As an emeritus Penn State management professor and a Penn State doctoral graduate in management, we found President Eric Barron’s message “Challenges facing Penn State post-Sandusky” refreshingly candid.
After a cautious start as the new Penn State president, Barron’s clear message strikes the right chord regarding the mess the university has been mired in since 2011.
As Barron stated, Penn State is in fine shape with respect to enrollment, research funding, teaching and donor support. It is the university’s public image that needs repair.
The biggest obstacle to Barron’s effectiveness in restoring Penn State’s rightful reputation as a world-class university is the “Old Guard” faction of the board of trustees. They are the ones who bungled the response to the Sandusky charges; who accepted the Freeh report without even reading it; who approved the signing of the consent decree allowing the NCAA to levy unwarranted sanctions on the university; and who are now resisting the bona fide governance reforms that would make Penn State a better-run organization.
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Despite scathing criticism from faculty, students, alumni, watchdog groups and the media, the “Old Guard” continues to defend their past actions.
State officials have signaled that they are prepared to impose governance improvements on Penn State. Barron could avoid the embarrassment of state intervention by taking on the misguided obstructionists on the trustees who stand in the way of progress.