UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- At an open forum about the Penn State University Board of Trustees in which topics ranging from transparency to board size to emphasis on a scholarly community -- rather than a "global corporation" -- were discussed, State College residents and state Rep. Scott Conklin called for the board to consider more drastic overhauls.
Five trustees were present at the meeting: chairman Keith Masser, vice chair Paul Silvis, Abe Harpster, Anthony Lubrano and Ted Brown. They joined Mr. Conklin, D-Centre, and former state auditor general Jack Wagner, who wrote a report calling for a Board of Trustees overhaul last year.
While the Board of Trustees has passed recent overhauls -- such as making the governor and president nonvoting members and instituting a longer waiting period for university employees to become trustees -- many members of the public, Mr. Wagner, Mr. Conklin and Mr. Lubrano stressed the need to push further, especially with regards to transparency. Ideas such as instituting stricter term limits, releasing the results of trustee votes, eliminating the university president from the board entirely and keeping a closer watch on conflicts of interest were suggested.
Toward the end of the forum, Mr. Silvis said the board was insistent on moving forward and that the comments he, Mr. Masser and trustee Keith Eckel made Tuesday about the Freeh report on the Jerry Sandusky child abuse scandal may have been overly emphasized by the media, but otherwise the conversation was largely focused on topics related to the bills proposed by Mr. Conklin. The representative is seeking to apply Right To Know laws to Penn State and the three other state-related institutions, including University of Pittsburgh, as well as to reduce the number of trustees on Penn State's board.
Mr. Conklin said his fellow representatives haven't warmed to the bill despite his attempts to push it through, and he wanted the Penn State board members to consider greater change on their own. "For us to move forward, it's going to have be this Board of Trustees," he said. "... My fear is that if we don't move soon, this window is going to close."
Mark Dent: email@example.com, 412-439-3791 and Twitter @mdent05.