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Board of Trustees Table Decision on Child Care Center; Public Comment Hour Tense

by on September 14, 2012 4:42 PM

The Penn State Board of Trustees voted to table the decision to rename the Gary Schultz Child Care Center at a meeting intensified by Franco Harris' attempt to address the board.

At its regular bi-monthly meeting, the Penn State Board of Trustees introduced a public comment hour. The original plan was to have seven individuals address the board under strict three-minute time restraints.

However, after the seventh speaker sat down and members of the public heckled the board, demanding more time for the speakers, former Penn State football player Franco Harris walked to the microphone.

"I'd like to pinch-hit for the eighth speaker," he said, referring to one individual who could not attend the meeting at the last minute because of a family emergency."

"I think, Franco ... " Board Chairwoman Karen Peetz said before she was cut off by jeers from the crowd, urging the board to let the former tailback speak.

Harris and Peetz both continued speaking until Harris ultimately conceded at sat back down. He later expressed his disappointment in the board outside the meeting room, where he said they "failed greatly in their leadership of Penn State."

"It's very clear in the Freeh report, that if you read that, that Penn State did not even get involved in the '98 investigation, and so why did they put that responsibility on us, and why did Penn State get penalized for that," Harris said.

Earlier, the seven individuals who spoke before the board addressed several issues, including the validity of the Freeh report; the NCAA sanctions and one woman suggested an alternative name for the Gary Schultz Child Care Center at Hort Woods.

The board was supposed to vote on renaming the center, but instead voted to table the decision pending the outcome of former Penn State vice president Gary Schultz's and former Penn State Athletic Director Tim Curley's trial, scheduled for Jan. 7.

Trustee Anthony Lubrano spoke first on the issue, reading the letter Schultz's attorney, Tom Farrell, wrote to the board asking them to hold off on making a decision.

"If it went eight months without a name, it can go four more," trustee Ryan McCombie said.

Board members also heard a report on Penn State's endowment for 2012, which totals $1.86 billion as of June 30. It's a $24 million increase in the 2012 fiscal year.

On June 30, the university's endowment was $1.77 billion but because of similar funds, such as charitable remainder trusts and gift annuities, there was $90 million more that put Penn State's endowment at $1.86 billion. David Branigan, executive director of the university's office of Investment Management presented the numbers to the board.

The meeting opened with remarks from Peetz and Penn State President Rodney Erickson, who lauded the efforts of faculty, staff and students and welcomed the board to a new academic year.

Other updates at the board meeting included:

  • An update on the search for the next Penn State President; proposals for the various search committees are expected to be presented to the board at its November meeting. The search process will take at least a year.
  • Approved Penn State's budget for 2013-14 includes a request to the Commonwealth of Pa. to provide $10.6 million more than Penn State will receive in 2012-13. That would bring Penn State's appropriation to $289.5 million.
  • An update from the legal subcommittee revealed a fourth civil suit has been filed against the university, putting the count at two writs and two lawsuits. The committee continues to review the recommendations passed on by Judge Louis Freeh in his report. To date, more than a dozen of Freeh's recommendations have been implemented. 

Laura Nichols is a news reporter and @LC_Nichols on Twitter.
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