Penn State’s Board of Trustees met today at the Penn Stater to discuss funding from new Big Ten media contracts, the next phase of East Halls renovations, and an increase to Room & Board rates for next year.
The meeting began with a moment of silence for student Timothy Piazza, who died earlier this month from injuries sustained when he fell down the steps at Beta Theta Pi fraternity. Penn State has since revoked Beta Theta Pi’s recognition on campus and imposed strict Greek social regulations for the remainder of the semester. Administrators are working with the Interfraternity Council to decide the best course of action moving forward.
Student leaders from Penn State’s three student governments addressed the Board for the final time, as their terms will end in just a few weeks. UPUA President Terry Ford and GPSA President Kevin Horne encouraged the Board to remember why they chose to serve Penn State in the first place.
“The magic that I see everywhere else at Penn State, I’m not sure I see it and I’m not sure I feel it when I think about the University’s Board of Trustees,” Ford said. “I don’t recognize the atmosphere that this board is engulfed in, the fighting, the mistrust, the confusion, the despair. It is making us weak. It is distracting us from our core mission of teaching, research and service.”
James Franklin also spoke to the Board as a special guest, though not before a photo of football coaches in singlets to celebrate a big win for the wrestling team was shown for his introduction.
“Our success this season is your success,” Franklin said. “We’re direct reflection of everybody within this room, everyone on this campus and everyone within the state.”
He also discussed the program’s commitment to providing a holistic experience for those on the team — not just athletic support.
“I think Saquon Barkley is a perfect example of what we’re doing,” he said. “He showed up on campus and all he did was embrace everything that we asked him to do. He has over a 3.0 GPA, he is humble, hard working, he’s appreciative, and he is kind. He’s also 5’11”, 220 pounds and runs 4.3.”
President Barron unveiled his previously-classified source of $705,000 in CAPS matching funds, which will come from new Big Ten media contracts and through an endowment from corporate partner Barnes & Noble. Funds from Big Ten media contracts will also contribute to the Blue Band and the new Arts & Arboretum Complex next year. In years two through six of the contract, funds may also be available for matching innovation projects and other student success initiatives.
Executive Vice President and Provost Nick Jones told the Board of Trustees about this year’s rocky LionPATH roll-out. Penn State is responding to student concerns about the user interface and will begin beta testing a new look next month.
“That is one area where we have heard students’ concerns in particular and we are addressing them,” Jones said. He projected a sample of what the new site might look like, and we must say, it’s an immense improvement.
The Board approved the second phase of the East Halls renovation, which will provide $106 million for another new building and two more complete building renovations.The update will also update recreation areas in East and approve parking lots and sidewalks to accommodate for the new buildings and layout.
Students living on campus next year can expect a $165 increase to Room & Board charges. The Board also approved this 3.15 percent increase, reportedly due to increased capital assessment, student enrollment and beds, and typical inflation.
Athletic Director Sandy Barbour discussed Penn State’s commitment to “comprehensive excellence,” including academic accomplishment, character development, student-athlete community engagement, competitive success, and student-athlete health and welfare.
“We tell our students they can do it all at Penn State,” Barbour said, “and that’s not just student-athletes.”