PSU alumni push for 3 trustee positions

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In internal Penn State University memos released this week, school administrators wrote they were "taking control of the narrative of our story" after the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal exploded in November. Recent developments on board of trustee elections and the new choice for football coach show not everyone agrees.

A group of Penn State alumni is trying to get new members elected to the board, saying they are outraged by the way it fired legendary football coach Joe Paterno.

The 32-member board has three seats up for election this spring, and the group -- called Penn Staters for Responsible Stewardship, or PS4RS -- is collecting names of potential trustee candidates who will pledge to bring "transparent, trustworthy and moral leadership" to the board.

The effort comes during a new wave of turmoil in the wake of 52 child sexual abuse charges filed against Mr. Sandusky and the subsequent Nov. 6 firing of Mr. Paterno and resignation of president Graham Spanier.

On Friday a group of prominent former football players, including LaVar Arrington of North Hills and Brandon Short of McKeesport, broke ties with the school after it hired New England Patriots offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien to replace Mr. Paterno over longtime defensive coordinator Tom Bradley. Also, the new university president picked by the board, Rodney Erickson, is due to address the scandal with Pittsburgh alumni in a town hall session Wednesday night at the DoubleTree by Hilton Downtown.

Mr. Erickson will follow the Pittsburgh session with others in Philadelphia and New York. PS4RS plans to be at all three sessions to recruit fellow alumni into their efforts to make changes on the board.

"There are half a million Penn State alumni. They need to sit up and take notice of who is in charge of the university and if they are running it the way everybody wants them to," said the group's spokeswoman, Maribeth Roman Schmidt.

The wording is a bit stronger on the group's website, It says: "We are Penn State alumni and friends who are outraged at the manner in which Penn State's Board of Trustees fired Head Coach Joe Paterno, a man whose name is synonymous with honor, character, and integrity, to gratify a media lynch mob. We perceive this as a contemptible display of moral cowardice and organizational groupthink that renders the existing Board unable to command the continued trust or respect of the University's stakeholders."

Two alumni members of the board of trustees, New York Times assistant managing editor David Jones and Penn State interim athletic director David Joyner, are stepping down from the board. A third alumni member, former alumni association president Anne Riley, is running for re-election.

The 2,000-member PS4RS has names of 35 trustee applicants already and plans to finish gathering others this weekend. It will then narrow its preferred list before the board opens its official nomination process on Jan. 15. The online election of the three alumni board members will be from April 10 through May 3.

Ryan Bagwell, 32 -- a Web developer from Madison, Wis., and a member of the Class of 2002 -- has also announced his reform candidacy for the board.


Tim McNulty: tmcnulty@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1581.


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