DUNMORE — A former coach sexually abusing boys.
A beloved coach and school officials covering it up.
A board not doing its job and reining in a runaway administration.
Penn State trustees said Friday that will never happen again.
The board said it is taking action to change the university’s structure and culture, turning to the Freeh report, which will act as a road map. It includes 119 recommendations, and board leaders say they’ll implement as many of them as they can.
“The report shows that this university really does value the search for truth and is willing to engage in the painful and critical process of self examination, all for the purpose of being a better and stronger university as we go forward,” said trustee Ken Frazier. He chaired the special task force that oversaw the investigation led by former FBI director Louis Freeh into Penn State’s response to the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal.
His remarks came during a news conference after the trustees meeting at the Worthington Scranton campus.
Penn State trustees Chairwoman Karen Peetz said Friday the board wants to have the structure for implementing the Freeh report recommendations in place by the board’s September meeting.
“We expect that we will take most of them, probably close to all of them,” she said.
But there are no plans for any of the board members to step down.
The Freeh report included 119 recommendations, ranging from examing Penn State’s culture to having a policy so all police reports involving faculty, staff and students are reported to the Office of Human Resources.
Peetz said the recommendations fall in categories such as human resources, risk and compliance, and academic affairs. She said the university administration and a new board committee will work on the issues, with reports at every board meeting.
“They very much map our committees, so that’s going to make it an easy way to have that oversight,” Peetz said.
The university has already undertaken some of the recomendations, such as having a compliance officer and expanding the office of general counsel. Other recommendations include providing special training to police officers on child sex abuse and clearly defining the chain of command in athletics.
Peetz said she expects the board will implement almost all of the changes.
The Freeh report found failings among top administrators and the board. The university officials — former football head coach Joe Paterno, former university President Graham Spanier, former athletic director Tim Curley and retired Penn State senior vice president Gary Schultz — were blamed for actively concealing Sandusky’s abuse, and the board for failing to do its job and oversee the university.
Peetz said the Freeh report, which concluded senior Penn State leaders showed a “total disregard” for the safety of children, provided “greater clarity” on what happened. The scathing report was released Thursday.
“What the report also concluded was that the board of trustees failed to provide proper oversight of the university,” Peetz said.
Peetz said the board is committed to a more active oversight role of the university, promising that means “ensuring a collapse in leadership of this magnitude” never happens again.
Penn State President Rodney Erickson also addressed the Freeh report, highlighting the steps the university is already taking, including planning a national conference this fall to focus on education about child abuse.
“While (Thursday)’s issuance of the Freeh report provides some level of clarity for our community, it does not undo the pain that the victims of Jerry Sandusky have experienced and continue to experience,” Erickson said.
When asked about the employment of Spanier, still a tenured member of the faculty, Peetz said that is something the university won’t speak about publicly.
Erickson said with the Freeh report completed, the university is also planning to respond to the NCAA’s request for information.
Along with a crowd of reporters, a handful of members of the public turned out for the meeting.
Cynthia Zujkowski said she thinks the board has handled the situation badly, and she wanted to get a sense of them as people. Her husband is a Penn State graduate and supporter, and she said Paterno and Penn State have been “a big part of our lives.”
“I want the board to go away. It’s that simple. I think that they are very ready to cast blame on other people and put consequences on other people and have not accepted consequences for themselves,” Zujkowski said, before the meeting.
She said if they’ve cast other people out of their positions for failure, they should do the same for themselves.
Anne Danahy can be reached at 231-4648. Follow her on Twitter @AnneDanahy. Mike Dawson can be reached at 231-4616. Follow him on Twitter @MikeDawsonCDT.
Report’s recommendations for Penn State implementation
Below is a glance at some of the recommendations from the Freeh report, which focus on topics such as university governance and protecting children, university counsel, athletics, university police, trustee responsibilities and compliance.
President Rodney Erickson said the university will keep track of its progress at www.progress.
psu.edu. Freeh recommends the university issue reports in 12 and 24 months to show the progress it’s made.
Examine Penn State culture to create a stronger sense of accountability among leaders, promote an environment of increased transparency of university management, and integrating the athletic department into the broader university community.
Appoint an ethics officer and ethics council.
Conduct open and inclusive searches for new employees.
Evaluate the sphere of control the president and the senior vice president of finance and business have. Those positions were held by Graham Spanier and Gary Schultz, respectively.
Upgrade the position of the associate vice president for human resources to a vice president position and have that person report directly to the university president. Also assign all human resources policymaking to the Office of Human Resources to limit smaller academic units from disregarding university policy.
Track all employee training that’s mandated by governmental or university policy.
Immediately retrieve keys and access cards from unauthorized people.
Advertise job postings for all senior executive positions externally.
Expand the university’s Office of General Counsel.
Require full disclosure of trustees’ financial relationships between themselves and their businesses and the university.
Ensure that the university president, general counsel and senior staff thoroughly brief trustees at each meeting on important issues facing the university.
Give trustees each a university email address and make them known to the public.
Make Clery Act compliance the full-time responsibility of someone in the university’s police department.
Revise the athletic department’s organization structure to clearly define the chain of command and responsibilities.
Have an external review of the university police department and review if the senior vice president of finance and business should oversee the university police department.
Establish a policy that requires all police reports alleging criminal conduct by Penn State faculty, staff and students are reported to the Office of Human Resources.
Keep an inventory of all university programs for children.
Update, revise or create policies for unaccompanied children on university grounds or in university programs.