Penn State trustee voting lower than past two years

mcarroll@centredaily.comMay 7, 2014 

Voting for three seats on the Penn State board of trustees isn’t likely to reach the record levels of the past two years’ contentious elections.

Penn State released updated voting numbers Wednesday, showing 29,208 alumni have cast ballots with only one day left in the election. Last year, about 33,000 had voted going into the final day.

Interest in the trustees election has soared since the Jerry Sandusky scandal hit in late 2011. In 2012, 37,500 alumni cast ballots to shatter the previous record. Voting approached those numbers again in 2013 but failed to set a record.

But voting has now trended down the past two years.

The board has been under a microscope after the Sandusky scandal and some grass-roots alumni groups have formed to challenge sitting members for their seats.

One of those groups, Penn Staters for Responsible Stewardship, has seen four of the six candidates it endorsed in the past two elections win seats.

The race this year has 31 candidates, vying for three seats held by trustees Marianne Alexander, Jesse Arnelle and Joel Myers. Of the incumbents, only Myers, the founder of AccuWeather, is seeking re-election.

The deadline to vote is 9 a.m. Thursday and the results will be announced Friday at the trustees meeting at the University Park campus.

The winners take office in July and will be sworn in when the board meets at the branch campus in Schuylkill County.

Also on the agenda Friday, a vote is expected on whether to add a permanent student trustee to the board, which would raise its total to 33 and its voting members to 30. The board’s governance committee signed off on the proposal at a meeting in March.

The board will hear an update on the presidential transition. Outgoing President Rodney Erickson’s last day is Sunday and Eric Barron officially steps in as the university’s 18th president Monday.

The trustees could also vote on a number of capital improvements, including a $52 million addition and renovation to the Steidle Building, which houses the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences’ department of materials science and engineering.

The trustees election results are expected to be revealed toward the end of the meeting Friday.

Matt Carroll can be reached at 231-4631. Follow him on Twitter @Carrollreporter.

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