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Trustees Expand Student Representation On Board Committees

Penn State’s Trustees decided yesterday to add two ex-officio seats to the Board’s committees so each student government’s president and vice president can have permanent representation.

The addition was pretty swift as far as governance changes go. UPUA Vice President Katie Jordan made an official proposal to the Board’s committee meeting on Governance and Long-Range Planning at the July meeting — less than three weeks ago. At the meeting, Jordan requested that the Board add one or two more student government seats so that each group will have permanent representation from both its president and vice president.

The three student governments — the University Park Undergraduate Association, the Graduate and Professional Student Association, and the Council of Commonwealth Student Governments — worked together to formulate the proposal and also with newly-elected Board chair Ira Lubert to get things rolling. The Governence and Long-Range Planning committee was initially receptive to the idea, and yesterday Lubert made the decision officially.

“This is certainly a victory for all Penn State students and will strengthen the position of students on the Board for generations to come,” said UPUA President Terry Ford. “Such a victory would not have been possible without collaboration between UPUA, CCSG, and GPSA and the genuine partnership that exists between our organizations. We thank Chair Ira Lubert and Vice Chair Mark Dambly for their consideration of our proposal and their willingness to amplify the voice of students at the highest level of university governance.”

The second part of the two-fold proposal was that the serving students will get the opportunity to decide which committee they sit on. Traditionally, the roles were set by position and whomever inherited each role took the seat on the predetermined committee. Now, the student government executives get to select which committee best serves their skills. Here’s what the current leaders chose:

Terry Ford (UPUA) — Finance and Business
Katie Jordan (UPUA VP) — Governance and Long-Range Planning
Kevin Horne (GPSA) — Legal and Compliance
Marina Cotarelo (GPSA VP) — Audit and Risk
Pavel Shusharin (CCSG) — Academic Affairs and Student Life
Shawn Lichvar (CCSG VP) — Outreach, Development, and Community Relations

The six presidents and vice presidents will be in action at the next Board meeting in September where each will sit in their respective ex-officio seats on the above committees.

This is a big step for the governments and will go a long way in both increasing the student voice in Penn State’s governance and for shared governance between the student leaders and the university ones.

“We are so pleased that the Board has committed to furthering the student voice on its committees,” said GPSA President Kevin Horne, who is also an Onward State editor. “A true university can only succeed if shared governance –­­ that is, the ability for students to have real participation in the decisions that affect their lives –­­ is accepted and celebrated. Today’s news shows that this spirit is alive and well at Penn State.”

All-in-all things couldn’t have gone better for student governments in this effort.

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About the Author

Lexi Shimkonis

Lexi is an editor-turned-staff writer who can often be found at either Irving's or the Phyrst (with the chances she'll have her backpack being the same). Lexi is a senior hailing from Spring City, PA (kind of) and studying Civil Engineering. Please email questions and/or pleas for an Instagram caption to [email protected], or for a more intimate bond, follow her on Twitter @lexshimko.

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