Penn State’s outgoing student leader has a message for the university’s board of trustees: Stop fighting.
University Park Undergraduate Association President Terry Ford delivered a heartfelt message on Friday at the final board meeting before he leaves office.
“I don’t recognize the atmosphere,” he said.
Ford told the trustees that his experience at Penn State had been “transformative” for him. There was just one flaw.
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He referred to the dynamic on the board. Penn State’s leadership since the breaking of the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal in 2011 has been often contentious. There were record numbers of candidates for alumni-elected trustees in 2012 and 2013. The current nine alumni-elected trustees are often at odds with the other 27 voting members as they lobby for information or to have their position noted despite not having the votes to overcome the majority.
Ford used words like “despair,” “endless debate” and “painful conflict” to describe the climate of the university’s leadership. He said he didn’t want to see anyone suppress their opinion, but “it must always come second to the higher purpose” of Penn State.
The message found its mark with emeritus trustee Mimi Barash Coppersmith, who rose to her feet afterward, the first of a standing ovation.