UNIVERSITY PARK — A Penn State Faculty Senate evaluation of how the board of trustees works with the university community is still in the works.
A committee was formed after a Faculty Senate debate in January in the midst of the Jerry Sandusky scandal.
While attention has focused lately on the university-commissioned Freeh report and whether it was fair, the scandal also put the spotlight on the structure of the board of trustees and how it interacts with the rest of the university.
The committee, led by communications professor emeritus John Nichols, was charged with examining how the Penn State trustees' structure compares with those at peer universities, how the board interacts with groups including students, alumni and staff, and making recommendations for improvement.
Were a complement, in many respects, to what the Freeh Group did, Nichols said. The Freeh Group was an outsider looking in. Were insiders doing a self-assessment.
The senate formed the committee after members considered, but rejected, a vote of no confidence in the board of trustees handling of the child abuse sex scandal.
Nichols said the focus is not on assessing blame or rehashing the past.
Our job is to look forward and say, How can the governance structure of Penn State be improved and the information flow throughout the community be improved? Nichols said.
Faculty on the committee have been gathering information about other boards including size, composition, whether members are elected or appointed, and who appoints them.
Nichols said the data can be used as a benchmark for Penn State.
We want to be cautious in using that data, Nichols cautioned. Just because the majority of boards do it one way or another, doesnt mean Penn State has to.
He said committee members also have spoken with representatives at other universities, including faculty governance leaders and trustees, and are studying other schools governance documents to see what could be applied to Penn State.
The formation of Penn States 32-member board of trustees, which is a mix of appointed and elected members, has been a source of contention among those unhappy with how trustees handled the scandal.
One group, Penn Staters Reforming the Board of Trustees, was formed with the goal of cutting the boards size.
The committees findings and recommendations will be compiled in a report that will be presented to the full Faculty Senate.
Anne Danahy can be reached at 231-4648. Follow her on Twitter @AnneDanahy