Board of Trustees

Penn State trustees notebook: New York lawyer hired as governance consultant; Jubelirer eyes board seat

A lawyer from New York will help Penn State’s board figure out the best governance practices for the university.

Lawyer Holly Gregory — a partner of the firm Weil, Gotshal and Manges — was formally announced by the board’s governance committee on Friday. The committee voted to recommend her during a conference call last week.

Among the governance issues under study will be the best composition of the board, term limits for trustees, the way board members are elected and selected, the qualifications of trustees, and the board committees.

The university didn’t say how much Gregory will be paid for her work.

Trustee Keith Eckel said Thursday that comments the consultant made were taken out of context by fellow trustee Anthony Lubrano during the conference call. Lubrano said the consultant advocated marginalizing dissent on the board, but Eckel said the comments were generic and not directed at Penn State’s board.

Trustee Barbara Doran voted last week against recommending Gregory, but on Friday, she said she is now “quite comfortable” with the hiring.

Penn State’s board has adopted reforms in the aftermath of the Jerry Sandusky scandal, such as removing the voting powers of the president and state governor, expanding a conflict of interest policy, and requiring a five-year waiting period before a trustee can take a job at the university.

A state senator from Luzerne County introduced legislation on Wednesday that would cut Penn State’s board from 30 members to 23.

Jubelirer officially running for board

Former Lt. Gov. and longtime state Sen. Bob Jubelirer announced Friday that he will run for one of three alumni-elected seats on the board of trustees next year.

Jubelirer’s announcement comes about two months ahead of the beginning of the election process. Alumni can start gathering nominations in January.

Jubelirer ran unsuccessfully last year and was not one of the candidates endorsed by the alumni group Penn Staters for Responsible Stewardship. This time, Jubelirer said he’ll seek that group’s endorsement.

Over the past few months, Jubelirer has made critical remarks about the board during public appearances that strongly hinted at his running again. In September, he challenged Eckel to a debate, and in October, he railed against the board during a public hearing on Penn State reforms sponsored by state Rep. Scott Conklin, D-Philipsburg.

On Friday, Jubelirer outlined his criticisms again, saying the board’s reform needs to be done through the state legislature. He said trustees also need to be subject to the state ethics act, and that he would dissent “when dissent is called for” if he’s elected.

Jubelirer got a plug from Lubrano, who was supportive of the former senator’s campaign last year.

“I’m looking forward to serving with the senator,” Lubrano said.

In return, Jubelirer called Lubrano a “renaissance guy” who has changed the discourse at Penn State.