Alumni Trustees Rightfully Lambaste Absent Board Majority
Penn State’s leadership undertook another exercise in futility at the Board of Trustees’ special meeting today, and most of it didn’t even show up!
Only nine of 32 trustees attended the board’s meeting at the Penn Stater that was meant to discuss enjoining Penn State as a plaintiff in Sen. Jake Corman’s lawsuit against the NCAA. Because no quorum was present, no vote was taken on Lubrano’s resolution to enjoin.
Instead, the eight alumni trustees (Trustee Bill Oldsey attended over the phone due to a hip replacement) used the opportunity to rightly excoriate the majority of the board’s apathy and absence for more than an hour. State Sen. John Yudichak was also present over the telephone, and student trustee Allie Goldstein attended but did not speak, still displaying more leadership than most of her colleagues.
When the alumni trustees called for the special meeting last week, Chairman Keith Masser responded with concern about their “single-minded focus” and encouraged other trustees not to attend. Those actions ignited much of the alumni trustees’ angst.
“We knew we were going to lose [the vote],” Trustee Bob Jubelirer said. “The least they could do is come here.”
Yudichak, who has been engaged in the board’s reform process, took part in the Masser-bashing, too: “I applaud the trustees who initiated today’s meeting for the purpose of passing a resolution that would make Penn State a plaintiff,” he said. “Regrettably, as a result of Masser’s unprecedented move, no vote can be taken on this important matter.”
“This is truly a sad day in Penn State history,” Lubrano said.
It should indeed stand as a sad day in any institution’s history when more than half of its leaders, all appointed or elected by some constituency, choose to simply not do their jobs under the guise that doing so would “deflect attention from a wide range of university issues,” in Masser’s words.
It’s not only flatly wrong that meeting about an impending lawsuit in which your university is involved is somehow detrimental toward its greater success, it’s hypocritical — during the last meeting, Keith Eckel said he needed an executive session to decide his vote on the matter, but didn’t show up to today’s meeting. For God’s sake, the trustees could meet to vote on the next Creamery ice cream flavor, and uniform absence is still embarrassing — they could just call in, vote no, and continue doing whatever it is that they care about more than serving Penn State. We can assume that the trustees didn’t even watch the meeting’s live stream, since they didn’t arrange for one and an alumnus had to provide it.
“We’re tired of being portrayed as people who are single-minded who don’t have the best interests of the university at heart,” Oldsey said. “You can disagree with us if you like, but I want people to stop suggesting that we are not doing our job toward the effective government of Penn State.”
No matter your stance on where Penn State should stand in the Corman suit, you’d be hard-pressed to find fault in Oldsey’s request, particularly when those criticizing him don’t care enough to do it to his face. The old guard’s refusal to even examine its past actions is truly disheartening.
After the meeting, Masser released a statement consummately tone-deaf toward the situation in which his alma mater is embroiled.
It seems the hundreds of millions the Sandusky scandal has cost Penn State does not have a dramatic effect on us students. OK.
It’s a helpless feeling to know that only a board minority and some state government officials are willing to discuss Penn State’s standing as it awaits January’s trial, isn’t it? The consent decree that condemned the culture of the university we love is going to the courtroom in January, and by their boycott of today’s meeting, it’s only feasible to conclude that the majority of the trustees simply do not care.
“It doesn’t really matter if they’re here physically or not,” Trustee Al Lord said. “We’ll get as much done at this board meeting as we would at any other meeting.” Par for the course.
The board’s next meeting is January 15-16. Let’s see who shows up.
Photo: Andy Colwell