UNIVERSITY PARK — Penn State’s Faculty Senate put its support behind President Rod Erickson’s efforts to restore trust in the university, but also called for an independent committee to review the university’s actions.
During a special meeting Friday, the Faculty Senate approved a resolution expressing sympathy for victims of sexual abuse and calling for “an independent special committee whose chair and the majority of whose members have never been affiliated with Penn State.”
Faculty Senate Chairman Daniel Hagen said after the meeting that the next step will be communicating the resolution to the university administration, likely starting with acting Provost Rob Pangborn.
University trustees will form a committee to review how the allegations of child sexual abuse by former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky were handled. Board member Kenneth Frazier is chairman, and state Education Secretary Ron Tomalis, an ex-officio trustee, will serve as vice chairman.
The committee is expected to include trustees, faculty and students, and Frazier has said it will have an outside, independent counsel.
Hagen said after Friday’s meeting that some faculty have expressed concern that if there isn’t a lot of outside representation on the trustees’ committee, the investigation might not be as thorough as it could be.
“It’s simply a concern,” Hagen said. “I wouldn’t consider it necessarily a feeling of distrust, but wanting to make sure that every stone is ... overturned as they move through this process.”
The vote in favor of the resolution followed more than an hour of discussion and changes to the initial proposed resolution, which came in the form of a petition from some faculty.
Mohamad Ansari, the faculty senator who presented the motion, said it was drafted in a “spirit of solidarity with the president in order to restore public trust in this great institution.”
Faculty Senate member Al Luloff said having an independent committee of people not tied to Penn State is key.
“By bringing in people who have no vested interest in this place, who aren’t tied by degree or by parental ties or who are not part of the Penn State culture, we’re much more likely to get a more open and responsive statement about who we are and how we move forward,” Luloff said.
Anne Danahy can be reached at 231-4648.