Thirty-nine candidates will compete for three open alumni seats on Penn State University's trustees board, a field larger than usual but less than half the total last year in the immediate aftermath of the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal.
Having met qualifications that included securing 50 nominations, the candidates will face online balloting that is set to run from April 10 through 9 a.m. May 2, officials announced today.
The normally obscure yearly election attracted six candidates in 2010, the year before the arrest of Sandusky, a retired assistant football coach, led to the ouster of university leaders.
Sandusky is serving a 30- to 60 year prison sentence for sexually assaulting 10 boys over a decade, including some on Penn State's campus.
Alumni anger over the board's response to the scandal -- in particular its firing of football head coach Joe Paterno -- fueled calls for the board's removal and a surge in interest in running for spots on the 32-member panel, which includes nine trustee seats.
In 2012, 86 candidates competed. Officials said then they could not recall a larger field for an alumni election.
Penn State this afternoon listed the 39 candidates on its website following a random drawing today in the Penn State Conference Center to determine each candidate's position on the ballot.
Paula R. Ammerman, director of the board office, who conducted the drawing, said in a statement released by the university that ballots for the trustee election will be available online to alumni April 10.
Penn State also intends to post biographical information and position statements for the contenders by March 18 on a meet-the-candidates page.
The Penn State Alumni Association plans to invite candidates to take part in a voluntary "Three Questions for the Candidates" session. The answers will be posted beginning April 4, Penn State officials said.
Trustee seats are for three-year terms. Each year, three of the nine alumni seats become open for election.
Two incumbents -- Stephanie Nolan Deviney, an attorney, and Paul Suhey, an orthopedic surgeon -- are running, according to the Penn State trustees office.
Asked for comment about the size of this year's field, Ms. Ammerman said while the total is smaller than last year, it suggests "there still is a heightened level of interest" in university governance. "We encourage all of our alumni to remain active (and) engaged," she said.
An alumni group, Penn Staters for Responsible Stewardship, or PS4RS, said 31 of the 39 candidates are seeking the organization's endorsement. The group said it will use a formal vetting process to narrow the 31 individuals to six, and then hold an online primary among its 15,000 members to determine the final three candidates that receive the group's endorsement.
"Naturally, the two incumbents know better than to ask for our endorsement, unless it comes with a full apology and complete plan to redress their actions and inactions of the past 16 months," said PS4RS spokeswoman Maribeth Roman Schmidt.
Bill Schackner: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-1977.