Penn State

Do students have enough say in Penn State's governance?

Old Main on the Penn State campus on Wednesday, June 20, 2018.
Old Main on the Penn State campus on Wednesday, June 20, 2018. Centre Daily Times, file

Penn State's student government is pushing for more of a student voice on the university's board of trustees.

Last year, Gov. Tom Wolf broke with a 43-year tradition by not appointing a student trustee, according to the University Park Undergraduate Association. Now, UPUA is advocating for Wolf to choose a student as one of his two 2018 appointed trustees through an organizational-wide letter writing campaign and social media push.

"In order to ensure a better tomorrow for the university, it is vital that a student perspective is not only heard, but sought out," UPUA Vice President Laura McKinney said in an email.

There is a student trustee on the board now, a position codified by the board in 2014, according to Penn State spokeswoman Lisa Powers.

McKinney said that UPUA is grateful to have one student trustee, but there's strength in numbers.

Penn State's board has 36 voting members and three nonvoting members (of which the governor is one). There are six total governor-appointed trustees, and two new ones are appointed each year.

"It is important to have additional student representation on the board of trustees to best convey issues that we face each day," Cody Heaton, UPUA president, said in an email. "The board of trustees loses an important opinion and voice when a student is not appointed by the governor."

Nominations for Penn State's board are made in consultation with the Pa. Senate, where all nominees need to be confirmed, J.J. Abbott, Wolf's press secretary, said in an email.

He said Wolf believes student representation is important on the board, and he's open to appointing another student trustee in the future if the Senate would agree to it.

"Pennsylvania governors have made thoughtful appointments in the past and there is no reason to believe that future appointments would be any different," Powers said in an email.

Powers continued: Student trustees "have been excellent contributors to the governance of the university."

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