Posts tagged ‘Jesse Arnelle’

The Penn Stater Daily — March 19, 2014

Arnelle withdraws from BOT race: The Board of Trustees office posted the official bios and position statements submitted by the 31 candidates for the three alumni seats on the board on Tuesday afternoon. One prominent name is missing: Jesse Arnelle ’55, ’62g, a trustee since 1969, has withdrawn from the race. That long tenure has made Arnelle part of the establishment, but when he joined the board, it was as a force for change. Mitchell Wilston of Onward State recently recounted Arnelle’s undergraduate career as a football and basketball star—and the first black student body president at “a major white university.”  Wilston then focuses on how Arnelle advocated for civil rights on campus after graduation, including snippets from his famous speech about his “love-wait affair” with the university: “Let no one doubt that I love this Pennsylvania State University deeply, but freedom is dearer to me.” It’s a great read, and a great Penn State history lesson.

Scandal updates: The Sandusky-scandal related news continues: The top story in today’s Centre Daily Times was about a judge ruling that Penn State must release the names of some people interviewed for the Freeh report in response to a lawsuit by Victim 6, and as I was compiling this blog post, the CDT posted this story, based on emails obtained by Ryan Bagwell ’02 in a Freedom of Information Request, that Louis Freeh was chosen to lead the investigation over former Homeland Security secretary Michael Chertoff. Busy week for the CDT’s Penn State reporter, my friend Mike Dawson ’02.

Remembering Sean Smith: I’ve been catching up on podcasts this week, and walking to work yesterday I listened to this fascinating piece from On The Media about Sean Smith, a Penn State World Campus student who was killed in the 2012 attack on the American diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya. Smith, an information management specialist with the U.S. Foreign Service, was a prominent figure—a diplomat, basically—in an online game called EVE Online. Alex Goldman interviewed one of Smith’s best friends, who runs the game, and provides a fascinating profile of Smith and his corner of the Internet. Click here to listen to the podcast and here to read the transcript. It’s worth your time to learn a little about someone who’s usually, as the story puts it, referred to only as one of three other Americans who died that day with the U.S. ambassador.

March 19, 2014 at 10:41 am Leave a comment

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

March 18, 2014 at 4:58 pm 1 comment

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

March 7, 2014 at 11:56 am 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

One More Update from the BOT

You can read most of our updates from Friday’s Board of Trustees meeting on this post from Friday evening, but here are a few more for your Monday morning:

—Presidential search update: Board chair Keith Masser ’73 opened the meeting with an update on the presidential search process, which was rebooted in November. He said simply that the process is continuing and that “we are on pace to name the next president of Penn State in the months ahead.”

There is a deadline: President Rod Erickson is retiring at the end of June. Or, as he put it two Saturdays ago when a reporter at the news conference introducing James Franklin asked Erickson if he had any update on the search: “My last day of work is June 30, 2014.”

Click here for a piece by Charlie Thompson of The Patriot-News that gets a little more in-depth on the search.

—A new Joe Paterno statue: Joel Myers ‘61, ’63g, ’71g, chair of the outreach committee, didn’t have a committee meeting to report about Friday; the outreach committee meeting was off the agenda (along with the student life committee meeting) to allow enough time for a retreat with governance consultant Holly Gregory. Myers did ask if he could read a brief statement. The topic: that it is time to unite the various factions of Penn Staters.

That’s a theme Myers has sounded periodically, but this time, he quoted Abraham Lincoln (“A house divided cannot stand …”) and proposed that “now is the time” for there to be a statue of Fred Lewis Pattee and Joe Paterno to be erected in front of the library. The Centre Daily Times has full coverage with a story and text of the speech.

—BOT nominations continuing: There’s still plenty of time—until Feb. 26—for alumni to submit their nominations for one of the three alumni seats up for election in 2014. (If you’re a member of the Penn State Alumni Association or have donated to the university within the past two years, you should have received a nomination form in your email. If you’re an alum and would like to request one, click here.)

Mike Dawson ’02 of the Centre Daily Times checked in with the three incumbents—Myers, Jesse Arnelle ’55, ’62g, and Marianne Ellis Alexander ’62—during the meeting to ask whether they are running for re-election; all said they hadn’t decided yet. None of the alumni trustees who were on the board in November 2011 have been re-elected.

Lori Shontz, senior editor

January 20, 2014 at 9:07 am Leave a comment

PS4RS Sweeps Alumni Election–And Other Board of Trustees Notes

Barbara_Doran

Barbara Doran was the top vote-getter in the alumni trustees election.

Here’s the short version of Friday’s Board of Trustees meeting:

The university president and governor are no longer voting members of the board. The governance reform package passed after minimal discussion, a back-and-forth between trustee Anthony Lubrano ’82 and Stephen Dunham, vice president and general counsel, about what, exactly, would constitute a breach of fiduciary duty that could prompt the removal of a trustee. Lubrano, who did not seem satisfied with the answers, voted no.

And the three alumni trustee candidates endorsed by Penn Staters For Responsible Stewardship—Barbara Doran ’75, William Oldsey ’76, and Ted Brown ’68—dominated the election. Each of their vote totals—15,085 for Doran, 13,940 for Oldsey, and 11,403 for Brown—more than doubled the total of the fourth-place finisher, incumbent Paul Suhey 79, who had 4,521 votes.

DSC_1240_Oldsey_med

Bill Oldsey finished second.

(Penn State announced the results by candidate number, not in order of votes received, so they’re hard to read. Click here to read the results in order, courtesy of the Centre Daily Times.)

The longer version? That’s more complex, and something that’s going to play out over the coming months.

Several trustees made a point of saying that the governance package passed today isn’t the final word on reform. And the PS4RS sweep means that a growing number of people critical of how the board has handled the Sandusky scandal are now on the board itself. The board will also need to elect a new vice chair, because Stephanie Nolan Deviney ’97g was not re-elected, and the standing committee assignments could change, too.

Each of the winners, who will join the board in July, spoke afterward about issues that go beyond how Joe Paterno was treated by the university. Oldsey, who has spent his career in educational publishing, stressed that both he and Penn State were in the same business—“the business of education”—and mentioned World Campus, in particular, as an area of emphasis. Brown talked of the importance of commonwealth campuses and the need to pay faculty and staff better to recruit top talent. And Doran spoke of the need for term limits for trustees and her frustration that longtime members of the board were essentially grandfathered in on the 12-year limit.

Ted Brown finished third in the alumni election.

Ted Brown finished third in the alumni election.

All three also stressed the need to build relationships with the current board members, which they said was the best way to make change happen, and the importance of making current board members understand that PS4RS is not a fringe group.

“They’ve dismissed PS4 as this militant radical group, Franco Harris ’72 is crazy, all this kind of thing,” Doran said. “It’s much deeper than that. I’ve been on the (capital) campaign for five years; I know all sorts of donors. And when you’re running for the board and people think you have a shot at it you hear from a lot of people who feel it’s safe to speak up.”

Lubrano said afterward that the alumni trustees may begin caucusing together—and that all nine alumni trustees would be invited, although he wasn’t sure all would attend. That would include the three alumni trustees who were on the board during the Sandusky scandal, and whose terms expire in 2014: Marianne Ellis Alexander ’62; Jesse Arnelle ’55, ’62g; and Joel Myers ’61, ’63g, ’71g.

Other notes from the meeting:

—The election of agricultural trustees and selection of business and industry trustees also took place. Incumbent Keith Eckel will be joined by M. Abraham Harpster ’94, co-owner of Evergreen Farms in Spruce Creek, Pa. Karen Bretherick Peetz ’77 received another term as a business and industry trustee; she’ll be joined by Richard Dandrea ’77, a Pittsburgh attorney.

—After it became clear over the past week that the governance reforms would be voted on as a package, board chair Keith Masser ’73 received some criticism, given that he had indicated in testimony before the legislature that the reforms would be voted on individually. (He said the same to me after the March meeting.) He attempted to find a middle way during the meeting, announcing that there was a parliamentary procedure that would allow trustees to make a motion to exclude a provision from the vote. No one took advantage of it.

Masser said after the meeting that he shouldn’t have said that each change to the bylaws, standing orders, and university charter—there were dozens—would get an individual up-or-down vote. “It was impractical,” he said. “I wasn’t thinking when I made that statement. But that wasn’t really the intent of the question. The intent of the question was ‘Are you going to railroad this package through?’ That’s what I heard, and I wanted to be clear that no, we’re not railroading the package through.”

—Dunham, the university counsel, responded forcefully when questioned by Lubrano about the circumstances under which a trustee could be removed from the board. Lubrano pressed Dunham about whether the university had compared its proposed policy to those of other Big Ten universities and to define exactly what would constitute a breach of fiduciary duty.

Dunham said he thought that criticism of the provision was based on an earlier draft, which was linked to a code of conduct. “Including yourself, Trustee Lubrano, you talked about the ‘Lubrano rule,’ started talking about the code of conduct. That’s changed. This … clearly does not relate to any individual trustee, any individual.” And then, pausing after each word for emphasis, Dunham added: “It. Just. Could. Not. Be. More. Clear.”

—While the public comment section (moved to earlier in the meeting for the first time) had its usual complement of people who chastised the trustees for their response to the Sandusky scandal and/or asked for more board engagement with the public, a broader range of issues came up Friday. Prominent among them: the controversial gas pipeline to the West Campus Steam Plant, which is to be converted from a coal-burning plant.

Residents of State College protested the route for the pipeline, through a residential area, and Columbia Gas has since agreed to start over and work with Penn State to study other possible routes, including through campus. Trustee Myers commented afterward: “There is a feeling by some people in town that the university is arrogant, and I think we need to bend over backwards to articulate what we plan to do and get buy-in for these kinds of things.”

Lori Shontz, senior editor

May 3, 2013 at 9:14 pm 11 comments

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