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New Penn State Governance Consultant Named

The Penn State Board of Trustees committee that last week decided on a governance consultant has finally announced the consultant’s identity.

Holly Gregory of Weil, Gotshal and Manges LLP, a law firm based in New York City, is the governance consultant the Committee on Governance and Long-Range Planning will be recommending for approval from the full board Friday. The committee voted last Friday to recommend her with a 7-2 vote, with committee members Anthony Lubrano and Barbara Doran voting against.

Lubrano was the most vocal dissenting vote, saying that he disagreed with a comment he heard Gregory make about marginalizing dissenting members of the board. Lubrano said he asked the company to explain that comment and never received a response as of last Friday.

Committee Chair Keith Eckel tried to clear up the comment, putting it in context.

“In August 2012, Ms. Gregory made a presentation to the board on board effectiveness,” Eckel says. “To the extend that Ms. Gregory made that reference, I understood her to be speaking hypothetically and generically and not with specific reference to Penn State or the board.”

Eckel says when he checked with the firm, they said his recollection of the remark was correct, and that Gregory was not advocating for marginalization.

Gregory has also worked with Eckel before, but that they did not have a very close working relationship. Eckel says he did reveal this to the committee.

Another issue talked about at the meeting was the legislation that was introduced yesterday by state Sen. John Yudichak to reduce board membership by seven members. Trustees Eckel and Paul Silvis say they met with Yudichak personally to talk about possible governance changes.

“The changes we make in governance will be with us 25 years or longer so we want to get it right,” Silvis says. “I was generally pleased with many things in the bill”

Yudichak wants to reduce the size of the board to 23 members. Yudichak (D), who represents Luzerne, Carbon and Monroe counties, says that reducing the board’s size will be better for the university.

Trustee Anthony Lubrano brought up at the very end of the meeting modifying the Presidential Selection Council to involve more trustees in the decision on who will next be Penn State’s president.

“I think we want a unanimous vote,” Lubrano says.

Some trustees disagreed with Lubrano.

Trustee Richard Dandrea says he trusts in the current process of how the new president is being searched for.

“The board has had issues with maintaining some sense of confidential information,” Dandrea says. “It’s a problem with our board. It’s a reason why we can’t have the full board engaged to interview three finalists.”

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