Posts tagged ‘Karen Bretherick Peetz’

President-Elect Eric Barron: ‘I Have a Lot to Learn’

President-elect Eric Barron and his wife, Molly, are introduced at Monday's special Board of Trustees meeting.

President-elect Eric Barron and his wife, Molly, are introduced at Monday’s special Board of Trustees meeting.

Eric Barron spent 20 years at Penn State, a larger chunk of his professional career than he’s spent anywhere else, by a lot. He called Penn State’s current president, Rod Erickson, formerly his boss in the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences, “much more than that—he was my mentor.” He said at every job he’s held since leaving Penn State, including his current position as Florida State president, he has taken two lessons he learned here, the “push for excellence and the power of community.”

“In so many ways,” Barron said Monday afternoon, just after being appointed Penn State’s 18th president, “I never left Penn State.”

Which doesn’t mean, Barron stressed, that he knows everything there is to know about this place. He left University Park in 2006 (click here to learn about what he did during the past eight years), and he knows the campus and the entire Penn State system have changed a lot since then.

“I have a lot to learn,” he said. “I want to make sure that I take the time to learn everything that I can. I think it’s a mistake to think that just because I was here eight years ago and for a while, or that because I’m paying attention to what’s going on in the world, that I know everything and can make decisions.”

Barron gave that answer in responding to a question about how he would bridge the divide in Penn State’s community that is one of the lasting effects of the Sandusky scandal, but his need to learn was a theme he sounded throughout his brief media tour Monday afternoon, even when asked about his goals for Penn State.

“The first thing I’d like to do,” he said, “is tap each dean on the shoulder and say, ‘I’d like to spend half a day with you. Show me your physical plant. Tell me those things you brag about. Those things you struggle with.’ Because I do think it’s a mistake to sit here and say, ‘I’ve been a university president for four years and directed a national lab, I know what to do.’ It doesn’t usually work that way. (more…)

February 17, 2014 at 8:02 pm 2 comments

What’s New: Presidential Search Update

Penn State announced a significant milestone this afternoon in the search for a new university president—a group of names has been submitted to the Trustee Presidential Selection Council, which will conduct interviews with the candidates.


September 11, 2013 at 2:02 pm 1 comment

Inching Toward Changes on the Board of Trustees

About an hour and a half into a discussion of recommendations to reform the Board of Trustees, Jim Broadhurst ’65 turned to Katelyn Mullen, vice president of the University Park Undergraduate Association and the student representative on the Board of Trustees’ standing committee on governance and long-range planning.

“Katelyn,” he said, “you want to start?”

Everyone on the committee laughed—Mullen included. The item on the table: Should the governor continue to be a voting member of the board?

So, yeah, that seemed like it could be a little sensitive for anyone, let alone the student rep. It’s a touchy issue—and one of many that those demanding changes in the Board of Trustees have identified as something that needs to be addressed.

James Broadhurst (file photo)

James Broadhurst, chair of the governance committee (file photo)

But Mullen jumped right in and said she didn’t think the governor should have a vote. The rest of the committee agreed—just as it had earlier agreed that the university president should not be a voting member of the board, and just as it later agreed that a five-year waiting period before a trustee can become a university employee—or vice versa—is appropriate.

The trustees haven’t decided to make any of these changes. But the members of the governance committee did spend more than two hours weighing them Thursday afternoon, and that followed a four-hour private meeting of the entire board, which was devoted to addressing the governance reforms suggested in the Freeh report and by auditor general Jack Wagner. (A Faculty Senate report on governance isn’t finished yet, but trustees are anticipating its suggestions.)

Before that committee meeting, which was held the day before the board’s first public meeting of 2013, Broadhurst cautioned for the benefit of onlookers—mostly media, but a few interested members of the public—that the discussion was just that, a discussion, and that all initiatives would be presented to the full board as one resolution.

The plan, he said, is to identify areas of consensus, then submit a resolution with those changes to the bylaws to the full board. “We need to be very careful to not go to the board piecemeal with separate items,” said Broadhurst, who added that the committee “doesn’t know how the full board might feel.”

The governance committee is still working—monthly meetings are planned—and any potential bylaw changes need to be announced 30 days before they are voted upon. That makes the May 3 meeting the earliest possible date for a vote.

As Keith Masser ’73, the board’s new chair, said Friday in response to a reporter who wondered whether potential changes to how business and industry trustees are selected (another point of contention) would be discussed at that May meeting: “Things don’t move that fast around here.”

Trustee Joel Myers (file photo)

Governance committee member Joel Myers (file photo)

Broadhurst presented a brief report during Friday’s full board meeting, as did all of the chairs of the standing committees. But the report wasn’t particularly detailed, which is one of the reasons it’s so great that Thursday’s committee meetings are open to the public. Full board meetings always seem as though they’re planned to the second; there’s little debate or discussion, little revealing. The committee meetings, however, have proven to be more interesting.

Among the items the governance committee discussed:

—Being careful to not change just for the sake of change. Trustee Joel Myers ’61, ’63g, ’71g reminded the committee that before the Sandusky scandal broke, Penn State’s board structure had been “held up as a model, believe it or not,” in the world of governing bodies in higher education.

—Criteria for emeritus trustees. This was the second consecutive public committee meeting at which the members spent a significant amount of time discussing how to clarify the role of the emeritus trustees, which Peetz defined as primarily advisory.

—The role of the university president on the board. Everyone agreed that the president should not vote, but that she or he should still be a member of the board. (The question was raised as to whether not being a board member would turn off potential presidential candidates.) The university president should also not be the board secretary, everyone agreed, but the committee wants to talk further about who should fill that role. They want to define the role, then find the right person for it.

—The governor’s role on the board. Everyone agreed that the governor shouldn’t vote, but they are continuing to discuss whether she or he should be a non-voting member. There was some agreement that having at least a non-voting representative on the governor’s behalf is helpful, especially given Penn State’s status as a land-grant university. Broadhurst said he would like to speak with Gov. Tom Corbett about it.

—The waiting period before trustees can become university employees, and vice versa. Five years seemed to be the key number. Myers, the founder and president of Accu-Weather who also taught at Penn State for a number of years, became a trustee immediately upon retiring from the university, but said the waiting period wouldn’t have deterred him. Roger Egolf, the faculty representative and an associate professor of chemistry at Penn State Lehigh Valley, wondered if the same rules should apply, for instance, to an adjunct faculty member as a high-profile administrator. (For instance, Cynthia Baldwin 66, ’74g went immediately from trustee to the university’s legal counsel, Dave Joyner ’72, ’76g, ’81g went from trustee to the acting athletic director, and Steve Garban 59 went from the university administration to trustee.) The committee members seemed to think it was important to avoid the appearance of impropriety in every instance.

—Term limits for trustees. The discussion focused on whether the limit should be nine years or 12, with Jesse Arnelle ’55, ’62g cautioning that too much turnover could lead to “a lack of historical continuity.” Groups wanting to reform the board have maintained, however, that there’s not enough turnover. Among governance committee members, Arnelle has been on the board since 1969, Myers since 1981, and agricultural delegate Carl Shaffer since 1997. Not everyone has such a long tenure; Masser was elected as an agricultural delegate in  2008, and outgoing chair Karen Bretherick Peetz ’77 was appointed a business and industry trustee in 2010.

Stay tuned. Clearly, there’s more to come.

Lori Shontz, senior editor

January 21, 2013 at 12:10 pm 4 comments

A Flurry of News Before the Holidays

The last week before the semester break brought a surprising amount of big news about Penn State:

On Tuesday, the university announced that Karen Bretherick Peetz ’77 would not stand for re-election as the chair of the Board of Trustees; her new position as the president of BNY Mellon, she said Wednesday in a teleconference with reporters, didn’t allow enough time to serve as the chair.

In that same Wednesday teleconference, Peetz threw her support for chair to the vice chair, Keith Masser ’73, who runs Sterman Masser, a potato farm in Schuykill County; James Broadhust ’65, chair of the trustees’ governance and long-range planning committee, did the same. Perhaps the bigger surprise, though, was that Anthony Lubrano ’82, who has been an outspoken critic of the board even after being elected to an alumni seat in May, also expressed support for Masser in Thursday’s Centre Daily Times:  “It’s a logical progression for Keith Masser to be chair,” he told the newspaper.

There was no indication as to the whether there will be an additional candidate for chair or who would be running for vice chair; trustees have until Dec. 28 to decide. A more complete description of the process for the election, which will take place during the January meeting, can be found in this story from The Daily Collegian.

On Wednesday, the university announced that Board of Trustees had approved a salary increase for President Rod Erickson—from $515,000 a year to $600,000 a year, retroactive to Nov. 1. A news release from Penn State Live indicates that the raise was based on a performance review and cites study data that places Erickson’s new salary at “about the 50th percentile” of comparable university presidents and chancellors.

And on Thursday, a judge ruled that the lawsuit against Penn State filed by Mike McQueary ’97 could go forward without a resolution to the legal case against top university administrators; the university had asked for a stay. And the university also announced that it had made its first $12 million payment on the $60 million fine imposed by the NCAA. The money is being held in a money market account until a decision is reached on how the money will be distributed. At least one person, Pennsylvania Congressman Charlie Dent, is unhappy with the NCAA’s response to a request that all of the $60 million be distributed in Pennsylvania.

Lori Shontz, senior editor

December 20, 2012 at 5:55 pm 1 comment

Board of Trustees Wrap-up: A Little Bit of Everything

James Broadhurst ’65, chair of the university governance and long-range planning committee, will be part of the trustees committee that will select the new president.

Summing up a Board of Trustees meeting is never easy. I’ve covered them on and off since college, and they’re always a mix of mind-numbing reports and vital, critical information and decisions—often in the same agenda item. Since the Sandusky scandal, the meetings have been even more challenging, with more to consider and digest.

Take Friday’s meeting, for instance, which was moved from the traditional spot, the boardroom at the Nittany Lion Inn, to a larger conference room at The Penn Stater Conference Center, the better to accommodate the greater interest in such meetings since the Sandusky scandal. It had a little bit of everything. And I do mean everything.

Part of the meeting was celebratory—president Rod Erickson’s report, largely a list of achievements by Penn State students and faculty. Among them: the Dairy Judging team taking “top honors” at the Intercollegiate Dairy Cattle Judging Contest, the university being recognized as one of the top 10 producers of U.S. Fulbright Scholars, and the dedication of the new Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital, which has nifty features such as beds for parents to sleep in when they’re staying with their sick children.

Part of the meeting did, truly, look forward. Erickson announced that the Middle States Commission on Higher Education had reaffirmed Penn State’s accreditation, and the trustees approved the members of the Trustee Presidential Selection Council, which will oversee the search for Erickson’s replacement. (Keep reading for more details, and we’ll have a full report on the presidential search in our January/February issue.)

Part of the meeting hinted at the division within the university community. The trustees approved a code of conduct for intercollegiate athletics, something required by the Athletics Integrity Agreement that’s part of the NCAA sanctions, but not without discussion. Joel Myers ’61, ’63g, ’71g, who said he was in favor of the code, nonetheless wanted to “assert that nobody takes this as us approving the NCAA consent decree.” He and Anthony Lubrano ’82 wanted to add that language to the resolution, but Penn State’s vice president and general counsel, Stephen Dunham, recommended against it to eliminate any confusion and because the code itself doesn’t mention the AIA or consent decree.

“This is a Penn State document,” Dunham said. “It’s based on Penn State principles. It’s based on Penn State core values. It’s based on the Penn State mission. It is 100 percent consistent with existing Penn State intercollegiate athletics policies.”

Note, by the way, that the document must be signed by student-athletes, coaches, athletics staff, and trustees.

And part of the meeting was just flat-out angry. Eight people who registered in advance were permitted to address the board for three minutes each. Six showed up to speak, and their anger was palpable, particularly Gene Lizardi—who called himself “most ashamed of the board members who went to the university” and suggested that auditor general Jack Wagner’s report on governance reform be sent to NCAA president Mark Emmert, so “maybe he can vacate some of your seats”—and Philip Schultes ’90g, who said he was visiting guidance counselors at high schools across Pennsylvania to ask them to discourage students from applying to Penn State.

Alumna Doreen Schivley ’78 asked about documentation for the Freeh report and what was being done to find a permanent athletic director.

Others asked why David Joyner ’72, ’76g, ’81g is still the acting athletic director (Board chair Karen Bretherick Peetz ’77 said in a post-meeting news conference that he will remain in the position for the duration of Tim Curley’s contract) and to see the documentation involved in hiring Louis Freeh. Said Peetz: “There were many pointed questions—I think they are important questions—and we’re going to have to go back and do the due diligence of what paperwork was done …. So that’s a fair question.”

Important issues, all. But I’m going to spend the rest of the post on the presidential search because, as numerous people have said, choosing the next president is among the most important—if not the most important—decision the trustees will make.

The process involves three committees, two of which are directly involved and one that has a more peripheral, big-picture role.

The Blue and White Vision Council will be led by former University of Illinois president Stan Ikenberry, and it includes trustees, faculty, and alumni. (Click here for the 27-person list.) The members are looking strategically at some of the issues Penn State needs to deal with—the example everyone mentions is the role of technology in higher education, particularly online education. They’re not directly involved in the presidential search process, but they will share their findings with the two committees that are.

The University Presidential Search and Screen Committee, which has yet to be named, will start the process in the spring. This committee will consist of eight faculty members (including the chair, chair-elect, and immediate past chair of the Faculty Senate), two deans or chancellors, one member of the president’s executive staff, three students (two undergrads, one grad), the president of the Alumni Association (that’s Katie Smarilli ’71 Lib), and one university staff member. It will work to identify 10 to 15 candidates.

That list of candidates will go to the Trustee Presidential Selection Council, which was authorized Friday by the board. This is the group that will conduct interviews.

The committee is comprised of 12 trustees—Marianne Ellis Alexander ’62, James Broadhurst ’65, Mark Dambly ’80, Keith Eckel, Kenneth Frazier ’75, Edward Hintz ’59, Peter Khoury (the student trustee), Ira Lubert ’73, Keith Masser ’73, Peetz, Paul Silvis ’06g, and Linda Brodsky Strumpf  ’69. The 13th member is Peter Tombros ’64, ’68g, chair of the current capital campaign.

This process is similar to the process that Penn State used in 1994-95, when it hired Graham Spanier.

There will also likely be an executive search firm involved to help identify candidates. Peetz said Thursday during a work session of the university governance and long-range planning committee that she has already made contact with some firms. The trustees’ committee will decide whether to hire a firm—which is common when hiring a university president—and whether to engage a firm that specializes in higher education or one that has also does corporate hiring.

The timetable is based on Erickson’s desire to retire in June 2014; the idea is to have a candidate ready about six months ahead of time, giving that person time to transition. The search is expected to take about six months.

“I don’t think we’re going to have any trouble at all with fantastic candidates for the presidency of Penn State,” Peetz said. “I mean, it is one of the best institutions in the world; we’re always in the top hundred internationally, top 50 domestically. It’s a job that most anybody in academia would want.” She added that she doesn’t think the Sandusky scandal or aftermath will be a sticking point, “particularly since we’ve taken them so aggressively in terms of what the remediation is … by the time someone gets here in 2014, this will be just a distant memory.”

Lori Shontz, senior editor

November 17, 2012 at 12:12 pm 45 comments

Peetz, Erickson Address Alumni Council Again

Karen Bretherick Peetz ’77 didn’t waste any time. She didn’t beat around the bush. She stood up to speak Friday afternoon at Alumni Council, told members to “ask the questions you want to ask,” and began addressing the issues by saying: “Subject One. The Freeh Report.”

Which, of course, is one of the issues that has divided alumni the most in the past year.

The chair of the Board of Trustees hasn’t traditionally addressed Alumni Council. But this is the second straight session in which Peetz has given a report and taken questions from council members. Both times, she’s attended with President Rod Erickson, and both times, she’s said that doing so is an important part of the board’s outreach to alumni.

On Friday afternoon, she wanted to make a key point: That she understands that the recommendation to examine Penn State’s culture has been “one of the big sticking points” for some Penn Staters. But she added that the recommendation, controversial as it has been, is actually a good thing.

“I can recognize the discomfort it causes,” Peetz said. “We’ve all loved the culture. But let’s consider culture in the abstract first, and let me pose some questions. Do you, in your business, examine why your organization consistently succeeds in certain areas and maybe falls short in others? Do you ask yourself why you do or don’t retain certain types of employees? Or why everyone seemingly stays at work until midnight … or, alternatively, why you have to tread cautiously at 5 p.m. so you don’t get trampled by the mass exodus?

“These are the cultural issues of an organization. It’s the way an organization acts, and in my experience, the best of organizations have as an underpinning of the culture and their practice a process of continual improvement, which includes an examination of that very culture. As a world class institution, we need to continue to do this.”

Subject No. 2 for Peetz was whether the board understood that the Freeh report would be used by the NCAA as a justification for sanctions. She said she would not get into the NCAA’s rationale—“that’s unproductive at best, divisive at worst”—and encouraged anyone who doesn’t understand the decision to read the reasons Erickson gave for the decision and additional explanation from Gene Marsh, an NCAA expert who was retained by the university. The information is available on the Board of Trustees website in a transcript of the Aug. 16 meeting; you can get a PDF of the transcript by clicking here. Erickson’s remarks start on page 25; Marsh’s start on page 16.

She reminded everyone that “we were faced with catastrophe” and also that Erickson has called the decision the hardest he’s had to make in his entire career. “And he did not make the decision alone,” she added. “He consulted with the executive committee of the board.”

Peetz finished her prepared remarks by asking for two things from council members: their “understanding and tolerance” as the board and the university continue dealing with fallout from the scandal, and their “visible support” in continuing to “speak out for Penn State” as leaders in their communities.

When Peetz and Erickson finished speaking, there was time for a few questions. Greg Malone ’95, president of the Connecticut Valley Chapter, immediately asked the other question that has divided alumni: how and whether Joe Paterno will be recognized. He noted that the university has missed opportunities for a video tribute and for a moment of silence and added, “I believe this posture has been a real sticking point for alumni who are otherwise eager to move on.”

Erickson fielded this one.

“We’re hearing from a lot of individuals, a lot of alumni, on both sides of this issue,” he said. “And that suggests to me that there’s still a lot of divergence of opinion about what to do. I personally think that we need some more time, time for reflection. I personally think to do something right now will push us apart rather than push us together.”

Peetz added that any such commemoration would be university-driven, not trustees-driven.

Council member Liz Bligan ’91, ’98g asked another question that’s been on the minds of many alumni: “When will the Board of Trustees fight back, defend Penn State, demand due process? You have not done that, and we are anxious for you to do that.”

Peetz noted that Tim Curley ’76, ’78g and Gary Schultz ’71, ’75g will have due process; their trial is scheduled for January. “So, frankly, after all that is said and done, then we’ll have to say, ‘OK, what does that inform us about the situation, and what do we do at that point?’” Peetz said. “Who knows what will be at that point? I’m sorry I can’t give you a more definitive answer, but the answer is: There’s more to come.”

Other notes from the session:

The Blue White Vision Council, a group that will be facilitated by former University of Illinois president Stan Ikenberry and chaired by Peetz herself, is ready to begin meeting. The council, which includes faculty and students as well as trustees, will broadly examine Penn State’s mission and goals.

—Much of Erickson’s talk centered on Penn State’s enrollment. The Sandusky scandal did not have an effect on the current freshman class; Erickson said the current freshman class has about 7,700 students. But applications for next year are down between 10 and 35 percent so far, although Erickson also noted that “paid accepts” are holding pace with last year, and he assured council members that the quality of students hasn’t waned.

Some of the decline may be from the scandal, he said. But he thinks bigger changes in higher education—particularly students’ climbing debt loads and the lack of economic growth in Pennsylvania; possibly the rising application fees, which may be causing students to apply to fewer schools–might be additional causes. “We’re in a totally different era,” he said.

—Erickson also touched on fundraising. The Campaign for Penn State Students passed the $1.65 billion mark a few weeks ago, he said, and there are still 20 months remaining for the capital campaign to reach its $2 billion goal.

Lori Shontz, senior editor

October 27, 2012 at 12:05 pm 706 comments

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