Board of Trustees

39 candidates vie for three Penn State trustees seats

Two incumbents, two Vermonters, a Canadian and an Auburn University administrator are among the field of 39 alumni vying this spring for three seats on Penn State’s board of trustees.

The university announced the official list of candidates on campus Thursday, and voting will start April 10.

The ballot’s release culminates more than a monthlong nomination period, during which more than 50 alumni made public announcements that they were shooting for a spot on the board. Some candidates who received the required 50 nominations for a spot on the ballot declined to go forward, said Paula Ammerman, the director of the trustees’ office in Old Main.

Last year’s alumni trustee election — the first in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky scandal — saw an unprecedented 86 candidates.

Despite the lower number of candidates, the major issues during the 2013 alumni trustee race will remain the ones last year that propelled three newcomers to victory: the board’s handling of the Sandusky scandal, the firing of former head coach Joe Paterno, questions over the board’s transparency and board reform proposed by a number of groups.

“When are we going to stand up, plant our feet and make our stand?” said candidate Ted Sebastianelli, who is a Nittany Lion letterman and past president of the Letterman’s Club, after the ballot’s release Thursday. “We need to set the record straight and get due process for our university and our beloved football coach.”

Incumbents Paul Suhey, an orthopedic surgeon from Boalsburg, and Stephanie Deviney, a Philadelphia-area lawyer, are seeking re-election, and their names will be on the ballot. Deviney is currently the board’s vice chairwoman. The third seat never was filled after Steve Garban resigned in July, in the wake of the Freeh report.

The first name on the ballot will be Kathleen Pavelko, the CEO and president of WITF, a public media company in the Harrisburg area.

The field includes 15 candidates who ran unsuccessfully last year and will try again this year. Among that group are Barbara Doran, a wealth management adviser in New York who was the fourth-highest vote-getter last year, William Oldsey, an executive in educational publishing who has a home in Boalsburg; and Rudy Glocker, a Nittany Lion letterman who is a managing partner of a children’s shoe company in Nevada.

Candidates from the State College area include John Diercks, who’s retired from the Air Force; Edward “Ted” Brown III, the CEO of Ketch Consulting; former trustee Ben Novak; and retired educator Doreen Schivley.

Other out-of-state candidates include Robert Hooper, chairman of Vermont’s state workers union; O. Richard “Rich” Bundy III, the president and CEO the University of Vermont Foundation; and John Mason Jr., the vice president for research at Auburn University in Alabama.

Candidates Scott Kimler, of British Columbia, Canada, and David Mullaly, of Annapolis, Md., have worked behind the scenes over the past year calling for board reform. Kimler is an organizer of the group Penn Staters for Reforming the Board of Trustees, and Mullaly organized two rallies last year that asked for university leaders to step down.

Several candidates attended the ballot session on Thursday.

Alumnus Jeff Goldsmith said his top priority is reform of the board. He said he has met with state Rep. Scott Conklin about reform and wants to have a sit-down with state Sen. Jake Corman.

“The board has shown that is has a total lack of vision and leadership,” said Goldsmith, of Lower Paxton Township near Harrisburg.

For Pratima Gatehouse, an engineer who now lives in New York after 13 years in State College, the most important issues are keeping tuition affordable, evaluating the size of the board of trustees, and honoring Paterno in a way that reflects the former coach’s philanthropic devotion.

“Penn State is an academic institution,” she said. “I think that we need to keep that focus.”

Gatehouse proposed implementing the Paterno Fellows program, which is housed in the College of Liberal Arts, throughout the university.

“I think these are things that will help improve our university’s brand,” she said.

Freshman trustee Anthony Lubrano was on campus for the ballot’s reveal, and he said he will endorse three candidates later in March.

A spokeswoman for the reform-minded, trustee watchdog group Penn Staters for Responsible Stewardship said its members will endorse candidates, and that announcement will be April 1.

Voting will close the morning of May 2, and the results will be announced at the trustees meeting the following day.

The three winners will be sworn in during the trustees meeting in July at the branch campus near Uniontown, Fayette County.