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Local Lawmaker Scott Conklin Proposes Sweeping Legislation to Shake Up Penn State Board of Trustees

by on December 11, 2012 2:50 PM

In response to state Auditor General Jack Wagner’s report on the Penn State Board of Trustees, Rep. Scott Conklin (D-Centre) proposed sweeping legislation Tuesday that would reduce the number of board members by 10 and prohibit the university president from serving as a voting member of the board.

Conklin said the bill’s purpose is to increase accountability and transparency among Penn State’s governing body. To do so, he said, Penn State must no longer be exempt from the state’s Right to Know Law.

“This is a public university, and the public deserves full disclosure of how their tax dollars are being spent," Conklin said in a press release.

He added: “These are comprehensive and overarching reforms that we have been diligently working on.”

Other proposed reforms include:

  • Amending Penn State’s enabling statute to make the governor and the secretaries of Education, Agriculture and Conservation and Natural Resources ex-officio members of the board;
  • Prohibiting anyone who has served as governor or in the capacity of a statewide row office from serving on the board until four years after their term has ended;
  • Prohibiting the president of the university to serve as an officer of the board or on any executive committees, standing committees or subcommittees of the board;
  • Requiring the board to elect officers annually;
  • Requiring trustees to comply with the state's Ethics Act, including the financial disclosure provisions;
  • Reducing trustee term limits to nine years and establishing three-year terms;

"All else aside, to say it's time to update the current system is an understatement," Conklin said. "My legislation aims to reorganize what has been deemed to be an unusual, contradictory and conflicted board structure.

"At the end of the day, it's about providing the students with the best education at one of the country's finest institutions but you have to have solid fundamentals and that starts from the top down."

Nate Mink covers Penn State football and news for He's on Twitter as @MinkNate.
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