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Penn State Trustees Committee Holds Off on Appointing Student Representative, 2 New Members Join Board

by on May 08, 2014 10:48 AM

The Penn State Board of Trustees committee on governance and long range planning decided Thursday to hold off on appointing a student representative to the board. The governor's office has promised to appoint the member before the board's critical July meeting.

In July, the board will meet to discuss tuition increases. The committee approved a policy in March that would allow the board to appoint a student to the board if the governor failed to appoint a student representative prior to the July meeting. The committee says it is critical to have a student represented during the tuition discussion. The full board was expected to take up the measure Friday. 

However, committee vice chair Carl Shaffer announced at Thursday's meeting that the committee and full board will not take action on the matter this week.

"We've been assured by the governor's office that a gubernatorial student will be named for the July meeting," Shaffer says.

At the same time, the board will still have to option to hold a special meeting to take action should the governor fail to nominate and/or state senate fail to approve the nominee by the July meeting.

The current student representative, Peter Khoury, graduates in May.

In other news, the committee discussed creating a sub-committee to evaluate and refine the university's policies and procedures for selecting a university president. Several board members, including Anthony Lubrano and Barbara Doran, agreed to the need for an analysis of the selection process that was recently followed to hire incoming President Eric Barron.

Additionally, several committee members described Wednesday's private small group sessions regarding the board's make-up and election process as successful.

The board also has two new members as the state Senate approved April 9 gubernatorial nominees Cliff Benson and Todd Rucci. Rucci will serve until July 1, 2015, or until his successor is appointed. Benson will serve until July 1, 2016, or until his successor is appointed. The new members replace Ira Lubert and Alvin Clemens, whose terms previously expired.

Benson is the chief development officer with the Buffalo Sabres and assisted in the purchase of both the Sabres and the team's AHL affiliate, the Rochester Americans, by Sabres owner Terry Pegula. Benson also helped facilitate Pegula's $88 million donation to help launch a Division-I men's ice hockey program at Penn State in 2011. An accountant and attorney, a graduate of Penn State, Benson earned a J.D. from Brooklyn Law School and a masters of law in taxation from NYU.

Rucci is a government and community relations officer with PAP Technologies. Previously he served as the executive director of the Pennsylvania Lottery, and before that he was the assistant vice president at Susquehanna Bank's Private Banking/Sports Division, where he helped professional athletes with banking services, investment management and estate planning and trusts.

A Penn State alumnus, Rucci was a right tackle on the football team from 1989 to 1992. He also played eight seasons in the NFL with the New England Patriots.

Meanwhile, the committee on finance, business and capital planning Thursday recommended for full board approval a variety of renovation projects.

The committee approved the appointment of PJ Dick Inc. of Pittsburgh to design and build a renovation of the Greenberg Ice Pavilion to be re-purposed for temporary laboratory space and the new location for the Morgan Academic Center.

After the completion of Pegula Ice Arena, the Greenberg ice rink next to the Lasch Football Building was decommissioned and the building has not been reassigned. The complex was previously the home of Penn State hockey teams and community skating. The project is expected to be complete by the summer of 2015.

The committee also approved of final plans to renovate Steidle Building to include modern lab space. Additionally, the committee recommended approval of final plans for the McCoy Natatorium pool renovation and air handling unit replacement. The university says the pools, decks and heating, ventilating, and air conditioning systems need to be replaced.

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Jennifer Miller is a reporter for StateCollege.com. 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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