Posts tagged ‘Tom Poole’

As Bill O’Brien Might Say, “Next Man Up.”

One year ago, almost to the day, dozens of media members sat in the Beaver Stadium press room listening to Bill O’Brien explain—and, to an extent, defend—his interest in NFL jobs before finally reconfirming his commitment to Penn State. As I wrote at the time, O’Brien “hasn’t—and at this point, clearly won’t—put an end date on that commitment.”


On Thursday, Athletic Director Dave Joyner ’72, ’76g sat in front of a slightly smaller group of media to confirm that O’Brien was resigning his post to take the same position with the NFL’s Houston Texans. You can read the university’s official statement on the search for O’Brien’s replacement here, but here’s the takeaway:

* A national search for O’Brien’s successor is already underway. The six-person search committee is led by Joyner and includes VP of administration Tom Poole ’84g, associate AD Charmelle Green, recreation, park and tourism management professor and faculty athletics representative Linda Caldwell, men’s soccer coach Bob Warming, and Football Letterman’s Club director Wally Richardson ’96, ’03g.

* Long-time defensive line coach Larry Johnson, now the only holdover from Joe Paterno’s staff, is leading the program on an interim basis.

* Emphasizing that he hopes for a quick resolution to the search, Joyner said the “atmosphere of this search is very different, much more attractive” than the drawn-out process that led to O’Brien’s hiring two years ago. “We were very deliberate then,” Joyner said. “We’re going to be deliberate this time, but much faster.”

* Joyner said Penn State has already been contacted by potential candidates or their representatives. “We have a tremendous amount of interest in this position,” he said, adding that there would be no official comment on potential candidates during the search process.

* Of O’Brien, Joyner was consistently complimentary. “I want to emphasize how happy we are for Coach O’Brien and this tremendous opportunity for him, and that we’re extremely grateful for the past two years,” Joyner said. He said he believed O’Brien came to Penn State with plans for a longer tenure—”We always worked on the future … things we could do to improve our program”—and that the coach “always had Penn State’s bests interests at heart.” Ultimately, Joyner said that while he believed Penn State made “every effort to make it attractive for him to stay … I believe he was presented with an opportunity that, for his family and his future, he just could not pass up.”

* Asked if he was hoping to find a coach who was likely to stick around beyond two seasons, Joyner said, “I think that’ll be very important. Consistency is important.”

* Joyner said that while a Penn State connection isn’t a prerequisite, it’s a factor the search committee would consider.

Here’s to a quick, thorough, and successful search.

Ryan Jones, senior editor

January 2, 2014 at 6:27 pm 1 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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