With the ballot set for the Penn State alumni trustees election and a lawsuit moving forward over allegations of impropriety in last year’s agricultural trustee election, one more university-relate electoral controversy is heading to the courthouse.
On Thursday, James Higgins Smith Jr., filed a complaint against the Penn State Alumni Association.
Smith claims he received more than 50 nominations for the PSAA Alumni Council, and that the association acknowledged receipt of his nominating petitions.
However, Smith says “the executive director of the PSAA has failed and refused to place Dr. Smith’s name on the ballot for council.”
On Jan. 30, Nominating Committee Chairwoman Katie Smarilli sent Smith a letter explaining that he had not been “approved” for the election.
“The Nominating Committee carefully considered all nominees for the ballot with a focus on the nominees’ demonstrated support of the Alumni Association’s mission, goals and programs,” she wrote, saying that an “unprecedented amount of interest “ required “many difficult selection decisions.”
There are 10 seats up for grabs on the 86 member council, with 30 candidates in the running.
Smith said there is “no justification” for his name to not be included in the running.
According to the complaint, Smith has tried to address the issue without going to court without success.
Smith is not the only excluded candidate.
Four alumni-elected trustees (Anthony Lubrano, Bill Oldsey, Ted Brown and Alice Pope) were dismissed from contention, as was former assistant football coach Jay Paterno.
Alumni council member Deborah Beidel, who was critical of the committee’s decision, said in January that there were seven other potential candidates, most of whom were part of the watchdog group Penn Staters for Responsible Stewardship.
Smith also submitted a petition for a preliminary injunction that would place his name, and those of the other potential candidates, on the ballot.
The PSSA elections take place May 12-31 and results are announced June 1.