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Trustee Chairman Attacks Alumni-Elects Over New Lawsuit

by on May 05, 2015 11:21 AM

Penn State Board of Trustees Chairman Keith Masser is firing back at a new lawsuit from six of the alumni-elected trustees, calling it a “yet another unfortunate, unnecessary, time consuming and expensive distraction.”

Alumni-elects Anthony Lubrano, Ted Brown, Barbara Doran, Robert Jubelirer, William Oldsey and Alice Pope filed a petition in the Centre County Court of Common Pleas on Monday. They want the court to force the board of trustees to give them access to information used by the board’s nominating committee to evaluate business and industry candidates for the board.

In a prepared statement, Masser says it is an “accepted practice” of nonprofit boards and other institutions to keep candidate names and other sensitive information confidential “out of respect to the candidates.”

Masser also says that, even though the requested information has traditionally been kept under wraps, he is willing to release it to the alumni-elects to avoid another “waste of university resources” in court.

“Last week I agreed to make the requested information available to trustees if they would simply commit to maintain the confidentiality of that information,” Masser says. “…Because they have now agreed to keep the information confidential, which they could have easily done instead of suing the university, we will provide the requested information.”

But Lubrano says he and the other alumni-elects have received “absolutely zero” communication to that effect from Masser. He takes issue with Masser publicly saying the issue has been resolved, when he says the alumni-elects have not received the information they seek.

“We fully intend to move forward in court,” Lubrano says.

The alumni-elects want the court to issue an injunction that would put the upcoming board of trustees elections on hold. The board is supposed to vote on new members at its Friday meeting, but that might be delayed if this legal conflict isn’t resolved beforehand.

This is the second time in recent memory that alumni-elects have petitioned board leadership for access to confidential information. Earlier this year, the same group of trustees filed a petition in court demanding access for materials gathered during Louis Freeh's investigation into the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal.

Masser gave a similar response to that request, granting access if the alumni-elects would agree to certain confidentiality restrictions. They have since doubled down on their demands for unrestricted access, and the issue remains unresolved.

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Michael Martin Garrett is a reporter and editor for StateCollege.com who covers local government, the courts, the arts and writes the Keeping the Faith column. He's a Penn State alumnus, a published poet and the bassist in a local indie rock band.
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