Former Lt. Governor Bob Jubelirer Challenges Penn State Board of Trustees Member Keith Eckel to Public Debate
It appears that former Lt. Gov. Robert Jubelirer wants to turn up the heat on the Penn State Board of Trustees.
Jubelirer, who's emerged as a harsh critic of the board's stand on transparency, has challenged board member Keith Eckel to a public debate.
At the board meeting in September, Jubelirer chastised the board for what he sees as a lack of transparency. As a state senator Jubelirer helped pass Pennsylvania's Sunshine Law which mandates open meetings for public organizations.
“There’s nothing to be afraid of,” he told the board. “It’s time for state-related universities to approach right-to-know.”
Afterwards, during a March for Truth rally, Jubelirer told the crowd he was shocked by the way the board has handled the issue. He said, "It's time for the board of trustees to understand that there needs to be transparency. That board needs to be opened up. They need to be under the ethics act. They need to adopt the right-to-know."
Penn State and other state-related universities are currently exempt under the state's right-to-know law.
Jubelirer is a Penn State graduate who ran for a spot on the board this past spring. He finished in sixth place. Only the first three finishers in the alumni election, Barbara Doran, Ted Brown and Bill Oldsey, were elected to the board.
Jubelirer says he sent a letter to Eckel on Thursday, a copy of which was given to StateCollege.com.
In his letter, Jubelirer tells Eckel, "We clearly have a difference of opinion on the appropriate role of the Board in reforming critical governance issues. As you know there is legislation in Harrisburg in both the House and the Senate that would dramatically change the makeup of the membership as well as how the Board operates."
Proposed legislation in Harrisburg would reduce the size of the board of trustees, set up term limits, tighten the conflict of interest policy and require Penn State to comply with the right-to-know law.
State Rep. Scott Conklin (D-Centre County) is a key proponent of efforts to reform the board. Conklin is holding a public hearing on the matter at the Penn State Greater Allegheny campus. That's scheduled for Oct. 9 at 7 p.m.
Jubelirer says he respects Eckel but they have clear differences on transparency and other governance issues.
Keith Eckel released a statement which says in part, "The steps already taken by the Board to improve its governance and oversight are well documented and have been recognized by important third parties, including Senator George Mitchell and Moody's Ratings Service.
"But as I said at the Board meeting, we have much more work to do in this area. We are moving toward working with an expert in corporate governance issues to address a number of outstanding issues, including suggestions made by elected officials, the Faculty Senate Special Committee on Governance, our students and other members of the Penn State community."