Posts tagged ‘Stephanie Deviney’

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

An Emotional Meeting of the Board of Trustees

Ken Frazier, shown in this file photo, was one of the main speakers at Friday's Board of Trustees meeting.

Ken Frazier, shown in this file photo, was one of the main speakers at Friday’s Board of Trustees meeting.

For more than two and a half hours, everyone fidgeted in their seats, and the tension built. The Board of Trustees meeting plodded along. Through a long informational report on the Penn State Hershey Medical Center. Through a time-lapse video of the Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital construction. Through a PowerPoint presentation about residence halls, one that touched on room and board fees.

The time scheduled for public comment, 3:45 p.m, came and went. Media checked their watches. Alumni speculated on Twitter about the board’s motive for dragging out the proceedings for so long.

And then, finally, what everyone was expecting—waiting for, really—happened.

Trustee Ken Frazier ’75, chair of the board task force that commissioned the Freeh report, defended Louis Freeh’s investigation in a full, public board meeting—and trustee Anthony Lubrano ’82, elected to the board 10 months ago because of alumni anger over the Sandusky scandal and how Joe Paterno was treated by the trustees, questioned the report’s validity.

Minutes later, during the public comment portion, five football lettermen, each wearing a sticker proclaiming himself “Member of the GRAND EXPERIMENT,” suggested that the trustees were driven by a hidden agenda, that they had failed in their leadership role, that they had opened the door to NCAA sanctions, that they had fractured the university community.

“The good news here,” said Mark Battaglia ’82, a center on the 1982 national championship team, “is that we’re losing. We didn’t lose. We’re losing badly. We need to change the strategy. You guys can do that. There’s still time.”

It was a moment that had been building, really, since the scandal broke 16 months ago, even before the Freeh report was released in July. Alumni anger intensified with the Freeh report, and then the release of the Paterno report last month seemed to mark another milestone. After more than a year of near-silence about the situation on Twitter, Jay Paterno ’91 and Scott Paterno ’97 began engaging with followers. More lettermen organized.

And Lubrano pushed his case harder Friday in the board’s public meeting.

First, Keith Eckel, chair of the legal and compliance committee, invited Frazier to “remind us what the thought process was surrounding the Freeh report.” Frazier largely repeated his defense of the report from Thursday’s separate committee meeting (the Centre Daily Times has a good summary here), although he did apologize for making an O.J. Simpson analogy: He had referred to Bill Cluck ’82, who had questioned him, as “one of the few people in this country that looks like you who actually believes the O.J. Simpson not guilty verdict was correct.”

On the Freeh report, Frazier said in part: “The facts are the facts. And the contemporaneous emails and other documentation are among the most important evidence produced. … The documents appear to show, in varying degrees, by date and by individual, that people who were in a position to protect kids did not do so.” And he reiterated his desire to not re-examine the Freeh report because that would be “rewriting history.”

Anthony Lubrano, seen in this file photo, questioned the validity of the Freeh report.

Anthony Lubrano, seen in this file photo, questioned the validity of the Freeh report.

Which prompted this response from Lubrano, who wants Louis Freeh and Dick Thornburgh, the former U.S. attorney general and Pennsylvania governor who wrote part of the Paterno family’s report, to meet with the board: “I understand that Ken says he doesn’t want to rewrite history. But I’m not sure history was correct.”

Loud applause.

“This isn’t grandstanding,” Lubrano added. “This is a serious matter. This is a very, very serious matter. Like the rest of you, I love this institution. What I understand in dealing with the alumni community is this very simple fact: They too love Penn State. And they don’t feel that due process and truth was something we had here.”

That was the crux of the discussion between the two men. Among the other points they touched on was whether the engagement letter promising that Freeh investigators would turn over evidence to the state attorney general was irregular; Lubrano questioned it, but Frazier said such a clause is standard procedure when an investigation overlaps in time with an ongoing criminal investigation.

And then former football player Adam Taliaferro ’05, who has rarely spoken in full board meetings since he was elected 10 months ago, chimed in:

“I’ve been an active listener since I joined the board,” he said. “As you can see, we’ve got very smart people on this board and very different positions on the hows and whys. We all know what the ‘what’ is. I do believe that bringing in people and asking the hows and whys would help us, I think, move forward. I think we all want to move forward. For me, I know it would help me better understand each side. Because I come here with my own preconceived notions. It’s hard for me not to.”

This prompted Alvin Clemens ’59 to speak: “The problem here is there’s a bit of divide between the alumni and the board. We all won’t be on board until we somehow smoke this out.” He said he wanted to know why NCAA president Mark Emmert has repeatedly mentioned the 1998 incident, which was investigated by the authorities, and why state authorities weren’t monitoring Jerry Sandusky after that 1998 investigation, although no charges were filed.

At this point, 29 minutes after the legal committee report began with Frazier’s Freeh report explanation, Jim Broadhurst ’65 suggested that it was time to move on to the next item on the committee’s agenda. Many of the public in attendance booed, but the board did move on.

So what’s next? Will Freeh and/or Thornburgh be invited to address the board? Will the discussion continue?

Board chair Keith Masser ’73 said afterward that the way to bring any such item to the full board is to go through the appropriate committee—in this case, legal and compliance—and ask the committee chair to have the committee vote. (That’s what the governance and long-range planning committee did during its Thursday meeting with the changes to the board structure. But that’s a subject for an upcoming blog post.) He and vice chair Stephanie Deviney ’97g said they would assure that that would follow up with the appropriate chair, Eckel.

I feel like I end a lot of scandal- and trustees-related posts like this, but it’s always appropriate: Stay tuned.

Lori Shontz, senior editor

March 15, 2013 at 9:58 pm 127 comments

A Postscript from the Board of Trustees Meeting

There’s an interesting subplot to this year’s alumni Board of Trustees election—among the three seats coming open is that of Stephanie Nolan Deviney ’07 JD Law, who was just elected vice chair of the board at last week’s January meeting. Deviney is running for re-election, but if she loses, the board will need to elect a new vice chair at its July meeting.

The election, Deviney said at a news conference after last Friday’s Board of Trustees meeting, had nothing to do with her decision to run for vice chair.

“Stepping up was the best way for me to serve the university,” she said. “Obviously, it’s an election process. I’ve said it before—this great election process allowed me to be here and to be on this board. And I will accept whatever the will of the alumni is. It’s their voice and it’s their vote, and obviously, if I’m not re-elected, then they’ll be looking for a new vice chair in July.

“Until June 30th, I’m intending to put my full force and energy into the best job I can do to make Penn State a better place. Better than it is already.”

Nominations for the three open alumni seats opened earlier this month and will continue until 5 p.m. Monday, Feb. 25. Voting begins April 10; winners will be announced at the May 3 meeting. For more information, including how to receive a nomination form or ballot, click here.

Last year’s election attracted a record 86 candidates, including only one of the three incumbents, Anne Riley ’64, ’75 MA Lib, who lost. Of the three seats open this year, one is held by Deviney, who joined the board in 2010; one is held by Paul Suhey ’79 Lib, who’s been on the board since 1998; and the other has been vacant since Steve Garban ’59 Bus resigned in July.

Lori Shontz, senior editor
 

 

 

January 22, 2013 at 6:21 pm 1 comment


Follow The Penn Stater on Twitter

Enter your email address to follow us and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 505 other followers


%d bloggers like this: