:56 am 1 comment

BOT Election: Boosting Alumni Participation

At the November meeting of the Board of Trustees’ governance and long-range planning committee, the discussion centered around how to increase participation in the alumni trustee election. At the committee meeting today, the committee made clear it wants to broaden participation even further.

The committee wants to automatically send ballots to all alumni with email addresses on file with Penn State, and it further wants to send snail-mail postcards to alumni who have only a mailing address on file. Those postcards would explain how to obtain a ballot.

In previous elections, ballots have been sent automatically only to alumni who have been members of the Penn State Alumni Association within the previous two years and alumni who donated to the university within the previous two years. Other alumni needed to request ballots.

Unlike the changes made in November, this change requires a revision of the university charter, which must be voted on by the full board. That requires a 30-day notice, so a vote will be taken at the March trustees meeting. So while this policy will not be in effect for the nomination process, which has already started, if passed it will be in place for the election, which runs April 10 through May 8.

The committee voted enthusiastically to recommend the change to the full board for a vote.

While we’re at it, this is probably a good time to define who, exactly, is an alumnus or alumna of the university—a definition that will be tweaked in the proposed charter change. Obviously anyone who’s received a degree—associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s, or doctorate—counts. But according to the charter, so do “former students … who have satisfactorily passed one semester’s or two terms’ work, or more,” in any program that requires at least two years of study.

The proposed changes would clarify that those programs requiring at least two years of study must end in a degree—basically, that people completing one of Penn State’s certificate programs are not eligible to vote.

More news from the committee meetings:

Executive committee nominations: One of the governance committee’s roles is to recommend at-large members for the board’s executive committee, and the recommendations that will be put forth Friday—if  board chair Keith Masser ’73 is re-elected—are Kathleen Casey ’88, appointed by Gov. Tom Corbett in 2013; Donald Cotner ’71, an ag trustee since 2012; and Richard Dandrea ’77, appointed as a business and industry trustee in 2013.

Those names were put forth by Masser and governance chair Keith Eckel; Masser said he chose Casey because she is vice chair of the human resources subcommittee and the compensation committee, Cotner because he is vice chair of the finance and business committee, and Dandrea because he’s a lawyer and because Ken Frazier ’73 (who has a law background) has decided to step down from the executive committee. (The board chair, board vice chair, immediate past chair, and standing committee chairs are automatically part of the executive committee.)

Barbara Doran ’75 noted that Casey is a lawyer, filling that need, and that none of the nominees were elected by alumni. She nominated Ryan McCombie ’70, who was elected by alumni in 2012. Because there were four nominees for three positions, the committee voted: Casey, Cotner, and Dandrea each received a majority of the vote; the totals were not released.

If Masser is not re-elected as chair, Eckel said, he will confer with the new chair before the governance committee puts forth nominees for the executive committee.

First compensation committee meeting: The first in-person meeting, that is. The committee, which was created at the November board meeting, did meet via conference call Saturday morning to approve compensation for new football coach James Franklin, a process that committee chair Linda Brodsky Strumpf  ’69 said was “interesting.”

Strumpf had served on the predecessor to the compensation committee, an ad-hoc group that was convened when circumstances warranted it, but this was the first time that details of the contract were reported during the process. The speed was potentially problematic—the bylaws stipulate that the committee must give three days public notice before meeting, but they were able to use the provision that if all committee members agreed to waive the three-day requirement, 24 hours notice would suffice.

The committee also approves compensation for nine other university employees (see below for the list), but that process is usually far from the spotlight. “People are really interested only in the football coach’s salary,” Strumpf said. “That’s the world we live in, I suppose.”

Under operating guidelines approved by the committee Thursday morning, the committee has responsibilities for four tiers of university officials. (Click here for the draft; see page 5 for the complete list.) The president is alone in Tier I as the only compensation the full board must approve.

The compensation committee approves compensation for five officials in Tier II—executive vice president and provost, senior vice president of finance and business, senior vice president for health affairs, senior vice president for development and alumni relations, and vice president and general counsel—and four intercollegiate athletics employees who are designated Tier IIA. That’s the athletic director, football coach, and men’s and women’s basketball coaches. For Tier II employees, the full board is informed, but does not vote.

That’s standard practice, said Jason Adwin, vice president of Sibson Consulting, who is working with the committee. “Executives govern,” he says. “Administrators manage.” And managing, he says, includes deciding on compensation.

The committee also voted to recommend to the full board that it approve an executive compensation strategy (click here for the draft) developed in consultation with Sibson; Strumpf said the hope is to vote on the strategy at the March meeting.

Sibson plans to conduct a study that’s sponsored by Penn State and will survey 60 institutions, 30 of which will be peers of Penn State, to compare how the university’s salaries, bonuses and incentives, retirement, and deferred compensation compare.  The report is expected to be ready by May, which Strumpf said is good timing because the committee will begin reviewing salary increases in August or September.

The report will not be made public, for two reasons. First, the sensitivity of salary numbers; vice president of human resources Susan Basso says a public release would deter other institutions from participating. Second, Adwin said, because institutions pay for the data.

Trustees retreat: The typical committee meetings ran on a different schedule today (and the student life and outreach committees did not meet) because of a retreat with Holly Gregory, a lawyer and consultant hired by the governance committee to facilitate discussion of further governance reforms. The first 40 minutes of the session were open to the public before the board went into executive session; I’ll have a piece on Gregory’s introduction later.

Lori Shontz, senior editor

January 16, 2014 at 6:46 pm 3 comments

Changes may be Coming to Alumni BOT Election

For years and years, the election for the alumni seats on Penn State’s Board of Trustees ran smoothly and under the radar. Then the Sandusky scandal happened, and among the many changes around Penn State came an exponential increase in interest in the election—more candidates, and more alumni interested in voting.

The election process has been confusing and sometimes frustrating for alumni, and the Board of Trustees office was at times overwhelmed with requests for ballots. Which is why vice president for administration Tom Poole, whose office handles the administration of the Board of Trustees, presented suggestions at Thursday’s governance and long-range planning committee to streamline the process and make it less confusing. The goal: To increase alumni participation in the election.

The committee discussion ranged beyond Poole’s suggestions (below) to a broader discussion of who should automatically receive ballots. Currently, ballots are automatically emailed to alumni who have been an Alumni Association member in the previous two years or who have donated to the university within the previous two years. Other alumni don’t receive a ballot automatically, but can get one by making a written request to the Board of Trustees office.

The committee discussed the feasibility of amending the board’s charter so that ballots would be automatically sent to any alumnus with an email address on file with the university. Committee chair Keith Eckel summed up the discussion: “I’m hearing a desire expressed by the committee to expand this as broadly as we can.”

Poole made three suggestions to improve the alumni trustee election:

—Automatically distribute ballots to anyone who requested a ballot the previous year. This would make the process easier not only for alumni, but also for the board office, which fielded 11,000 requests for ballots in each of the past two years.

—Better publicize and explain the election and nomination processes.

—Allow candidates to include their websites and social media links on their official profiles on the Board of Trustees website, something that hadn’t previously been permitted.

The committee didn’t need to vote on the changes, but everyone appeared to be in agreement that those improvements should go forward. The biggest discussion concerned broadening the ballot distribution to alumni who are not members of the Alumni Association, which is the group currently defined by the charter.

Frank Guadagnino ’78, an outside attorney hired by the university to consult on governance issues, said the original language in the charter likely appeared because the Alumni Association maintains the database of alumni. He said the charter could be changed, but that under the Pennsylvania Non-Profit Corporation Law, the board would need to have 10 days’ notice before a vote. While that 10-day notice is possible before the board’s next meeting in January, the nomination period for the 2014 election will have already started by then.

This prompted trustee Carl Shaffer to say, “If we can’t change the charter this year, according to all of the discussion here, then I do think we should have more discussion before we attempt to change the charter.”

Barbara Doran ’75 noted that although the nomination process starts in January, the ballots for the election aren’t distributed until April; she asked if the issue of who automatically gets ballots could be decided after the nomination process has started. Guadagnino said he believes that is possible.

One other alumni election issue came up as well: the nomination process. Doran said she has heard from alumni that needing only 50 signatures to become a candidate is too few. “Because there have been so many candidates the past two years,” she said, “it’s really hard if you want to do your due diligence to get through the candidates.”

Poole said this is another area that may need attention, but he added that changing it for 2014, when anyone planning to run for the board would have spent the past year assuming he or she needed only 50 signatures, would not be fair.

This was a particularly busy governance committee meeting—it approved a recommendation to hire Holly Gregory as a governance consultant, and there was a spirited discussion about the presidential search process. I’ll have more updates later.

Lori Shontz, senior editor

November 21, 2013 at 7:02 pm 3 comments

Board of Trustees Wrap-Up: A New Wrinkle to Public Comment

Robert Jubelirer speaks during Friday's public comment session.

Robert Jubelirer speaks during Friday’s public comment session.

For the past year, since the Board of Trustees added a public comment session to its agenda, the drill has been the same. Speakers spoke. Trustees listened. When the speakers criticized the board for its handling of the Sandusky scandal, some portion of the audience clapped or cheered.

Friday’s public comment session, however, was different.

After the second speaker—a tandem of two faculty members, Maria Truglio and Brian Curran, who said that although Penn State had suspended the $100/month surcharge for employees who didn’t get a biometric screening and fill out an online health survey, they were still concerned about what happens next—board chair Keith Masser ’73 said that David Gray, senior vice president for finance and business, would respond to the comments.

This caused a stir. Not once since the board added a public comment agenda item—up to 10 speakers, each allotted three minutes—had trustees done anything but sit and listen. Twice, however, during Friday’s meeting, Masser directed someone to respond to the comments—Gray to the professors, and governance chair Keith Eckel to former state Sen. Robert Jubelirer ’59, ’62g, who was practically shouting by the end of his three minutes, during which he accused the board of not being transparent.

Masser had indicated he was considering doing this during Thursday’s meeting of the Outreach, Development, and Community Relations Committee. (more…)

September 20, 2013 at 9:42 pm 2 comments

More on Governance Reform at Penn State

EckelIt appears, more and more, that change in the structure of the Board of Trustees will not end with the removal of the university president and governor as voting members and the other reforms enacted in May. The governance and long-range planning committee, which recommended the May changes, plans to hire a governance consultant by the board’s November meeting. This consultant would help the governance committee to determine what further changes should be referred to the entire board.

This process is moving quickly. Keith Eckel (pictured here) suggested that a consultant was needed in July—his first meeting as chair of the committee–just two months ago.

At Thursday afternoon’s committee meeting, Eckel reported that he, board chair Keith Masser ’73, and Barbara Doran ’75—a subcommittee, I’d note, that incorporates both a veteran and a new member of the board—had reviewed about a dozen possibilities and narrowed the field to four or five people. Doran said they had solicited recommendations for the position “as broadly and widely as we could.”

The idea that Penn State needs to hire another consultant to discuss governance after already receiving reports on the subject from Louis Freeh, former auditor general Jack Wagner, and Penn State’s Faculty Senate has sparked anger and some ridicule among critics of the board. But Eckel said the trustees are not looking for another informational report.

“We want a top expert in the field, but we also want a facilitator, because obviously a number of these issues don’t have unanimous agreement,” he said.

Eckel, Masser, and Doran want to get some additional information on the remaining candidates, they said, and are planning to bring the full committee together again to interview the candidates as soon as possible. Their goal is to have made a hire by the board’s November meeting. Eckel called the timetable “aggressive,” but no one at the meeting objected to it.

Eckel, who talks and explains more in committee than his predecessor, Jim Broadhurst ’65, did, also gave what seems to be his mission statement going forward:

“We can’t emphasize enough, the improvement of our governance is a work in progress,” he said. “There are a number of areas that need to be looked at, need to be reconciled.

“If you’re going to be world-class, each year you ought to have the entire board review the operations of the board and make suggestions for changes as well as committee operations. And, in fact, if we became very aggressive in that area, we might reach a point where the board agreed on an evaluation process of each other by every member of the board in order to create a more efficient process and higher-performing board members. That’s an aggressive step.

“I’m only listing these things to indicate it will be a work in process that I don’t believe is ever completed. But our goal is to have the best governance for this university.”

Other notes from Thursday’s governance committee meeting:

—More information on the formation of a separate compensation committee, including bylaws changes, was given by Susan Basso, vice president for human resources, and Frank Guadagnino ’78, an outside attorney from Reed Smith hired by Penn State for his expertise on governance issues. This committee would help to determine salaries for several tiers of university officials, ranging from the president (its primary purpose) down through top vice presidents, the athletic director, and even some highly paid coaches.

The discussion expanded into Penn State’s structure, in which Basso reports to David Gray, senior vice president for business and finance. Doran asked how this lines up with recommendations in the Freeh report and best practices at other universities.

Making human resources a separate department reporting directly to the president is a Freeh report recommendation that Penn State has decided to not follow, partly because this would give the president of the university another direct report in a time when he has many obligations, and partly because that’s not how most other universities do it. (Sen. George Mitchell, who is assessing Penn State’s compliance with the Freeh report as part of the NCAA-mandated Athletics Integrity Agreement, has signed off on Penn State’s decision.) Guadagnino also said only one or two other universities have the structure outlined in the Freeh report.

Doran said she found the Big Ten’s practices, which are consistent with Penn State’s interesting, saying, “It seems that modern governance is evolving away from” having HR and finance in one department.

Marianne Ellis Alexander ’62 voiced a sentiment that I’ve heard often around campus, but not at trustees meetings: “Freeh was using a corporate standard to apply to higher education. We are going with the best practices of higher education, and there’s definitely a different model. We chose to go with the higher ed model.”

—The committee also engaged in an interesting discussion about how trustees should conduct themselves in public forums, particularly if they disagree with the position the board or university has taken as a whole. Anthony Lubrano ’82, of course, was the focal point of the discussion, which was nuanced and thought-provoking. I’ll delve into that in a later post.

Lori Shontz, senior editor

September 20, 2013 at 9:09 am 4 comments

Emeritus Trustees Become Point of Contention

It’s certainly not news that Penn State’s Board of Trustees has some divisions:

—In the past two alumni trustee elections, candidates upset with the board’s handling of the Sandusky scandal—and particularly its treatment of Joe Paterno—won election by large margins.

—Friday’s election for vice chair won’t be a formality, because there are two candidates, Ryan McCombie ’70 and Paul Silvis ’06g. Although it’s not unprecedented to have an actual vote, it is rare. (And there were three candidates until Linda Brodsky Strumpf ’69 withdrew Thursday morning.)

—Five of the trustees have joined the Paterno family, former Penn State football coaches and players, and Penn State faculty in a lawsuit against the NCAA.

But for a vivid example of the division—and the emotion involved—look no further than the governance and long-range planning committee’s discussion Thursday afternoon at Penn State Fayette about whether to recommend two former trustees for emeritus status.

The background: Emeritus status is granted to former trustees who have “served as a board member for 12 years or more with distinction,” according to the board’s standing orders (click here for a PDF; scroll down to page 11 for the specific criteria considered). Making clear the role of emeritus trustees and deciding upon more specific criteria has come up in discussions about governance reform, but the issue hasn’t really been discussed deeply.

On Thursday afternoon, for the first time since the scandal, the governance committee considered recommending former trustees for emeritus status. Keith Eckel, the new chair of the committee, put forth the names of the two alumni trustees who left the board in June 2012: David Jones ’54, who decided to not run for reelection, and Anne Riley ’64, ’75g, who was defeated. Both had been on the board since 1997.

Immediately, alumni trustee Anthony Lubrano ’82 spoke up.

“These two may well be qualified to receive that status from this board,” he said. “But I think we would be sending the wrong message to our community if we granted them the status today when we haven’t yet decided what status we give to Joe Paterno, who gave 61 years of exemplary service.”

Barbara Doran ’75, who just joined the board after becoming the top vote-getter in the most recent alumni trustee election, immediately backed him up. “I think it’s a legitimate issue because of where the alumni are,” she said. “One issue is how Joe Paterno has been treated. I know the board has said at some point in time it’s going to honor Joe Paterno, but that time is not here yet. So I think this timing on this … the time now is not ideal in terms of alumni feeling about this.”

The first voice for the opposing view was another alumni trustee, Marianne Ellis Alexander ’62, who has been on the board since 2005: “I think it would be unfair to hold these two people hostage. … We’re talking about status for people who have served on the Board of Trustees; this is a very narrow subject that we’re talking about. In the case of these individuals, they’ve done exactly what I think would qualify them to be an emeritus trustee. Quite frankly, I think we need their help out there … for example, as ambassadors for the good of the university. I think they should be recognized. This is a separate issue from the former issue.”

The discussion continued in the same vein for about 15 minutes and included a heated exchange between Lubrano and board chair Keith Masser ’73 over the procedure used in May to vote on the governance reforms. Lubrano accused Masser of going back on his pledge to vote on each individual reform separately; Masser said he had provided an opportunity to do so via a procedural move to save time and added, angrily, “I fulfilled my word!”

Another new trustee, business and industry appointee Richard Dandrea ’77, said he agreed with Alexander. “There’s no reason to obstruct the recognition of these individuals because, Anthony, of your desire to see the recognition move at a different pace than apparently the board has decided to go.”

Also weighing in was Bill Oldsey ’76, another newly elected alumni trustee, who is not a member of the committee but was sitting at the end of the meeting table. It’s not unusual for trustees from other committees to sit in on discussions, but they generally sit in the area provided for the public to observe, as McCombie was doing during this discussion.

Oldsey said he doesn’t know Jones, but that he knows Riley well. “Anne will never stop being an ambassador for Penn State, whether she’s granted emeritus status or not,” he said. “She’s one of the truest Penn Staters. I may not agree with every decision she’s made, but she’s an extraordinary Penn Stater. I don’t think you can take that out of Anne Riley. It’s just part of her DNA.

“Many times in business, you have to hold off on one decision to leverage what is perhaps a more important decision. This is the way things happen sometimes. The phrase holding hostage, I’m not sure is completely apropos here. I do think some of us have an extraordinarily good radar right now for how the alumni base will react to certain things. You may believe it or choose not to believe it. That’s up to you. But the alumni base may not respond particularly well. We have to decide as a board whether we care or not.”

After a little more back-and-forth about the qualifications for and duties of  an emeritus trustee, Oldsey’s statement prompted Jim Broadhurst ’65, the former committee chair, to weigh in on behalf of Riley:

“I hate to do this,” he began. “But you can’t know her that well in that you don’t know how important this distinction is to her. I have never, in my many years on the board, ever seen anyone up for this status that was so anticipating that occurring in her life.” Broadhurst turned to address Oldsey directly. “You ought to go talk to her about it, see how important it is to her. It’s extremely important.”

Broadhurst talked a bit about how the role of an emeritus trustee has changed; they are less involved than they were in the past, and the board is still considering exactly what the emeritus trustees’ role will be in the future. He talked about what Riley has done for Penn State, how she teaches classes and has been helping oversee the restoration of the Land Grant Frescos in Old Main. He pointed out that in the past, trustees qualified for emeritus status received it within months—at the meeting after their final board meeting—but that the current contenders had been on hold for a year.

“I think to hold this up would be a travesty,” he concluded. “As much respect as I have for Joe and everyone else … I feel sorry for the alumni that would be disappointed in this action, I really do.”

The committee then voted on whether to recommend Riley to be named emerita trustee. Lubrano voted no loudly and said he would like his vote “absolutely recorded.” Doran voted no as well, but she did so silently, by raising her hand, and Tom Poole ’84g, the board’s secretary, made sure to clarify what the final vote was. It was 5-2.

The committee next considered Jones, and while the discussion was shorter and less passionate, it followed the same basic framework. The vote was the same, too: 5-2 in favor of recommending emeritus status for Jones. Among its other business Friday—including approving a tuition increase and electing a vice chair—the full board will vote on the recommendations.

Lori Shontz, senior editor

July 12, 2013 at 7:03 am 17 comments

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