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Proposed Legislation Cuts Voting Members for Penn State Board of Trustees

by on January 24, 2014 9:35 AM

Updated at 12:10 p.m.

Penn State Spokeswoman Lisa Powers reacted to the legislation, saying, "We continue to welcome input as it has informed numerous changes that have already been made to the structure and operations of our Board of Trustees. The trustees have been working for more than a year on improving the university's governance model and implementing best practices, and in the last meeting created a seventh standing committee. Governance is an ongoing process and we will continue to engage state officials on this important issue."

UPDATED at 10:55 a.m.

Tor Michaels, spokesman for state Rep. Scott Conklin, (D-Centre), says the lawmaker will support the bill if the Senate approves it and sends it to the House.

"Clearly we've been fighting to have this dialogue pushed forward ever since December of 2011. If it makes it to the House it will receive our full support and hopefully we can get the dialogue moving forward," Michaels says.

Often bills are drafted and never make it out of committee for a vote on the House or Senate floor, Michaels says. He hopes that will not be the case when it comes to Penn State reform legislation. Though he says action needs to be taken soon.

"If it is not enacted this session we fear it never will be," Michaels says.

EARLIER REPORT

State Sen. John Yudichak introduced legislation Thursday that would significantly alter the Board of Trustees structure at Penn State University.

Senate Bill 1240, the Penn State University Board of Trustees Reorganization Act, would reduce the board of trustees from 30 to 23 voting members.

"Penn State students and alumni deserve a fully-engaged, efficient and responsive board of trustees – and that can only be accomplished by reducing the size of the current board and closer aligning the composition to governing boards at similar institutions across the country," Yudichak said in a prepared statement. "I am extremely excited about the broad bipartisan support this bill has already received and hope that we can swiftly move this proposal through the legislative process and start to address the glaring shortcomings of the current board governance structure at Penn State."

Under Yudichak's proposal, which has 23 cosponsors, the Board of Trustees would be composed of eight elected alumni, five governor appointees, five elected members from the agriculture industry, and five members from business and industry appointed by a trustee committee comprised of the chairperson and one member from each category. The secretary of education and secretary of agriculture would serve as non-voting members of the board.

The bill would also prohibit the governor, lieutenant governor and all state row officers, such as treasurer and auditor general, from serving on the board.

Yudichak says he has worked closely with Penn State alum and Senate Appropriations Chairman Jake Corman (R-Centre) to craft a proposal that is in the best interests of Penn State University.

Corman is a co-sponsor of the bill.

Yudichak discussed the legislation at a press conference in November, which can be viewed HERE.

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