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Board of Trustees Committee Recommends Three New Members to Executive Committee

by on January 16, 2014 12:10 PM

The Penn State Board of Trustees' governance and long-range planning committee agreed Thursday morning to recommend three new members to the trustee's executive committee.

The executive committee has 13 members. The governance committee was tasked with nominating three at-large members to the executive committee.

The committee named Kathleen Casey, a senior advisor with Patomak Global Partners; Donald Cotner, president of Cotner Farms; and Rick Dandrea, an attorney with Eckert, Seamans, Cherin & Mellott.

Keith Masser, chair of the Board of Trustees, recommended all three candidates. Committee member Barbara Doran also recommended Ryan McCombie, a retired U.S. Navy Captain and SEAL.

The top three candidates each received the majority of votes and will be recommended to the full board.

At the same time, the full board will be electing a new chair later this month. If Masser is not reelected, then Governance Chairman Keith Eckel said he will consult with the new chair regarding recommendations for the three at-large seats.

Due to changes in bi-laws the three new members will only serve until July, which is when new elections will occur annually. The shift to July allows more participation by board members, Eckert says.

The committee also heard briefly from newly appointed consultant Holly Gregory of Sidley Austin LLP, a law firm based in New York City.

Some of the issues she is expected to tackle include deciding the optimal size of the board, trustee election and selection, term limits, communications mechanisms, the responsibilities of emeriti board members. The consultant will also evaluate the board's effectiveness.

"This is going to be a very engaged effort and we are looking to the committee to help us think through the approach and map out what we're going to do over the next several weeks and months," says Gregory.

Eckel says he is looking forward to working with Gregory.

"This committee is very committed to working on governance issues and suggestions that have come forward. It is absolutely the right reason we've engaged Holly ... We will find much more harmony in moving forward and I really believe Holly is the right person to help us do that," Eckel says.

The full board is slated to meet with a Gregory publicly and privately Thursday. The board will hold a public session with the consultant at 1 p.m. followed by a private session.

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Jennifer Miller is a reporter for She has worked in journalism since 2005. She's covered news at the local, state and national level with an emphasis on crime and local government.
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