Posts tagged ‘Board of Trustees election’

Official Bios and Positions for BOT Candidates Available

The official biographies and position statements provided by alumni candidates for the Board of Trustees are now available on the board’s website.

There’s one notable name who’s out of the running—Jesse Arnelle ’55, ’62g, who has served on the board since 1969, notified the board office that he has withdrawn from the field. Arnelle’s name still appears on the ballot to keep the ballot numbers of the other candidates consistent, the board office staff said. But voters will be unable to vote for him. When the the electronic ballots are issued April 10, there will be no box to check next to his name.

That leaves 31 candidates in the running for three alumni seats. 

Lori Shontz, senior editor

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March 18, 2014 at 4:58 pm 1 comment

BOT Election Ballot Released

Thirty-two alumni are vying for the three open alumni seats on the Board of Trustees this year, showing that interest in the election, which skyrocketed after the Sandusky scandal, remains high. The number of candidates is a slight decrease from 2013, when there were 39, and that in turn was a large decrease from 2012, when there were 86.

The 32 candidates for 2014 include two of the three incumbents, four people who are running for the third consecutive time, and four others who are running for the second time since 2012.

You can see the entire list by clicking here. The list shows the order candidates will appear on the ballot, which was determined Friday afternoon in a blind drawing at the Nittany Lion Inn.

Incumbents Jesse Arnelle ’55, ’62g, who has served on the board since 1969, and Joel Myers ’61, ’63g, ’71g, who was first elected in 1981, are running again; Marianne Ellis Alexander ’62, who has served two terms starting in 2005, is not.

Running for the third time are Ryan Bagwell ’02; Robert Bowsher ’86; Rudy Glocker ’91, ’93g; and Amy Williams ’80. Two-time candidates are Joshua Fulmer ’01; Robert Hooper ’79; Robert Jubelier ’59, ’62g; and Ted Sebastianelli ’69.

For the third consecutive year, the Alumni Association and The Penn Stater magazine will be organizing a voters’ guide for the election, our “Three Questions for the Candidates” project. We’ll be asking questions of candidates in March—the emails will go out March 7—and the website will go live on or before Thursday, April 3. Voting begins a week later, on Thursday, April 10, and continues through May 8. If you’d like to see what we’ve done in the past, click here for the 2012 responses and here for the 2013 responses.

Lori Shontz, senior editor

February 28, 2014 at 5:34 pm 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

The Penn Stater Daily—Jan. 15, 2014

We’re a little late today, sorry. Lots of meetings. Productive meetings, fortunately, but they took a lot of time. Anyway, here are some good stories you might have missed over the past few days:

BOT nominations open: It’s that time of year again, with preparations beginning to elect three alumni  members to the Board of Trustees. If you’re a Penn State Alumni Association member, if you’ve donated to the university within the past two years, and/or if you requested a ballot in either of the past two years, you should be receiving today a nomination ballot for the election. You can nominate up to three candidates. If you don’t submit them right away, you can return and add names to your list; once you submit, you’re finished. Here’s our earlier piece on the process, which has instructions on how to request a ballot if you didn’t get one, and here’s today’s Centre Daily Times story on the election. Which, by the way, will run April 10 to May 8. The nomination period ends Feb. 25.

A new book on the murder at Pattee: Forty-four years after Betsy Aardsma was stabbed in the stacks at Pattee, her case is still open—that is, never solved. Journalist David DeKok is researching a book on the subject to be published in September, and he answered questions from Onward State’s Jessica Tully. It’s a fascinating interview, especially when DeKok goes beyond the case and discusses how he researched it.

Looking to lose weight? If your New Year’s resolution to do so is becoming a struggle, you might want to check out the Volumetrics diet, developed by Barbara Rolls, professor of nutritional sciences and Helen A. Guthrie Chair in Nutrition. It was just named the sixth best diet in U.S. News and World Report‘s 2014 Best Diets Overall Ranking, and it was recognized several other times in the magazine’s report. The main idea: By lowering the calorie density of your meals, you can feel more full but consume fewer calories. Rolls has written several books—with recipes—on the diet.

New pricing structure for football tickets: Starting next season, it will cost less to see the non-marquee teams on Penn State’s football schedule than it will to see top rivals like Ohio State. The university announced a variable pricing structure on Tuesday; this FAQ from the athletic department explains the details. The Nittany Lions will become the fifth Big Ten school to use such a system, The Patriot-News reports. Cheapest tickets? MAC teams Akron and UMass: There are end-zone seats available for $40. You’re going to need to shell out for the Buckeyes: The least expensive ticket is $100.

Lori Shontz, senior editor

January 15, 2014 at 4:28 pm Leave a comment

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


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