Penn State

Committee discusses how trustees can speak about board issues in public

Penn State trustees may have reached a middle ground on public statements.

On Thursday, the committee ong overnance and kong-rRange planning passed the bylaws that would modify how the trustees can speak about board issues in public.

The move comes after a September 2016 vote by the committee to recommend expectations of membership that would have required trustees to have permission from the chairman to speak to media and to support board decisions in public even if they opposed them in the vote.

That did not go further as the committee did decide to walk back the move for tweaks.

The new recommendations allow more wiggle room, but enjoyed support from many committee members.

One change was language that encouraged trustees to think about their statements and the overall impact on the university if they were taking an opposing view.

Not everyone was in favor. Committee Chair Betsy Huber wanted to stay with the original language, saying she didn’t like the change because “it allowed for public dissent.”

“I thought the purpose was not have any public dissent after board meetings,” she said.

The board has been divided in recent years between its largest single block — the nine alumni-elected trustees — and everyone else. The decision, however, ultimately drew supportive discussion from multiple camps, including University Park Undergraduate Association Vice President Alex Shockley, agricultural trustee Chris Hoffman and Gov. Tom Wolf’s non-voting member William Shipley.

“I kind of like it because it outlines the right way to do it,” Shipley said, saying it was “crazy” to expect dozens of board members to agree.

The next stop is the full board for an up or down vote.