Today at 5 p.m. the Penn State board of trustees will convene via telephone to ratify the July 23 consent decree between Penn State and the NCAA. The board hastily called this meeting on short notice at another meeting last Tuesday that in itself might have been illegal under the Pennsylvania Sunshine Act because it was conducted privately and without notice to the public.
Nice background for an important meeting, eh? Our BOT chairwoman, Karen Peetz,wants to put all matters Sandusky behind us and focus like a laser on the future. Well, the BOT seems to be a few photons short of a coherent light beam, if you ask this Turkey, himself an amateur quantum metaphorist. There is little concern by the majority of the board that the NCAA rushed to judgment, Erickson rushed to sign a pre-emptive consent agreement under a direct threat of multi-year shutdown of the football program, and that the board has not done so much as examine the Freeh report, upon which the NCAA has based its sanctions against Penn State, before seeking closure on this matter.
Obviously, many alumni are disgruntled, as are their representatives on the BOT. However, as commenter BigAl pointed out, the trustees elected by the alumni wield little power on the board, to wit:
I’m not sure the majority is all that docile, it’s just that approximately 10 trustees have taken over the board. And they run things by using Politburo rules and sticking together like the “popular kids” in a junior high school student government.
Review of the Board of Trustees’ committee structure makes it obvious that the alumni elected trustees (and by extension the alumni themselves) have virtually no power because the board agenda is controlled by the trustees selected by the business societies with some assistance from the trustees from the agricultural societies.
Every BOT member has a least one committee assignment but the alumni trustees are packed into the least important committees like Outreach, Development, and Community Relations and Academic Affairs and Student Life.
In contrast, the business trustees dominate the committees that hold the real power like the Executive Committee, and the committees on Governance and Long Range Planning, Legal and Compliance, Audit and Risk, and Finance, Business and Capital Planning.
The business trustees’ stranglehold over the Executive Committee is particularly flagrant. All 6 business trustees serve on this 11 person committee and compared to only 1 (Marianne Alexander) of the 8 alumni trustees.
The business trustees also constitute the largest presence on the Audit (3 of the 7 committee members), Finance (3 of 8), Governance (3 of 10), and Legal (3 of 9) Committees. The alumni trustee presence on the Audit (1 of 7), Finance (0 of 8), Governance (2 of 10), and Legal (1 of 9) is obviously less. And the disenfranchisement of alumni trustees is more obvious when one considers that there are 8 alumni trustees compared to 6 business trustees.
Also, if you look at each trustee’s committee assignments , it becomes apparent that the trustees are not equal in power and influence. Only 2 of the 8 alumni trustees appear on more than one important committee – Marianne Alexander and Stephanie Devinney. Based on committee assignments, the other power players on the BOT are Alvin Clemens, Mark Dambly, Keith Eckel, Ira Lubert, Keith Masser, Karen Peetz, Linda Strumpf and John Surma.
I believe that nothing is going to change with Penn State’s incompetent, unresponsive BOT until most of the 10 power players named above are replaced. Unfortunately, only Alexander (term expires 2014) and Devinney (expires 2013) can be removed through the alumni vote. Anybody have any suggestions/ideas for removing the others??
Just to make life more difficult, the governor and his appointees are solidly in favor of burying the matter for good, no doubt for politically expedient reasons.
However, two directors have been active in attempting to sway the rest of the board to slow down: Joel N. Myers and Ryan J. McCombie. Both have written letters to the board that are worth reading. If you have any interest in this matter at all, you will read them. These men are not crackpots or gadflies. Myers is chairman and CEO of AccuWeather, which he founded. McCombie is a retired Navy SEAL.
Another worthwhile read is the editorial written by Joel Myers’ son Dan Myers, who is the president and publisher of StateCollege.com. There are plenty of juicy tidbits in it beyond telling the board to reject the consent decree, including some good links to collateral documents.
I also want to go a bit off-topic (but this is Sudden Impact) in order to point you toward a look inside The Second Mile, the children charity founded by Jerry Sandusky, written by Sara Ganim, the Pulitzer Prize winning reporter for the Patriot-News. Among other things of which I was unaware, Ganim writes that a “team of officers from the FBI, the U.S. attorney’s office and U.S. Postal Inspection Service are searching records and interviewing people.” I didn’t even know that The Second Mile was under investigation.
I’ve given you enough preparatory reading for today, so that’s it for another issue of Sudden Impact, where we hit you right between the eyes with our .44 magnum detritus.
Thanks for highlighting my comments. The alumni need to know just how little their input and representatives matter to the current BOT and any publicity that drives this fact home is welcomed.
Re the meeting. We know what’s going to happen: the consent decree will be ratified. The only question is whether the “popular kids” allow a full and honest discussion on why ratifying the consent decree is a better course of action than filing an appeal.
I predict that they don’t allow any discussion at all and immediately force an up or down vote. So the meeting will be over in less than 20 minutes.
Maybe we should start a pool on the number of trustees that will be allowed to speak. My guess is 3: Erickson, Peetz, and Frasier.
The Nittany Turkey says
Ah, but they threw us a curve, if the Lubrano post is legit. So, they won’t be voting this afternoon because of a “technical legal issue”. Looks like it might even hold my interest, although watching the Olympics closing ceremony with The Who and The Spice Girls might be more entertaining.