In December Karen Peetz stepped down from her chairmanship of the Penn State Board of Trustees and expressed her intention to leave the board, then, last week, John Surma decided that he would bail out in June. Both stated increased business commitments as the reason for their voluntary departures. Peetz is President of BNY Mellon Bank and Surma is chairman and chief executive officer of United States Steel, so both have unassailable excuses to fall back on.
Now, Trustee Alvin Clemens comes along and declares that the BoT should have another look at the Freeh report. Another? Did they ever look at it in the first place? Clemens uses the word “reexamine.” Same thing. To reexamine something, one would have had to examine it at some point.
I imagine that some trustees took the matter seriously enough to read the Freeh report on their own, but I doubt that anyone read all 267 pages of it. The board never considered it as an agenda item for the record, so the proper conclusion is that the report was never read and digested by the inner circle on the board, the vaunted Executive Committee. Peetz and Surma are both members of that inner circle, as is Rod Erickson. Clemens, although a governor-appointed trustee, is not. This is a digression, but I’m want to continue to assert the point that the board blindly accepted the Freeh report, and the Executive Committee is the power center of the board.
Can we expect to see more polarization of the BoT? I believe that we will. Two rats hopping off the ship while one trustee expresses misgivings about the Freeh report in the wake of the Sollers report is just the beginning. Suddenly, the board of trustees takes on a different complexion. The purge could be on. At least we hope it has started.
Read a brief story about Clemens’ statement in Onward State. Thanks, Joe.