State Rep. Scott Conklin, D-Rush Township, announced plans Friday to introduce legislation which would significantly alter the structure and governance of Penn State's board of trustees.
Conklin said his legislative reform was prompted by recommendations issued by state Auditor General Jack Wagner in the wake of the child sexual abuse charges brought against former football coach Jerry Sandusky.
“Specifically, Wagner recommended overhauling the manner in which the board of trustees operates to create greater transparency and accountability,” Conklin said. “This is a necessary step to restoring public trust in one of Pennsylvania’s great universities.”
Conklin’s reforms would include, but not be limited to:
• Amending Penn State’s enabling statute to remove the president of the university as an ex-officio voting member of the board;
• Prohibiting the president from serving on any standing committee, special committees and subcommittees of the board;
• Amending Penn State’s enabling statute to make the governor an ex-officio “non-voting” member of the board; and
• Making the Right-To-Know Law applicable to all four state-related universities.
“It is my belief that the reforms proposed by Auditor General Wagner will be instrumental and effective in eliminating the concentration of power among administrative officials,” Conklin said. “This will ensure the board of trustees operates in a more cohesive and transparent manner while providing adequate and much-needed oversight.
“The heart-wrenching saga that has unfolded over the Sandusky investigation leaves no doubt in anyone’s mind that the system as presently structured has failed,” Conklin said. “It is our obligation to fix it.”
Conklin plans to introduce his legislation when the House returns from summer recess.