Alumni-elected members of Penn State’s board of trustees missed out on a chance to gain a leadership role Friday.
Kathleen Casey was picked to serve as board vice chairwoman, defeating Bill Oldsey.
It was an opportunity for one of the nine alumni-elected trustees, who largely ran on board reform platforms, to gain a coveted spot.
One Penn State graduate who attended the meeting Friday asked during the public comment session why so few alumni-elected members are in leadership.
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Ceil Masella complained that none of the alumni-elected members chair a committee, and that only one member serves on the executive committee. That is Ryan McCombie, who was only appointed to the committee Friday.
“I would say that the mechanisms for entry on this board provide a method to become a board of trustee and then when you become a board of trustee (member), you are here to serve Penn State University,” board Chairman Keith Masser said, responding to a question from Masella.
Masser said his committee choices are based on his understanding of the leadership capabilities of the board and are made to best serve the university.
As for the board’s new vice chairwoman: Casey, a Penn State alumna and former commissioner of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, has served as a trustee since May 2013. She was appointed to the board by Gov. Tom Corbett.
Paul Silvis, the former vice chairman, nominated Casey for the role. Oldsey was nominated by McCombie, setting the race between the two.
Silvis called Casey a “consensus builder” and “unifying presence,” who he said will promote “integrity, trust, mutual respect, collegiality” on the board.
“It is evident that through (her) experiences as well as Kathy’s passion for Penn State and its mission, will (result in) Kathy bringing principled leadership, diplomacy and strategic thinking to this board.”
McCombie said Oldsey would be able to bridge the divide that exists on the board.
“Electing him as chair would be a huge step towards establishing trust and moving forward,” McCombie said. “... He has the reputation with the faculty, staff and administration to lend a healing hand and help Penn State truly move forward.”
Casey took the election, but the board didn’t reveal the vote count.
Masser will spend another year as chairman after being the only nominee Friday.