Penn State will make public some compensation decisions

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- The Penn State Board of Trustees has decided salaries set for top university executives by its compensation committee will be released to the public. But when they'll be released is still unknown.

Amid suggestions for further reform to the board of trustees from recently hired consultant Holly Gregory on Thursday, the board finalized operating guidelines for its compensation committee.

The six-person committee will suggest the university president's compensation package, which will require board approval. For nine senior-level employees below the president, such as the football coach or the vice president and provost, the committee will be able to set and approve compensation packages.

Salaries for those senior-level employees below the president -- but likely not entire compensation packages -- will be released publicly, said Linda B. Strumpf, committee chairwoman. It is still unclear when it will happen.

New football coach James Franklin's compensation package was released Saturday, hours after the compensation committee approved it. Ms. Strumpf said a decision had not been made regarding when salaries would be released for other senior-level employees because they have not presented that particular issue before the board.

Penn State might release salaries of current senior-level employees that would fall under the committee's purview in October, when salary increases are decided, Ms. Strumpf said.

The trustees also authorized the compensation committee to complete a study of peer institutions in which it will survey the compensation packages of senior-level positions.

"That will be a tool to help inform the board's compensation committee to make sure compensation is reasonable within our peer groups," said Susan Basso, vice president for human resources.

The compensation committee has been one of several reforms to the board since the Sandusky scandal and Freeh Report. More big-picture reforms could be coming, possibly regarding board size, composition and trustee selection method.

"Significant changes in corporate governance are necessary to signal to constituents that change is at hand," Ms. Gregory said Thursday afternoon in a speech to trustees.

Ms. Gregory, a lawyer who said she specializes in work with for-profit and nonprofit boards, didn't delve into specific details. She mainly described her philosophy and how she would be working with the trustees in the coming weeks or months.

Unity was one of the topics she stressed. Ms. Gregory called for a willingness to strive for consensus and advised that when it couldn't be reached, trustees debate only in the "boardroom" rather than in public.


Mark Dent: mdent@post-gazette.com, 412-439-3791 or on Twitter @mdent05.

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