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Penn State Board of Trustees set to Meet with Governance Consultant

by on January 16, 2014 6:20 AM

The Penn State Board of Trustees is slated to meet with a governance consultant publicly and privately Thursday.

The board will hold a public session with the consultant at 1 p.m. followed by a private session.

Holly Gregory of Weil, Gotshal and Manges LLP, a law firm based in New York City, is the governance consultant the Committee on Governance and Long-Range Planning recommended and the full board hired in November.

The consultant will "facilitate the evaluation of several ongoing issues on governance," according to Governance and Long-Range Planning Committee Chair Keith Eckel.

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

Board members Anthony Lubrano and Barbara Doran questioned whether Gregory was the appropriate choice.

Lubrano said he disagreed with a comment Gregory made about marginalizing dissenting members of the board. Committee Chair Keith Eckel tried to clear up the matter by putting her comment into context.

"In August 2012, Ms. Gregory made a presentation to the board on board effectiveness," Eckel says. "To the extent that Ms. Gregory made that reference, I understood her to be speaking hypothetically and generically and not with specific reference to Penn State or the board."

Eckel says when he checked with the firm, they said his recollection of the remark was accurate, and that Gregory was not advocating marginalizing board members who voice opposing viewpoints.

Gregory has worked with Eckel in the past, but the two reportedly did not have a very close working relationship. Eckel says he did inform the board of the past working relationship.

A total of 11 companies submitted proposals for the consulting job. That number was eventually narrowed to three. The committee heard in-person proposals from all three on Oct. 31 and Nov. 1.

The Board of Trustees will hold committee hearings Thursday morning. Then, on Friday, the board will meet publicly starting at 1:30 p.m. at the Penn Stater Conference Center.

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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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