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Penn State Board of Trustees Address Freeh Report, Approve 2012-13 Budget and Tuition Increase

by on July 13, 2012 2:27 PM

Updated at 4:36 p.m.

DUNMORE, Pa. – The Penn State Board of Trustees approved a 2.4 percent average tuition increase for the 2012-13 academic year.

The university's 2012-13 operating budget was $4.26 billion.

Penn State's appropriation was set at $279 million, no different than the 2011-12 appropriation and the same amount as Penn State received in 1995, when the university educated 20,000 fewer students.

"The 2012-13 budget includes funds to provide for modest salary increases following the past two years when most faculty and staff have seen their salaries increase by no more than one percent," Erickson said.

This year, "only the most necessary increases for operating expenses and energy costs" will be funded, according to the proposal. No additional funds will be budgeted for deferred maintenance or the capital improvement program.

"We are very appreciative of the work our state representatives and the administration have done to restore level support for Penn State's students, even in the face of unprecedented fiscal challenges," Erickson said when the budget was signed by the governor on July 1.

"As the state's only land-grant university, Penn State's relationship with the Commonwealth always has been special. This commitment from the state, in concert with Penn State's continued and significant cost-cutting measures, reflects the strength of our partnership as we work toward our mutual goal: ensuring the availability of a world-class education to students from all walks of life."

In total, the tuition for undergraduates at Penn State will increase an average of 2.4 percent – 2.9 for in-state students attending University Park campus, a 2.4 percent increase for out-of-state students at University Park and 1.9 percent for Commonwealth campus students.

The Committee on Academic Affairs and Student Life approved Stephen Dunham as Vice President and General Counsel. He'll be working out of Old Main starting Monday.

Updated at 4:10 p.m.

DUNMORE, Pa. – The Committee on Audit, Risk and Legal Compliance updated the Board of Trustees regarding civil lawsuits filed against the university, including Mike McQueary's writ of summons. 

McQueary filed his writ of summons in May, which demonstrated his intent to eventually file a civil suit against the university.

"We do not have any reason to believe McQueary's argument carries any merit," said Ira Miller, legal subcommittee chair.

Lubert said the criminal case against former Penn State administrators Tim Curley and Gary Schultz is ongoing. The men face criminal charges of perjury, alleged to have lied to a grand jury and failure to report child sexual abuse. 

Also acknowledged was former Penn State president Graham Spanier's suit filed against the university in which he seeks emails turned over to him that are on Penn State servers. There is a hearing in the case on Aug. 17.

Two suits, filed by "John Doe A." and "John Doe B.", have been filed in Philadelphia, neither plaintiff being a victim listed in the grand jury presentment but having to do with Jerry Sandusky, said legal subcommittee chair Ira Lubert. A third suit was recently filed against Penn State, also relating to Sandusky.

Ken Frazier, chair of the special investigations task force, addressed the findings of Louis Freeh's report and said he believes it proves the board effectively executed a "no-holds bar, comprehensive investigation."

"At that time, we heard the concerns of many observers that this would be whitewash, that this would not be an honest appraisal," Frazier said. " With the publication of the Freeh report, I think those concerns should be allayed by now."  

Earlier at 2:27 p.m.

DUNMORE, Pa. – Louis Freeh's scathing report was the first thing mentioned by both Penn State president Rodney Erickson and  Board of Trustees' chairwoman Karen Peetz at the board meeting Friday at the Worthington Scranton campus.

Peetz said the board is grateful for the 119 recommendations Freeh included in his report, as they will be taken seriously and acted upon. The board plans to take the necessary measures to ensure "a collapse in leadership of this magnitude never happens again," she said.

Erickson's opening remarks addressed the facts the Freeh report revealed and discussed the immediate next steps for Penn State.

"We are committed to addressing our failings. But this report also reinforces our commitment to helping to build greater awareness of the societal issue of child abuse," Erickson said.

The University Park campus will serve as the host site in the fall for a national conference to focus on the education of the signs of, response to and prevention of child sexual abuse. Erickson talked about the creation of a Presidential Task Force on Child Maltreatment and Penn State's partnership with the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape.

Penn State has donated more than $2.6 million to abuse prevention efforts since November 2011, but Erickson acknowledged no dollar amount is enough to erase what Jerry Sandusky forced his victims to suffer.

"While yesterday's issuance of the Freeh Report provides some level of clarity for our community, it does not undo the pain that the victims of Jerry Sandusky have experienced and continue to experience ... We realize that we are still at the beginning of the process and we have many challenges ahead."

Erickson went on to address the many achievements of Penn State students, including those who will compete in the 2012 Summer Games in London, and recent alumni over the past academic year. His comments in their entirety are available here.

The three new board members who were elected in the board's 2012 election, where voter turnout shattered records, were acknowledged. Adam Taliaferro, Anthony Lubrano and Sgt. Ryan McCombie started their three-year terms on July 1.

Gov. Tom Corbett did not attend.

A press conference will be held following the meeting, which is part of the board's standard operating procedures.

Related coverage: 

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