Posts tagged ‘Ira Lubert’
For the second year in a row, candidates endorsed by Penn Staters for Responsible Stewardship swept the three seats in the Board of Trustees alumni election. When the new trustees take their seats in July, none of the nine alumni trustees who were on the board when the Sandusky scandal broke—and when Joe Paterno and Graham Spanier were fired—will remain.
Alice Pope ’79, ’83g, ’86g, a psychology professor at St. John’s University, finished first with 10,025 votes; Albert Lord ’67, former chairman and CEO of Sallie Mae, finished second with 9,516 votes; and Robert Jubelirer ’59, ’62g, an attorney and former state senator, finished third with 8,101 votes.
“We do have nine new people in three years, and I think that should put to rest the idea that the concerned alumni are a vocal minority,” Pope said. “The Alumni Association survey showed that the alumni who are concerned about the leadership of this university are not a minority. So now it’s really time for us to be taken seriously and to work together in a very genuine way. It is over the time to be saying ‘us’ against ‘them.’ That time is gone. We must do whatever it takes to bridge that divide.”
A divide does exist. Jubelirer, who said he was involved in about a dozen elections as a politician, said this campaign was both the most difficult—because of its length and structure, and the importance of social media—and the nastiest in which he was involved. “People can say whatever they want,” he said. “My whole personal life was laid out on Facebook. … There’s a handful of people who made it that way. I want to make that clear. Not everybody’s nasty.”
Board turnover isn’t limited to the alumni trustees. Two new gubernatorial trustees, Cliff Benson ’71 and Todd Rucci ’92, were confirmed by the state legislature April 9 and took their seats at this meeting, replacing Ira Lubert ’73 and Al Clemens ’59. Business and industry trustees Linda Brodsky Strumpf ’69 and Jim Broadhurst ’65 stepped down; they’ll be replaced by Daniel Mead ’75, ’77g, president and CEO of Verizon Wireless, and Walter Rakowich ’79, retired CEO of Prologis.
Pope, Jubelirer, and Lord (who did not attend the meeting) were endorsed by PS4RS, which has criticized the board for its firing of Paterno and Spanier, its acceptance of the Freeh report, which they say led to NCAA sanctions, and the board’s unwillingness to keep pushing to find the truth of what happened in the Sandusky scandal. But Pope and Jubelirer say they also bring additional qualities to the board.
Jubelirer says he has “relationships in Harrisburg that I think will benefit the university,” and Pope, as a college professor, says her understanding of higher education is particularly important on a board that has far more trustees with corporate backgrounds than higher ed backgrounds.
“The business of education is not like other business,” she said. “The products are not the same. Yes, corporate models have some place in universities, but the educational mission has to be put first and foremost.”
The PS4RS candidates won their seats handily. The fourth-place finisher, Ted Sebastianelli ’68, was 2,400 votes behind. The only incumbent running, Joel Myers ’61, ’63g, ’71g, finished seventh with 3,511 votes. The other two incumbents, Marianne Ellis Alexander ’62 and Jesse Arnelle ’55, ’62g, decided to not run for re-election. Arnelle served as a trustee for 45 years; he was first elected in 1969.
Overall, voter turnout was down, with 29,791 ballots cast. More than 33,000 alumni voted in 2013, which was in turn down from more than 37,500 in 2012, immediately after the Sandusky scandal.
Other notes from Friday’s meeting:
—Agricultural trustees Keith Masser ’73 and Betsy Huber were re-elected, but trustee M. Abraham Harpster ’94 said that a candidate had complained about voting irregularities in one county. He added that election officials had not been able to confirm this, and so the election results stood.
—The resolution to add a permanent student trustee—selected by students—was withdrawn because governance chair Keith Eckel said Gov. Tom Corbett will appoint a student to replace Peter Khoury ’12, who is graduating with a master’s degree this weekend, before the board votes on tuition in July. Should the appointment not materialize, the board will call a special meeting to assure there is a student on the board for the tuition vote. The possibility of a permanent seat for a student will be considered with the rest of the governance reforms, not separately.
—Speaking of governance reform, Eckel said that consultant Holly Gregory has a sense of the issues that trustees want to address after Wednesday’s small-group sessions of the governance committee, which were not open to the public. He hopes to present the full board with recommendations at its July meeting, making it possible to vote on the package at the September meeting. This will likely involve an interim committee meeting between now and then, and trustees have said that will be an open meeting.
—In his final presentation to the board, retiring president Rod Erickson gave updated application numbers: As of May 5, Penn State had received more than 81,000 undergraduate applications, 14 percent higher than 2013 and 5 percent higher than 2012. Including grad school, law school, and medical school applications, Penn State has received more than 120,000 applications, 600 more than in 2013 and 1,200 more than in 2012.
Lori Shontz, senior editor
For the second day in a row, I find myself wrapping up the Board of Trustees meeting by starting at the end.
Just as board chair Keith Masser ’73 was preparing to adjourn the Friday’s meeting, Al Clemens ’59 jumped in to read a statement. He got right to the point, announcing that he was resigning from the board.
Clemens, a gubernatorial appointee, joined the board in 1995 and was the only one of the four trustees remaining as plaintiffs in the Paterno family’s lawsuit against the NCAA who was on the board when the Sandusky scandal broke. As a result, he is the only one of the trustees who was found to have standing to sue on the claim of defamation.
He said the board didn’t have much information or time to discuss the issues when it voted quickly on Nov. 9, 2011, to fire Joe Paterno: “I will always regret that my name is attached to that rush to injustice.”
He indicated, as well, that hiring Louis Freeh and accepting his conclusions “without review” was another mistake and that he joined the Paterno family’s lawsuit in an attempt to “reverse the misguided sanctions that were designed to punish a football program without blemish.”
He also said his resignation was in keeping with his belief in term limits; the current limit is 12 years, but members including Clemens were grandfathered in when that change was made. He has served for 19 years.
Clemens’ term on the board actually expired in 2012, according to the trustees’ website; staff from the trustees office said that there’s often a long lag between when a governor-appointed trustee’s term expires and when the governor nominates a replacement. Gov. Tom Corbett announced in late February that he was nominating Cliff Benson ’71 and Todd Rucci ’92 to fill the seats of Clemens and Ira Lubert ’73. Those nominations must still be confirmed by the state senate.
Lubert’s term technically ended in 2013, as did the term of vice chair Paul Silvis ’06g, for whom a replacement has not been announced. The terms of two other governor appointees, student Peter Khoury and Mark Dambly ’80, expire in 2014.
Also noteworthy from the meeting:
Alumni election changes pass: All alumni who have email addresses on file with the university will receive ballots in the upcoming alumni trustee election. Trustees unanimously passed a motion to change the procedure in the university’s charter; previously, only alumni who are Alumni Association members or have donated to the university in the past two years automatically received ballots, although any alum could request one.
After the issue was debated and unanimously passed in the January governance committee meeting, Penn State sent postcards to 186,610 alumni without email addresses on file, governance chair Keith Eckel said Thursday during the committee meeting. The cost: $82,000.
Eckel said Thursday that only 400 of the cards had been returned and noted that while he thought reaching out to alumni was the right thing to do, the “somewhat disappointing” rate of return meant that the gesture likely doesn’t need to be repeated. At Friday’s meeting, he said he’d been told that the number of returned postcards had increased to 700.
The alumni election starts April 10, and alumni still have time to return the cards. All of these changes are taking place after the nomination process for alumni trustees, which ran from mid-January to late February. In the future, all alums with email addresses on file will receive both a nomination form and an election ballot.
Public comment: After several meetings in which the number of speakers during the public comment session shrunk, nine speakers were announced for Friday’s meeting, although only seven showed up to speak. Also in contrast to recent meetings, when speakers covered a variety of issues, most criticized how the board has handled to the Sandusky scandal.
Ceil Massella, an alumna and wife of football letterman Brian, told the board, “Just as I always think of the shooting when think of Kent State, this university will always be associated with Sandusky’s guilt unless the record is set straight.”
Evan Smith ’11 asked the board, “What are you personally doing with your position of power to help serve the Penn State family? How are you helping us fight this battle of public perception?”
Several speakers also reiterated their belief that the board owes an apology to the family of Joe Paterno.
Facts and figures: President Rod Erickson said applications for 2014-15 baccalaureate admission have increased by 9,000 over last year—19 percent at University Park and 8 percent at the commonwealth campuses. Out-of-state applications are up 26 percent, and international applications are up 18 percent. Minority applications he said, are running 16 percent of last year.
He also said that the quality of applicants is higher: Their average SAT score is 20 percent greater than last year’s.
Lori Shontz, senior editor
Another record: THON 2014 wrapped up Sunday with $13,343,517.33 raised in the fight against pediatric cancer. There’s lots of great coverage today, including photos, video, and stories at Onward State and the Collegian, but our friends at the College of Communications shared a unique collection of images you might’ve missed: a collection of Instagram images (like the one above), taken by student journalists, of THON dancers, support staff, and families. The theme: “Who do you dance for?” Very cool stuff.
What a finish: David Taylor and Ed Ruth will go down as two of the best wrestlers in Penn Stater history. Our in-house wrasslin’ expert, Lori Shontz ’91, ’13g, was at Rec Hall Sunday to watch Taylor and Ruth in their final home matches in a dual meet against Clarion. How’d they do? Let’s just say both guys barely broke a sweat. Our editor, Tina Hay ’83, posted some great photos at that link, as well.
Board bets: Gov. Tom Corbett has nominated a pair of alumni to fill the Board of Trustees posts currently held by Ira Lubert ’73 and Alvin Clemens ’59. The nominees are Cliff Benson ’71, an executive with the NHL’s Buffalo Sabres who was instrumental in securing the nine-figure gift from Terry Pegula ’73 that allowed for the creation of Division I hockey at Penn State; and Todd Rucci ’92, a football letterman and former director of the Pennsylvania Lottery.
‘Eers to Scrap: Tom Bradley will be back on the sidelines this fall. A longtime member of Joe Paterno’s staff, Bradley ’78 was hired by West Virginia on Friday to be the Mountaineers’ senior associate head coach. Bradley, who had worked as a radio analyst the past two years, served as the Nittany Lions’ interim head coach for the final four games of the 2011 season.
Ryan Jones, senior editor
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
First impressions won’t help Bill O’Brien win a single football game — not directly, anyway — but Penn State’s 15th head football coach knew there was much more at stake Saturday morning. In his introduction as the Nittany Lions’ new coach, O’Brien looked and sounded like a man who understood those stakes. He also didn’t look the least bit intimidated.
Greeting a packed Nittany Lion Inn ballroom with the words “This is unbelievable,” O’Brien came off intense, confident, and fully aware of what he’s gotten himself into. With his wife, Colleen, and the younger of his two sons sitting in the front row and roughly 100 media members crammed in behind them, O’Brien offered a statement and took questions. He covered a lot of ground. Among the highlights:
—He acknowledged the unrest regarding the coaching search among fans and former players, reading from a letter he’d written in which he asked for the chance to earn Penn Staters’ respect: “There is so much pride in Penn State, and we will never take that for granted, ever.” (It’s worth noting that LaVar Arrington and Brandon Short, former players who were most critical of the search that led to O’Brien’s hiring, have begun walking back their comments, and the Football Letterman’s Club on Saturday released a letter welcoming O’Brien and pledging support.)
—He spoke of growing up admiring Penn State’s program and image, and Joe Paterno in particular. Of his fellow Brown alum, O’Brien said, “I can’t wait to meet him at some point.”
—He said he planned to complete his coaching staff in the next “two or three days,” and while not ruling out any other members of the current staff, announced that Nittany Lion defensive line coach and ace recruiter Larry Johnson Sr. will be retained. (Longtime defensive coordinator Tom Bradley released a statement Saturday all but confirming his time at the program has come to an end.)
—He spoke briefly of his football philosophy, promising a “game-plan offense” — a phrase that immediately had the message boards buzzing, and which seems to imply innovation and adaptability to what opposing defenses present — and a continuation of Penn State’s reputation for dominant defenses.
There’s much, much more, and if you missed it, you can watch O’Brien’s press conference — including introductory remarks from University president Rod Erickson and acting athletic director Dave Joyner — in its entirety on BTN.com. I imagine we’ll be writing about Coach O’Brien once or twice in the coming days and weeks as well.
Ryan Jones, senior editor
The only thing we know is that we don’t know anything.
That’s been the smart observer’s mantra regarding Penn State’s search for a new head football coach, a title Tom Bradley ’78, ’86g has held on an interim basis for more than a month. Bradley coached the Nittany Lions in their final three regular season games, and is expected to coach the team at least through its appearance in the TicketCity Bowl on Jan. 2. Beyond that? Virtually no one seems to know anything. Since late November, when the University announced the formation of a search committee to find Joe Paterno’s replacement, the rumors have been torrential—and the actual news non-existent.
Acting athletic director David Joyner ’72, ’76g heads the search committee, and he’s said little publicly about the search. The rare exceptions have been shooting down rumors of interviews or pending hires when asked about them by reporters, or the couple of video Q&As he’s done on GoPSUSports.com. The second of those was posted Thursday, and you can see it below.
The emotions of those following the search range from curious to increasingly panic stricken—one recent post on a Penn State football message board was dedicated to counting the days fans have been “held hostage” waiting for a new coach. In the video, Joyner is asked, essentially, what’s taking so long. His response? “We’re about exactly where I wanted to be at this point in time. We may be conducting our search a little different than other people; not saying they’re not, but we’re being very methodical and precise about what we’re doing and who we’re talking to.”
Joyner also says “We don’t have a lack of people to look at,” and indeed, the list of coaches who, without any confirmation, have been connected to the Penn State job is lengthy. Blue White Illustrated maintains a “hot board” (subscription required) of potential candidates, and essentially every Penn State and national college football writer has dedicated column inches to the speculation. Thursday brought what might’ve been the steadiest stream of rumors that the job had in fact been filled; the fact that the Wikipedia entry for Boise State coach Chris Petersen was briefly tweaked to claim he’d been hired by Penn State only added to the lunacy.
What seems clear is that Joyner and the rest of the committee are focused less on soothing the curiosity (or panic) of fans than they are making the right hire. When, and how, that happens remains anyone’s guess, but we’ll end with one fact we find instructive: The more informed media speculation has focused on Joyner and fellow committee member Ira Lubert ’73 as the key figures in this search. That matters (or seems to) because Joyner and Lubert—former Nittany Lion wrestling teammates—are widely credited with convincing Cael Sanderson to leave his alma mater and take over the Penn State wrestling program. Sanderson, of course, is the biggest name in collegiate wrestling, and he led the Lions to a national title last spring.
Is there a comparable hire for the Penn State football job? Probably not. But there is a right one, and in Joyner and Lubert, there’s a precedent for finding it.
Ryan Jones, senior editor