After three years of a slow-motion coup, with angry alumni trying to put their stamp on a Penn State board of trustees that many felt they no longer recognized, the revolution, it appears, is over.
In a manner of speaking, anyway. The university announced Monday that just three alumni candidates have qualified for this spring’s ballot for three open alumni trustee seats, meaning the April 10 through May 7 election is essentially uncontested. So, without further ado, PennLive projects the May’s trustee election winners: incumbents Anthony Lubrano and Ryan McCombie, and newcomer Rob Tribeck, a Harrisburg attorney. But seriously, this is an incredible turn of events after three years of unprecedented interest and participation in the alum election process: No less than 86 candidates entered the field in 2012, the first year after the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal turned the public perceptions of the school on its head. Even last year, a field of 30 entered the scrum for three seats. One clear victor here is the grassroots alumni group Penn Staters for Responsible Stewardship, which has pretty much owned the alumni election process over the last three years, whether it was fighting incumbent alumni trustees or other slates that argued the PS4RS way was too extreme. The group had thrown its endorsements to Lubrano, McCombie and Tribeck this year. But the drop in candidate interest is also likely due to the fact that the alumni as a whole have no more directly-elected members remaining from the board that voted to, among other things, fire the beloved Joe Paterno. Along the way, big-name incumbents like Jesse Arnelle, Joel Myers, and Paul Suhey have been defeated, or withdrawn from the race before they could be. PS4RS spokeswoman Maribeth Roman Schmidt certainly proclaimed victory after the ballot was set Monday. She said, in part: “Penn Staters for Responsible Stewardship is proud of the role we’ve been able to fill in bringing together an active, forceful community of more than 40,000 Penn Staters who have stood up for our tradition of “success with honor” through the university’s darkest days. “We are growing and will continue to be a strong voice for alumni and supporters who believe that truth and justice are worth fighting for.” The nine alumni members still don’t represent anything close to a majority of the overall board. But they have begun to wield influence on some issues as the overall board has gradually turned over, and they certainly give voice to a passionate group of supporters that had felt disenfranchised after the events of November 2011.–Charles Thompson