Penn State alumni should be aware that the Penn State Alumni Association excluded two candidates, Jim Smith and Elizabeth Morgan, from the upcoming Alumni Council ballot even though both received the necessary 50 or more petition signatures. The PSAA explained that, if candidates could bypass the nominating committee through a petition, there was no reason to have a nominating committee. This makes the PSAA’s bylaws unique because every other nonprofit organization with which I am familiar includes a petition process for the express purpose of avoiding the kind of inbreeding and self-perpetuation for which Penn State’s business and industry trustees are well-known.
Although the bylaws do not say trustees cannot run for Alumni Council, the PSAA also decided to disqualify all trustees on the grounds of conflict of interest. This means, of course, that a PSAA seat on the board of trustees is equally a conflict of interest. The conduct of past PSAA leaders such as Upward State’s Tom Hollander, who publicly attacked four trustees for performing their fiduciary duty to challenge the NCAA sanctions, suggests that the PSAA is not ready to play any constructive role in Penn State’s governance.
Alumni who are not already PSAA life members might want to hold off on joining or rejoining until the bylaws are changed to reduce the excessive influence of the current insiders, and their contempt for the wishes of the members as expressed through candidate petitions.
William A. Levinson