At the Penn State Town Hall meeting of June 2, a member of the audience raised the issue of university employees’ fear of retaliation for reporting wrongdoing.
In his response, Vice President of Finance and Business David Gray acknowledged that the recent university-wide employee survey confirmed “That particular issue — sadly — was most deeply rooted within finance and business.” These are Gray’s areas of responsibility, along with the diversity, ethics, HR, and physical plant departments. The folks concerned about retaliation for reporting wrongdoing are not the people in the academic units, not the people in athletics.
The people with the greatest fear for reporting wrongdoing are the folks who’s work involves the university’s financial activities.
What should that be telling us?
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Provost Nicholas Jones quickly interjected after Gray’s response, with unsolicited comments about President Eric Barron’s insistence on Freeh file confidentiality. But, despite Jones’ diversionary efforts, the “cat was out of the bag.”
I expect the university will quickly issue a “clarification” of Gray’s comments. But those of us in attendance know that Gray’s comments confirmed something we have long believed ... it is the employees within the “money” side of the university who have the greatest degree of fear over the reporting of malfeasance, and those they most fear are the leaders of Penn State.
Many have long contended that the ordeal of the last several years was — in large part — driven by the university leadership’s desire to cover up just what was going on with PSU’s finances.
It is time to open the books.