Two seek spot on the Penn State board of trustees ballot

mdawson@centredaily.comFebruary 14, 2013 

Two Penn State alumni have announced their candidacies for election to the university’s board of trustees.

Kathleen Pavelko works as a public media executive in central Pennsylvania, and Bob Hooper was a social worker and union activist in Vermont.

Candidates have to collect 50 nominations by Feb. 25 to be listed on the ballot. Alumni can email the trustees office at bot@psu.edu to request a nominating form.

The ballot will be released April 10, and voting ends the morning of May 2.

Pavelko is the president and CEO of WITF, a public media organization that comprises a TV station, two radio stations and a website in Harrisburg.

Pavelko said she is not running for election with just one issue in mind. She said she decided to run for election because of her love for Penn State and her desire to usher the university through the difficulties brought on by the Jerry Sandusky child abuse scandal.

“Reform of the governance of the (board of trustees) is a priority, and so is affordability for today’s and tomorrow’s students,” Pavelko said. “Managing the legal and moral issues related to the Sandusky scandal is vital, and so is restoring the mutual bonds of respect among alumni, staff, faculty and the commonwealth.”

On her campaign website, Pavelko said she supports changing the structure of the board of trustees, which was a recommendation from former Auditor General Jack Wagner late last year. Pavelko said the governor’s capacities to serve and to appoint members are conflicts.

“In a day when the commonwealth’s funding support has dropped to 3 percent of Penn State’s budget, what is the justification for nine members of the (board of trustees) to be selected or appointed by the commonwealth?” she wrote.

Pavelko touted her experience in management and governance, in which she a member of the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, a trustee of the Archaeological Institute of America, and on the board of Harrisburg Regional Chamber of Commerce.

“I believe that my comprehensive experience in executive management, nonprofit governance, with media and policy, and with Penn State itself, is needed at this time in the university’s history,” she said.

Hooper, of Burlington, Vt., was a social worker and probation officer for 30 years.

His platform includes reducing the size of the board and honoring longtime head football coach Joe Paterno, who was fired by the trustees in the days after the Sandusky scandal erupted.

“I believe it is time to recognize the long and diverse career Joe had at Penn State, the accomplishments he had and his dedication to making the entire university a better place to play and learn,” Hooper said.

The board’s decisions about Paterno “deserve examination and review,” he said.

Hooper said the board has too many trustees serving on it, and he compared it with one that is structured like a nonprofit’s fundraising board. He would be in favor of upping the number of alumni-elected seats at the expense of the trustees election by agricultural societies or to represent business and industry endeavors.

Hooper said he thinks too few board members are involved “in the nuts and bolts of governance.”

Hooper has experience as a union activist, serving as president of Vermont’s state employees’ union and chairman of its board. The experience “exposed me to exactly what good procedure is when dealing with employees and issues,” he said.

Hooper also wants to repair the university’s image.

“Students need to feel a sense of pride in their school, and we need to work to restore the stature that Penn State deserves,” he said.

 

Mike Dawson can be reached at 231-4616. Follow him on Twitter @MikeDawsonCDT.

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