Anthony Lubrano Pushes Back Against Governance Consultant
By now, we know that Penn State trustee Anthony Lubrano isn’t one to be shy during meetings. Today was no different, and in a special conference call meeting by the Board of Trustees Committee on Governance and Long-Range Planning, Lubrano made sure everyone knew what he thought.
The committee convened to discuss and recommend a contract for a governance consultant that will advise the board on best governance practices in the future. Trustees were given three different contracts to evaluate — including two major law firms and a professional consulting company — although the identities and specifics of each contract were kept anonymous from the public.
The short discussion, in its simplest form, is actually pretty comical. Lubrano began by saying that he opposed one particular contract because the company had previously made a remark during a conference last year about marginalizing dissenting board members. Lubrano said that he reached out to the company for an explanation but still hasn’t received a response to his concerns.
“(Vendor C) made a comment that if a member of the board disagrees with the consensus, then you should try to marginalize them,” Lubrano said. “As we sit here today, I still have not received a response to my concern. If this vendor is incapable of responding to a simple request, I have concerns that this vendor is incapable of doing their job.”
What happened as soon as Lubrano stopped talking?
“I move that we recommend the contract of (Vendor C),” said Trustee Carl Shaffer. His motion was quickly seconded with no discussion.
An understandably animated Lubrano responded.
“I don’t understand how the Board of Trustees could possible accept the notion that a consultant provides advice that we marginalize a dissenting view. It’s absolutely foreign to me,” Lubrano said. “I also have concerns about a relationship that a vendor had with a member of this committee. It’s another sad day, folks.”
Trustee Barbara Doran backed up Lubrano’s concern about a lack of response. Doran said she also requested more information from the particular vendor and received no response.
“Responsiveness is important,” Doran said. “It’s a tiny red flag, and I suspect it’s not going to change the vote. If we do vote to hire this team, I would really suggest the team to be a bit more responsive about things.”
Sure enough, in a 7-2 vote, with only Lubrano and Doran dissenting, the motion to recommend passed. It will be considered at next week’s regularly scheduled Board meeting.
“We will move along as quickly as we can to work with this consultant to develop key issues and develop what we believe will be the best governance model for our university,” committee chairman Keith Masser concluded.
Vendor C was only described to the public as a “major New York law firm with offices worldwide.”