Lawmaker proposes revamping Penn State board

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- State Rep. Scott Conklin wants to restructure Penn State University's board of trustees, and he wants the legislation he's introducing to be enacted by the end of 2013.

"I believe the time is right now," said Mr. Conklin, D-Centre County, he said. "I don't believe we can wait and allow this to fester for a couple of years."

He spoke Tuesday from his office in State College, along with Penn State trustee Anthony Lubrano, saying the preliminary draft of his proposed legislation had bipartisan co-sponsorship from 18 House members. Mr. Conklin's legislation, which he said he seeks to introduce when the House session begins in January, will be split into four bills.

The first bill would include Penn State and the other state-affiliated universities (Pittsburgh, Temple and Lincoln) under the Right To Know Act. The second bill would place Penn State under the Public Official and Employee Ethics Act.

The other two bills deal with the board of trustees. The proposed changes, which Mr. Conklin said do not deviate from those outlined by state Auditor General Jack Wagner's recent report, include reducing the number of trustees from 32 to 22, of whom 21 would be voting members. It also would prohibit the university president and governor from voting, and would prevent those who have held high state offices from serving on the board of trustees for at least four years after their term.

Mr. Wagner's report compared Penn State's board to those at other Big Ten universities and other comparably sized universities and found that they had between 11 and 12 members.

Mr. Lubrano said he thought that having fewer trustees would mean greater engagement. He said he supports the proposed legislation, adding that he only spoke for himself.

"There is really no reason for us to wait, no reason for us to engage yet another consultant, which is what you're going to hear them propose," Mr. Lubrano said of the board. "It makes no sense. We spend money like it's going out of style on consultants. And frankly, we already know what needs to be done."

Penn State spokesman David La Torre said Monday that the university welcomed the input from Mr. Conklin.

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Mark Dent:, Twitter @mdent05.


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