Board of Trustees to Vote on Structural Changes
The Penn State Board of Trustees Committee on Governance and Long-Range Planning met this afternoon and recommended a slew of changes to the university charter, bylaws, and standing orders, in what was described as the “most comprehensive change” made to organizational documents in Penn State’s history.
Part of those changes includes removing the Pennsylvania governor and Penn State president as voting members of the board, bringing the total number of voting trustees from 32 down to 30.
“This was made after consulting with both President Erickson and the governor,” committee chairman James Broadhurst said. “Both support this change.”
One other notable change included extending the waiting period for all university employees to run for the Board of Trustees from three years to five years to avoid a conflict of interest. Some have dubbed this change the “Jay Paterno rule” as it will add two more years before the former coach would have a chance to run for the board (despite the fact that he has never spoken publicly about any interest in doing so).
Other changes include term limits for committee chairs (five years), removing the university President as the ex-officio secretary of the board, reducing the number of trustees on standing committees from six to five, changing the quorum requirement from 13 to a majority and clarifying the removal process for board members.
“This is the most comprehensive review and change to the organizational document than I’ve found in the historical record,” said Penn State outside counsel Frank Guadagnino.
Two points were raised during discussion about additional changes that could be made. Trustee Joel Myers asked about codifying a permanent student trustee, which he said was “something we can take up over the next year.”
Trustee Jesse Arnelle also recommended looking to redefine the role of the emeriti trustee, which will likely be discussed in the coming year as well.
“They’re very important former trustees who should have some voice at some level and participate in some way that’s meaningful,” said Arnelle. “I don’t think we’ve come to grips with that yet.”
Trustee Keith Eckel emphasized that the recommended changes did not mean that the job of reform was finished.
“We are moving ahead with a significant change today. I think it needs to be emphasized that this is a work in progress,” said Eckel. “It should be recognized that this isn’t once and done – there will be consistent work on improving our governance, not in the motivation that is needs to be done now but it needs to be right for Penn State.”
It should be noted that after the recommendations passed, trustee Anthony Lubrano poked his head in the room for a split second and gave the thumbs up sign.
Tom Poole was also recommended to become the board secretary, currently filled by the university president, and Janine Andrew was recommended to become the new associate secretary, currently filled by Paula Ammerman who is retiring in July.
These changes will be voted on by the full board at tomorrow’s meeting, which begins at 1:30 p.m. at the Penn Stater Hotel & Conference Center.