Penn State

Auditor general against rule changes that could limit Penn State trustees’ access

Pennsylvania Auditor General Eugene DePasquale issued a warning to Penn State board of trustees on Wednesday concerning changes to the board’s bylaws that could limit their access to university information.
Pennsylvania Auditor General Eugene DePasquale issued a warning to Penn State board of trustees on Wednesday concerning changes to the board’s bylaws that could limit their access to university information. Centre Daily Times file photo

The Pennsylvania auditor general isn’t one of the state officials that gets a seat on the Penn State board of trustees, but he has some advice for the university leaders heading into this week’s meetings.

Eugene DePasquale put out a statement Wednesday about charter and bylaw changes on the table.

The rules under consideration would make it more challenging for trustees who want information to get it if the university — or a majority of trustees — don’t want to give it up.

“As Penn State’s board of trustees meets this week, I encourage members to carefully weigh the impact of any change that could limit access to information about the university they are elected to preserve and protect,” DePasquale said. “With a board of 36 members and 2 non-voting members, these bylaw changes would further hamper input from all but the most leading members of the board. As noted in my report, I continue to believe that a smaller board — of no more than 21 voting members — would improve Penn State’s governance and accountability.”

The auditor general had a strong critique of Penn State after a report released in June.

“Further, I have said repeatedly as a recipient of a significant amount of taxpayer dollars, it is time for the General Assembly to make Penn State subject to all the provisions of both the commonwealth’s Right-to-Know Law and the Public Official and Employee Ethics Act. I will continue to watch how closely the Penn State board follows the thoughtful recommendations included in my latest — and certainly not last — audit report of this institution,” he said Wednesday.

The rule change proposed comes in the wake of several board members being involved in lawsuits against the university.

Seven of the nine alumni-elected trustees sued for access to the source materials for the Freeh report, the product of the commissioned investigation into the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal. They won, and later a court agreed that the university should cover the cost of the suit. Alice Pope, who called the proposed rule change “mean-spirited” in September, was one of the seven. She said she should not have to sell her house to pay a lawyer to pay the cost of doing a volunteer job.

Lori Falce: 814-235-3910, @LoriFalce

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