Eliminate Some Memberships on Penn State Board

Pennsylvania’s governor and Penn State’s president should not serve as voting members of the university’s board of trustees, the state’s elected governmental watchdog said Thursday.

Auditor General Jack Wagner said the Legislature needs to act on his proposal because it is not possible for the university trustees to be objective in restructuring the organization.

Gov. Tom Corbett shouldn’t be a voting member of the Penn State board of trustees, the state auditor general (and former gubernatorial candidate) Jack Wagner says.

His suggestions were issued ahead of a news conference to discuss them, and Wagner promised a fuller report in about two months that will elaborate on how the board can be changed to make its decisions more transparent to the public.

Wagner said the university president, currently Rodney Erickson, should not be a member of the board at all, and that the governor, who is now Tom Corbett, should only serve as a non-voting member to address concerns about a potential conflict of interest.

Corbett is a Republican, while Wagner is among the state’s highest-ranking elected Democrats.

Corbett spokesman Kevin Harley was dismissive of the idea. “That sounds like a recommendation from someone who lost a race for governor,” Harley said.

A spokesman for Erickson did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Wagner also said the state’s open records law should be amended so that it more fully covers Penn State and three other so-called state-related universities: Temple, Lincoln and Pitt. And he said the Penn State board should not be able to meet without the participation of at least half of it 32 trustees — the current minimum is 13.

Penn State has received hundreds of millions of dollars in state support in recent years, and Wagner said the total is more than $10 billion since the university was founded in the 19th century.


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