Consultant to discuss Penn State trustee reforms at governance committee meeting Thursday

mdawson@centredaily.comJanuary 15, 2014 

The New York consultant hired to guide Penn State’s board on several important governance reforms will make her first public remarks when she visits the trustees’ meeting Thursday on campus.

Holly Gregory, of the firm Weil, Gotshal and Manges, has been retained to study and recommend best practices for the board of trustees. The governance issues under study will be the best composition of the board, term limits for trustees, the way board members are elected and selected, the qualifications of trustees, and the board committees.

Gregory will make an appearance at the governance committee, which will meet at 10 a.m. Thursday in Room 211 of The Penn Stater Conference Center Hotel.

University spokeswoman Lisa Powers said Gregory will later address the full board during its governance retreat that starts at 1 p.m. in Room 109 of the conference center. The university has designated Room 108 for anyone who wants to watch it, and the university will live-stream the retreat online at http://wpsu.org/live.

Penn State’s board has adopted reforms in the aftermath of the Jerry Sandusky scandal, such as removing the voting powers of the president and state governor, expanding a conflict of interest policy, and requiring a five-year waiting period before a trustee can take a job at the university.

The board also expanded its committee structure and opened those previously closed meetings. The board also has a public comment session, which has devolved into direct criticisms to the board for the way it handled the Sandusky aftermath.

Gregory will study the issues that have been the subject of debate in the alumni community after the Sandusky scandal put the board under the microscope.

Some alumni want to see the term limits shortened from 12 years to nine years and not grandfather in trustees who have been on the board longer than the term limit. Others want to see a smaller board, though trustees have resisted calls for that, saying the current board’s expanded committee structure would not work with a fewer number of trustees.

The university has not said how much Gregory will be paid for her work.

Gregory’s hiring was not a unanimous decision, as trustee Anthony Lubrano opposed it because of comments she previously made. Lubrano said she advocated for marginalizing dissent, but trustee Keith Eckel has said Lubrano took her comments out of context and that they were not directed at Penn State.

The board will convene in its voting meeting at 1:30 p.m. Friday.

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