The two incumbents seeking to retain their alumni-elected seats on Penn State’s board of trustees received official endorsements from the board’s chairman and a local trustee.
Paul Suhey, an orthopedic surgeon from Boalsburg, and Stephanie Deviney, a lawyer from Exton, Chester County, are among the 39 candidates vying for three alumni-elected seats on the board. The two have targets on their backs because they were on the board when the trustees stripped Joe Paterno of his coaching duties, but they said Friday in an interview they want to continue on the help the university.
Keith Masser, the board chairman, said he is eager to continue working with Deviney, the board’s vice chairwoman. He said both have institutional knowledge that is valuable to a board that has already seen several new faces since November 2011, such as the three elected last year: Anthony Lubrano, Ryan McCombie and Adam Taliaferro.
“I, with no reservations, would like to see Stephanie and Paul be re-elected,” Masser said.
Board member and Centre County businessman Paul Silvis said Suhey reads up on the issues before trustee meetings and that his family history and connection with the Paterno family could help “bring some healing.” Silvis said Deviney has shown courage and leadership during the tough discussions the board has faced since November 2011.
Deviney said she hopes her record stands for itself and that her decisions are not influenced by others. She said she makes her decisions with her fiduciary duty in mind.
“At the end of the day, that’s really all I can do, and I’ll accept the will of the alumni,” she said. “I won’t change who I am and the decisions that I’ve made because I think it will get more votes.”
Suhey said he wants to help the university move forward, and he believes his 12 years of experience will be of great value to the board as it continues to navigate the waters of the post-Jerry Sandusky scandal period.
Masser’s and Silvis’s endorsing of the incumbent candidates surely will not sit well with those alumni who want to see the full membership of the board purged, such as those involved with Penn Staters for Responsible Stewardship. The group took out ads in the Centre Daily Times last week, calling on alumni to vote Suhey and Deviney off the board.
But Silvis, who was appointed to the board by former Gov. Ed Rendell, said he hopes alumni who feel that strongly about an issue will instead get in touch with the incumbents to talk it through.
“I would hope that alumni don’t look at an ad or look at a smear campaign and make their decisions,” Silvis said. “I would hope that if they have a concern for how Paul or Stephanie feel, they call them on the phone or they email them.
“Not, you shouldn’t vote for them or not because they were on the board at a particular time in history.”
In addition to incumbents Deviney and Suhey, the 39-candidate list includes a variety of local alumni, as well as Penn State graduates from far-flung places such as British Columbia, Canada, and alumni who ran unsuccessfully last year. Among them are last year’s fourth-placer vote-getter Barbara Doran, former state Sen. Robert Jubelirer, and Nittany Lion letterman Ted Sebastianelli.
Voting starts April 10 and will continue through May 2. The winners will be announced May 3, and the they will be sworn in at the July meeting at Penn State’s Fayette campus.