PS4RS Endorses One Of Its Own for Trustee Seat
Penn Staters for Responsible Stewardship, the advocacy organization that has acted as kingmaker in the last two Board of Trustees alumni elections, announced its slate of endorsed candidates today. As expected, trustees Anthony Lubrano and Ryan McCombie, whose terms are up this year, will both seek a second term with PS4RS support. The third PS4RS candidate, who will run for Adam Taliaferro’s open spot on the board, is Harrisburg-based attorney and 1991 graduate Robert Tribeck.
In my opinion, the optics of this seem questionable.
I’ve never met Tribeck, but his credentials are certainly as impressive as any. He’s a longtime attorney and was the Editor-in-Chief of the Ohio Northern University Law Review. He’s active in his community at home and regularly attends Trustee meetings here in State College (perhaps more than some of the trustees already on the board). There are just two catches: He’s PS4RS’s ad hoc legal counsel and committee co-chair, and this was the first year PS4RS selected its candidates in a closed process. Essentially, PS4RS picked someone deeply involved in its organization in a closed door process which included only current alumni trustees and the PS4RS Board of Directors. For an organization that touts transparency as one of its key issues, this whole thing strikes me as odd.
I asked PS4RS spokeswoman Maribeth Schmidt about the change in process this year (previously, interested candidates applied for the endorsement, a committee of various stakeholders cut the list down to six, and the PS4RS membership voted in an online primary to select the candidates).
“We were only looking to fill the slot of one additional endorsement this time around,” Schmidt said, citing the work Lubrano and McCombie have done in their two-and-a-half years on the Board. “Our feeling was that we wanted to get the endorsement process completed as efficiently and as quickly as we could so that we could support the slate over a longer period of time than we’ve been able to do in the past.”
I also asked Schmidt about the optics of endorsing someone who has worked so closely with PS4RS over the years without the input of the entire membership (Tribek wrote the PS4RS Freeh Report Analysis and co-chaired the PS4RS Legal and Regulatory Task Force).
“I’d hardly say that he came out of the shadows,” Schmidt said. “I don’t think Rob running comes as a surprise to many people at all. We wanted to know who the alumni trustees could work best with.”
Anyway, I have nothing against Tribeck and he seems very qualified (you can follow him on Twitter here and his platform statement is below) but I do have some reservations about the way this process ended up. Last year, PS4RS candidates swept the field by a minimum 2,400 vote margin. Despite the small sample size, the PS4RS endorsement is crucially important to success in the alumni election, which will begin on April 10.