No alumni trustees make cut for Penn State executive committee service

mdawson@centredaily.comJanuary 17, 2014 

No alumni make cut for committee

Three Penn State trustees have been nominated to spots on the board’s executive committee.

Kathleen Casey, Donald Cotner and Richard Dandrea were nominated by board Chairman Keith Masser to serve as at-large members of the executive committee, which has the authority to do business between formal board meetings.

Their appointments will go before before the board on Friday. The appointments are contingent upon Masser being re-elected as chairman on Friday, too, and if Masser does not get re-elected, the nominees will be up to the new chairman.

Casey, Cotner and Dandrea are Penn State alumni, but none were elected in an alumni trustee election.

Casey, a partner with a Washington firm that advises on legislative and regulatory issues, previously was head of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. She is a governor-appointed trustee.

Cotner, an agricultural society trustee, manages his family-run farm in Danville. Dandrea is a lawyer in Pittsburgh and was elected by business and industry delegates.

Masser said he nominated those three because of the skills they would bring to the executive committee.

Trustee Barbara Doran said Joel Myers is the lone alumni-elected member of the executive committee, and she went on to nominate Ryan McCombie for consideration.

But McCombie was the odd one out, as he finished last when the trustees voted for three among the four up for consideration. The vote totals were not announced.

The executive committee consists of 13 trustees — the board chairman, vice chairman, committee leaders, chairman of the Hershey Medical Center board and three at-large members. The board currently has just one at-large member, Ken Frazier, who will exit the committee once the other three nominees are approved.

‘We Are’ statue location set

Two words that are said all over campus — at football games, on tours for high-schoolers or at any chance to stir up school spirit — soon will have a physical presence on campus.

A 12-foot, 3-D stainless steel sculpture of the iconic words “We Are” will be installed at Curtin Road and University Drive adjacent to the Intramural Building. The plan is for the sculpture to go in once the first phase of the IM Building’s expansion is complete, which is expected by May.

The sculpture is the gift from the class of 2013, and the sculpture is by Penn State alumnus, Jonathan Cramer, of Brooklyn, N.Y.

The design was unveiled at the university’s board of trustees gathering on Thursday.

Ford Stryker, the vice president of the university’s Office of Physical Plant, said a sign near the sculpture will have words to the alma mater inscribed on it in the handwriting of author and professor Fred Pattee, who penned the song in 1901.

Stryker said inspiration for the sculpture was from the “LOVE” sculpture in Philadelphia and cloud sculpture on the Miracle Mile in Chicago.

Reform consultant airs news

The lawyer hired to usher Penn State’s board doesn’t “pretend to be an expert in university governance.”

Instead, consultant Holly Gregory told the board on Thursday her expertise is in corporate and nonprofit institutional governance.

Gregory offered the disclosure during a 30-minute introduction to the board during a public session that later convened behind closed-doors to begin working on the governance reforms. In her remarks, Gregory stressed that trustees’ must put the university’s interests above their own personal interests and that trustees need to be active, involved and protect the university’s reputation.

“Effective boards institutionalize a culture of inquiry, mutual respect and constructive debate that leads to sound and shared decision-making,” Gregory told the board. “Information is key to informed decision-making on a timely basis.”

The reason that Gregory is here is the aftermath of the Jerry Sandusky scandal that exposed weaknesses in the way the board ran.

The board has adopted a number of reforms already, such as a public comment period, a thorough revamping of its committee structure and reduced term limits to name a few.

But some hot-button reforms — board size, the way trustees are selected, what qualifications they should have and shorter term limits — remained unresolved. Gregory will help the board arrive at what works best for Penn State.

“The reality is the buck stops with the board,” she said, going on to say that significant governance reforms are necessary after a crisis to show that change is at hand.

In addition, Gregory said the board needs to be forward-thinking and anticipatory, not “looking in the rear-view mirror.” The board can have differences in opinion among its members, but there also needs to be respect for one another, she said.

Penn State has not disclosed how much Gregory is being paid or the length of time she’ll be offering her services.

— Mike Dawson

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