Art Greenwald: Penn State Board of Trustees candidate

April 10, 2014 

Biographical information

Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

Age: 60

B.A. journalism, 1976; M.S. counseling psychology, Nova Southeastern University, 1990

Work: writer, journalist, author, mental health and addictions therapist, Fort Lauderdale

Experiences and activities: Launched journalism career covering scholastic sports at 16 for the Pittsburgh Press and hometown Altoona Mirror. While in high school, hosted an AM Top 40 all- night radio show and worked in news at three central Pennsylvania radio stations throughout college and beyond. Art has written for magazines and newspapers nationwide while an editor, reporter and writer for South Florida publications. He has also worked as a family and couples therapist and as a case manager in the Florida community mental health system. His soon-to-be-published second book will include a Penn State section chronicling his student encounter with coach Paterno, an op-ed condemning the NCAA sanctions, Penn State lettermen tributes, and Nittany Nation musings. Member of Penn State Alumni Association, Penn State Collegian writer, First place recipient of the Press Association of Penn State Commonwealth Campuses for journalistic excellence in feature writing, National Collegiate Certificate of Merit in recognition of quality achievement in college journalism, PSU publicity chairman for Spring Week activities, PSU’s WDFM Radio weekend sports director.

Please describe your motivations for running for the Board of Trustees.

I seek a position on the board not for glory, ego or recognition, but because of an honest and heartfelt desire to help my school through a dark and difficult period.

I need to fight for the issues that matter, fix what’s broken, influence leadership, help steer the ship back on course, assist the university and community in healing, honor the past and move forward with dignity, unity and pride.

Like everyone with an abiding loyalty and love for Penn State, I, too, was deeply affected by Jerry Sandusky’s crimes against children and the consequent damage inflicted on our school and its rock-solid image.

And yet, as an alumna who passionately believes in Penn State as a first-class learning institution and the lofty ideals it represents, I could not passively sit by and allow one man and an ineffectual BOT to destroy a great university and a remarkable legacy.

Heartbroken, hurt, disgusted and angry, raging at Sandusky, the board of trustees, the NCAA, Louis Freeh and the media, a good crying now and again felt better, but didn’t do much in the service of change.

But, after committing fully to the Paterno field project, being a part of something profoundly important, I knew I could make a difference by running. Still reeling at the way in which Coach Paterno was fired and unjustly maligned, it was the right thing to do for a man who gave us everything.

I want to give back to JoePa and to Penn State. It’s that simple.

What are the most important challenges ahead for Penn State, and if elected, how would you address them?

Penn State faces several challenges ahead, including moving forward and out from the black cloud of the Sandusky storm.

We are a fractured community, but we cannot fully mend till the truths are known and changes are made in governance. If elected I would pursue those truths vigorously and with my strong communication-counseling skills and experience, work to unite disparate forces and take firm stands to advance the integrity of this university, not lesson it. We cannot change the past and picking at the scab keeps us stuck in negativity. But, we can change the future by coming to terms with it, learning the lessons and moving on in solidarity and purpose.

Tuition control and stabilization, student debt and affordability presents another colossal challenge, especially for those prospective and current students from middle to lower class families who can no longer afford the exorbitant admissions bill.

To address these complex issues, I would not raise tuition, but lower it for income-pressed, middle class Pennsylvania families. Accommodating the academically fit students must be our top priority.

I would also revamp student loan services, and offer financial aid to as many students as possible at decreased interest rates.

In striving for smarter, sounder fiscal policies, I advocate for trimming the fat through administrative cuts, (particularly low-value and redundant positions and services), slashing needless programs, increasing class sizes, a merit pay freeze on high-paid administrative personnel, creation of academic scholarships like those in athletics and increasing those programs through alumni giving program and fundraising.

If elected, what position would you support on the topic of Penn State board of trustees reform?

As a serious candidate running on a change platform, I strongly support real BOT governance reform, a position I have never deviated from.

Since Nov. 9, 2011, the board of trustees has lost trust with its students, faculty, boosters and alumni. They no longer represent the interests, wants and needs of Penn State. From the shameful firing of coach Paterno by a cellphone, improperly submitting to the disputable Freeh report and caving to the oppressive NCAA sanctions, they’ve made one dreadful decision after another.

If elected, I will work tirelessly to change the dysfunctional board culture, promote openness and accountability and work to unite competing factions. I will push for free and equal expression and demand truth, transparency and accountability. And I will mobilize our alumni base and strive to give all a stronger, more inclusive voice in the governance process. No longer can the board’s executive committee act as a toxic cabal, operating in secrecy and stifling opposition.

True change demands an open and engaging atmosphere in which board members are assured a meaningful role, can comfortably and without recrimination, discuss and debate germane and sensitive issues freely and candidly, even the unpopular ones. Censoring or alienating anyone on the board of trustees must cease. Civil disagreement, diplomacy, reasoned debate and fair negotiation are fundamental to the reform I advocate for.

I also support passage of Senate Bill No. 1240, Sen. John Yudichak’s reform bill that would significantly reform the board of trustees governing structure, reducing the size from 30 to 23 trustees.

If elected, what position would you support about Joe Paterno?

I would support the only morally acceptable position and one in which more than 80 percent of alumni embrace — an appropriate honoring of Joe Paterno for his countless contributions and 61 years of outstanding service to Penn State.

It would be unconscionable and do irreparable damage to the soul of this university and town not to, and there can be no moving on until this occurs and reparations are completed.

The way in which this accomplished man was robbed of due process, never given the chance to speak, answer questions, offer up his side of the story and fired crassly in a phone call should be abhorrent to everyone.

We must all be outraged at the way Paterno was scapegoated, sold down the river, tossed under the bus — pick your cliché — without his day in court, this selfless treasure of a man who devoted his life to modeling ethics, giving to and serving others, leading with integrity, character and class. This is NOT the Penn State way. How dare anyone impugn an incredible legacy based on lies, half-truths, misinformation and lack of clear and convincing evidence.

Before he died, Joe Paterno acknowledged that he “would have done more had he known more” regarding Jerry Sandusky, completely consistent with the Joe we know and love.

In 2012, I joined Blake Tobias’ Paterno Field Project and when elected, I will continue to devote time and effort to honoring him and securing his legacy to its rightful place.

No one is more deserving.

articleart@aol.com, www.facebook.com/articleart, www.linkedin.com/vsearch/p?orig=SEO_SN&firstName=Art&lastName=Greenwald&trk=SEO_SN

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