Penn State

Trustees notebook: Officials lay out specific improvements from latest Mitchell report

When former U.S senator George Mitchell said Penn State had made improvements in the recent annual report that led to the NCAA’s repeal of many of the sanctions levied after the Jerry Sandusky child sex scandal, just what did that mean?

In a joint meeting of the legal and compliance and audit and risk committees Thursday, some of those steps were laid out.

Officials walked committee members through the process that started in July 2012, after the Freeh report detailed a laundry list of areas where the university should make improvements.

Penn State attorney Frank Guadagnino said most of the report’s recommendations were handled within a year, by assigning items to different members of the administration and tackling them week by week, month by month.

In the second year, the university looked at ongoing improvements and bigger projects, some of which went above and beyond the Freeh report.

That list included such things as enhanced security and athletic and recreation facilities improvements.

Achievements credited in the second year included a code of responsible conduct, an ethics and culture survey completed with more than 120,000 faculty, staff and students, and an inventory of youth programs that pointed to more than 800 projects serving about 200,000 kids.

Penn State Health will be formally voted on by the board of trustees Friday.

The nonprofit intersection of Penn State Hershey Medical Center and Pinnacle Health, meant to include hospitals, surgery centers, home-health providers and similar organizations in a new venture, was first announced in June.

“The creation of Penn State Health is another necessary step to effectively position the university’s health enterprise for the future of health care,” said A. Craig Hillemeier, Penn State’s senior vice president for health affairs, CEO of Penn State Hershey Medical Center and Health System and dean of the College of Medicine.

“By creating Penn State Health, we can bring together health care organizations of various size and clinical specialization to increase access to care, enhance quality, and manage cost over a broader geographic and population base.”

Director of Intercollegiate Athletics Sandy Barbour knows that the coming years will be lean for her department.

In a report to the financial committee Thursday, her department detailed present challenges and goals for the future.

Among the low points is a decrease in football ticket sales. Current attendance is at just 88 percent capacity for Beaver Stadium, the second largest venue in college sports. Ticket and parking prices are projected to rise as soon as next year.

The department reported a net operating loss of about $1.3 million for the last year, and an ending cash reserve of $5.2 million after including the first in a series of three separate $10 million external loans.

Caution in major capital expenses for the programs is planned in the next five years, athletics officials said.