Starting Sept. 14, members of the public will get to speak at Penn State trustees meetings.
The catch is theyll only have a total of 30 minutes three minutes apiece for 10 speakers and they have to preregister.
Trustees agreed at their July meeting to add a public comment period. They now have rolled out the specifics of how that will be implemented.
Under the new rules, those wishing to talk at the meeting need to fill out a form and submit it to the board secretary two days before the start of the meeting, which is typically at 1:30 p.m. on a Friday.
Along with time limits, the rules say that certain topics contract negotiations, grievances of students or employees, contracts are off limits. If the number of people requesting to speak is more than theres time for, preference will be given to subject matters that relate to the agenda for the current board meeting and avoid repetition.
Penn State spokesman David La Torre said the universitys policy is based on analysis of peer Big Ten Conference institutions. He noted that committee sessions are now public, too.
The board is committed to a more transparent and open process, La Torre said. To that end, committee hearings and general discussions are now open to the public. Instituting a public comment period for the first time builds on that commitment. The board looks forward to providing this opportunity to the university community.
The change comes as some alumni groups and others continue to criticize the board for its handling of the Jerry Sandusky scandal.
The spokeswoman for one such group, Penn Staters for Responsible Stewardship, said it supports the addition of the public comment period.
As an organization, we are encouraging our members to submit questions for next weeks meeting, including the one we posed directly to the board several weeks ago, asking them to produce all of the contracts, letters of intent and memos of understanding regarding the Freeh hiring,
which they have not yet done. We expect an answer; if not in the meeting, outside of it, Maribeth Schmidt said.
Trustees committees are scheduled to meet the afternoon of Sept. 13 at The Penn Stater Conference Center Hotel and the morning of Sept. 14.
On Sept. 14, a seminar will start at 10 a.m.
The full board meeting will begin at 1:30 p.m. at the Nittany Lion Inn, with the public comment period scheduled for 2:30 p.m.
According to the trustees website, psu.edu/trustees, the form speakers need to fill out and submit at least two days before the meeting, along with a list of topics for the Sept. 14 meeting, will be available today.
Anne Danahy can be reached at 231-4648. Follow her on Twitter @AnneDanahy