Yudichak: Penn State Trustees May Have Broken Law with Recommendation

State Sen. John Yudichak, a Penn State graduate who represents Luzerne and Carbon counties, says a Penn State Board of Trustees committee may have violated a state law by recommending board reform.

Yudichak said in a prepared statement Thursday that the Governance and Long-Range Planning Committee’s approval of board reform may have been illegal.

“The Board of Trustees at Penn State is neither above the law nor should it be engaged in efforts to further separate itself from core constituencies like the alumni and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania,” says Yudichak. “I will be making sure that the General Assembly explores all legal and legislative avenues to ensure that the interests of Penn State and the Penn State community are protected.”

With a 7-to-1 vote, the committee approved the following changes:

– Adding a trustee who represents the Penn State Alumni Association

– Adding a student-elected trustee to represent the student body

– Adding a trustee elected by the faculty senate

– Adding three at-large board members appointed by the full board

– Reducing the number of trustees required to be alumni from three to six for both the governor appointed trustees and business and industry trustees

– Eliminating voting rights from the state secretaries of agriculture, education and conservation and natural resources

The board’s size would increase from 32 to 38 members with 33 having voting rights.

The measure, which is considered by much of the committee to be a compromise resolution, will go before the full board in November.

“I am concerned that this committee violated state law by taking this action. The public members of the Board of Trustees and the voting privileges they have are decided by statute, not by a committee of non-lawmakers,” says Yudichak. “Penn State University, after all, remains as the commonwealth’s only land-grant university. This is a world-class institution and it deserves a world-class governing structure in the best interests of all.”

The committee likely felt pressure to act as in June the Pennsylvania Senate’s State Government Committee voted 11-to-0 for Senate Bill 1240, the Penn State University Board of Trustees Reorganization Act, which would reduce the board of trustees from 30 to 23 voting members.

Yudichak drafted the bill.

Penn State spokesperson Lisa Powers said the university does not have a comment on Yudichak’s statement.

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