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Barbara Doran

April 28, 2013

Ken Frazier: on Understanding the Chairman of the PSU BOT Freeh Investigation Committee

The May 6th Forbes story on Ken Frazier may explain a lot: "As chief executive, can he learn to listen? Or will he fall back on his trial lawyer’s instinct to dig in and fight? Krumholz, the Yale cardiologist, isn’t sure. ‘Merck’s a great company,’ he says.

‘But they have yet to show the courage and insight to take the mistakes of the past and learn for the future.’”


March 30, 2013

Penn Stater Magazine Asks Candidates Questions on the Presidential Search, Board Reform, and Alumni Trustee Responsibilities

Q#1: President: What should Penn State be looking for in its next president?

The modern university presidency is an immensely complex job, and nowhere is it more multifaceted and challenging than at Penn State, overseeing 24 campuses, the World Campus, an elite athletics program, and dozens of the world's leading academic programs. The president of a great university is a talented, artful executive, statesman and visionary.

Our next President should come from outside the current Penn State administration to bring a fresh perspective and be beholden to no one. At the same time, that person should be willing to embrace the University's history and traditions while exhibiting the insight and experience to make changes that advance and integrate teaching, research and service.

The president must have the credentials to be respected by faculty, the personality and energy to be embraced by students, the fundraising acumen to connect with donors, the political skills to engage with the legislature and congress, the openness and media savvy to handle the daily challenges of an inquiring public, the acumen to deal with a governing board that has lost credibility with important constituencies, and must have real business skill to resolve the tension between escalating costs and low tolerance for passing those costs on to students and taxpayers -- without negatively impacting the academic mission. Our next president should have the capacity and passion to mend fences with key stakeholders.

Penn State has had some remarkable leaders who collectively created the foundation for what we have today. I am confident there is another great president in our future.

Q#2: Governance/reforms: What changes or reforms should the Board of Trustees consider to help the university progress after the events of 2011 and 2012? Please explain

Faulty decision-making with far-reaching, long-lasting and extremely negative consequences is the issue here, and the question is could board restructuring lessen the possibility of future missteps? I would argue yes. Large boards often mitigate against individual engagement and accountability, as power devolves to the more agile and focused Executive Committee: the board should be smaller.

The rationale for ten governor’s representatives should be reexamined given the state’s proportionately smaller revenue contribution. Eliminate the three state department heads and the vote for the governor, as all must put the interests of the state first: reduce appointees. Because Penn State has evolved in the modern era into a comprehensive university with dozens of fields of study, it might be advisable to revisit designated trustee positions for agriculture and industry and broaden the scope of disciplinary background.

Developing a transparent, rigorous process for nomination/election of candidates is also desirable. The President should have no vote as an employee.

Term limits should apply equally to all board members, with years served to date counting: worries over loss of institutional knowledge appear self-serving and unwarranted given the horrendous missteps of the last 18 months. Restrictions on insiders moving from staff to trustee should apply as well to trustees moving to staff: trustees gain insider knowledge and perceived advantage, jeopardizing the appearance of independence and fairness.

Public dissent by trustees should be allowed and documented. The proposed rule to expel board members is ill-advised and easily abused to silence legitimate voices of change and opposition.

Q#3: Alumni Trustee: How do you define the role of an alumni trustee, and how would that inform the way you would approach your term on the board?

A board should have a diverse group of trustees who bring the requisite skills and experience for the best input, insights and perspectives for the development and advancement of the mission, priorities and goals of the institution; and to discuss and work through the governance agenda from oversight to ensuring the best levels of leadership and management process for the institution to using resources wisely.

Each trustee should be a high performing member who actively participates in rational, informed deliberations by considering reliable information, thinking critically, asking good questions and respecting diverse points of view, while respecting the strengths, values and traditions of the university. An alumni trustee has an extra responsibility, and that is to make sure that the collective and individual voices and concerns of the hundreds of thousands of loyal and proud Penn State alumni, who are deeply concerned with the leadership of our university, are heard and effectively represented.

I bring a long background in leadership positions in business and nonprofit governance to the table, and also deep experience as a Penn State and national level athlete. I am a lifelong learner who believes our young students are our greatest resources for the future of our country, and bringing them the best education at affordable costs must be our #1 priority. This is both a personal and professional commitment to bring to bear my experience, background and drive to ensure the best governance possible for this special place called Penn State.


March 25, 2013

Answer to an Alumnus re Final Six PS4 Candidates

I do not know three of the six final candidates, so I can only comment on the two I have met and spent time talking and meeting with over the last few months, Bill Oldsey and Bob Jubelirer.

Bill Oldsey is absolutely on the right side of things, has deep, high level executive management experience, and has been working hard behind the scenes to set the stage. He would be a very effective leader on the board.

I know that Bob Jubelirer is a bit of a controversial figure, but this guy has serious chops, and you don't get to be President of the PA Senate without knowing how to knock heads. He has apparently been a passionate Penn State supporter his entire life, and am told he played a key role in various appropriations battles on our behalf; he knows from the inside out how the system works. My sense is that this is a man unafraid of anything or anyone, and has a big network that can make things happen.

If you remember, Anthony was extremely controversial last year, earning not just one but two front page negative articles in The Philadelphia Inquirer, and has been an incredible advocate for all we are fighting for.

We need strong outspoken leaders who know how to get things done, whether it is behind the scenes and/or out in front: both approaches are needed.

There should be more information on all candidates coming out in the next few weeks from all sides, so we all have a lot of homework to do.


March 17, 2013

Answer to an Alumnus Question re Freeh vs. Thornburgh Discussion at Hershey Board Meeting

Excellent question about whether to bring a motion at that particular moment. I was sitting next to Bob Jubelirer, who was President of the PA Senate for a long time and Lt. Gov. for a bit, too, and he was fairly jumping out of his seat to demand they make a motion. He is a seasoned and tough politico who goes for the jugular, and is also running for the board. I like his style.

I, however, would not have made the motion, and would guess Lubrano did not for good reason, too, as it depends on what you are after. If you want to force the issue and risk losing just to put those opposed on the record, than do it. I wouldn't, not with this board, as I have little doubt how they would vote. Then the issue is closed, and you have lost the opportunity to get what you really want a little farther down the road.

I think it better to let pressure build -- the Frazier melt-down and fiasco should pick up steam, as his performance, both as a board member and as the CEO of one of the largest publicly traded companies in the world, is just incomprehensible; it should make the board more amenable not less to overcoming the combative defensiveness about the Freeh report that he displayed. His ability to appear to be objective or to have any further influence on this subject is now seriously compromised.

You also have the former highest legal officer in the land, a former Attorney General of the United States, Dick Thornburgh, asking for a meeting with the board. If they can resist that...well, let's just wait and see.

Adam supported Anthony by saying he thought it was a good idea to hear both sides. As Adam does not speak up all that much, it was all the more powerful for having done that just then. I would give Adam time to grow into this. What counts is that he votes on the right side of things when given the opportunity, and that he begins to find his voice, as he did on Friday.


March 17, 2013

Answer to an Alumnus Question as to What Steps Can be Taken to Mend Fences With the Alumni and are Scholarships Imperiled

Practically speaking, the total dollar amount from donors is up from last year, so I don't think scholarship funds will be affected, but we will see as time goes on.

I think, however, that the current BOT has lost the trust of many alumni and has little credibility, which they continue to further damage; e.g., Frazier's tirade and racist comment while defending the Freeh report this past Thursday at the legal and compliance meeting does not help alumni or university relations one bit.

I see little this current BOT can do short of resigning en masse, and admitting they have made some serious mistakes, starting with the weekend they fired, excuse me, "retired" Joe Paterno, and told Spanier to step aside while they managed the crisis.

At the moment, given I see no inclination to do any such thing, they can start by answering the call made at Friday's board meeting for Freeh and Thornburgh to meet at the university to have a thorough discussion, and the board should formally examine both. Some board members have rehabilitated themselves somewhat -- Joel Myers and Al Clemens -- by criticizing the Freeh report and saying we should fight the NCAA sanctions. The board as a whole should vote to reopen discussions with the NCAA to ask them to invalidate the Freeh report as the basis for their decision and to suspend the sanctions, as they are not based on any violation of any NCAA rule or policy. This can be initiated at any time. The board, of course, has to first decide that the Freeh report should not be the basis for any judgments, given the serious shortcomings so clearly outlined in the Thornburgh report.

I also think that in trumpeting how quickly they are implementing Freeh's recommendations, they are rubbing salt in the wound by having yet to adopt his recommendation that all trustees have a separate university email, especially as the BOT website was just re-done. There is still no direct way to reach the board members (though there seems to be a bit of a black market in getting their personal emails!)

There is much more to talk about, but refer you for now to my website for more ideas of what I believe the BOT can do to move us all forward.


March 12, 2013

Answer to an Alumnus Question about Governance Reform and the State

Yes, I am aware of Rep. Conklin's legislation, but the little-known fact is that the legislature has no direct authority to change the board at Penn State. They can only do it by attaching their recommendations to an appropriations bill (or something else that is meaningful to Penn State), so that if Penn State wants whatever it is they want enough, they have to do what the legislature wants.

That is why the governance committee is reviewing all the recommendations that have been made -- the Wagner report, the Faculty Senate report and their own work -- in drafting a final recommendation to the board: it is up to the board to make the changes not the legislature.

Having sat in on the last governance committee meeting, I am not hopeful we will see much change.

We already saw what they did with the term limit by-laws in '03, and the term limit reduction from 15 to 12 years last summer. They grandfathered themselves all in! So Jesse Arnelle, now at 44 years, and Joel Myers at 32 years (sorry, I can't count that high when you add it up), get to continue ad infinitum.

I heard one of the longer-serving trustees argue as to why they couldn't make the term limits retroactive for themselves: all that valuable institutional knowledge would be lost! Imagine that...


March 12, 2013

Answer to an Alumnus Question about Getting to Know All the Candidates

We have next year, too, so it is good to get ready and get to know us all (and maybe think about running yourself). Whether one gets on the board or not, there are many ways to contribute to the conversation. There is a reason why John Surma is stepping down, why Karen Peetz relinquished the chair (and will step down at year's end), and why Jim Broadhurst may very well follow when his term is up next year: it is because of all of you, calling for accountability and real leadership, that is making it happen.

We are all on the same team, so let's support each other, be constructive, and do what the board didn't do: learn the facts, listen to all sides, consult widely, then make our decisions. We will move forward when we get to tell OUR story, and not have others tell us and the world who we are.

Penn State, always.


March 8, 2013

Answer to an Alumnus Question about Working with the State

Thanks so much for your highly pertinent question, as I do think we can do a lot more with the state. While we are all aware of how difficult many state's finances are, and that funding has been cut to many universities, ours has shrunk to well below the national average, at around 4% of our total budget.

Typically, the President has been the point person in dealing directly with the governor and legislature on this and other issues (Erickson spoke last week to the Senate Appropriations Committee), and a gentleman named Mike Diraimo, who heads governmental affairs for us, is very engaged.

Apparently, however, no board members except for one has been in touch with any legislators to discuss our pressing issues, from the need to get tuition under control, to the NCAA sanctions, to our governance issues.

Normally, board members would not be involved directly, but in exceptional times, exceptional actions need to be taken; I plan to work with like-minded board members to influence legislation on a number of issues highly relevant to us.

As I did last year, I will and do encourage our newly awakened and activist alumni base to contact their own legislators about our urgent issues. It makes a big difference.


February 23, 2013

Answer to an Alumnus Question about Relationship with Karen Peetz

We were field hockey and lacrosse teammates back at Penn State: she was two years behind me. We did not socialize off the field then, nor have we since, but we discovered we were both in New York about three-four years ago, before she was on the board. As I was then and still am on the Varsity S Committee of the Penn State Campaign, which means we try to involve varsity athletes in supporting their sport, I was given her name to approach. I was quite surprised to learn she was in New York, and was eager to meet with an old teammate (with women often changing their names after marriage, it is hard to keep in touch. Peetz was then Bretherick). We met, swapping stories and marveling at how much women's sports have changed, so that now young women grow up taking it for granted that they can play sports (not so when I grew up).

When the grand jury presentment and media storm broke in November, 2011, I got in touch with her immediately to keep her up on what alumni were feeling, and actually still have the email that I sent saying that I hoped the board would not sacrifice Paterno, as the media was already demanding his head.

Later, in late winter, I asked to meet with her, because I saw no signs that the board remotely understood the impact of their decisions, and wanted to sit down and have a frank and direct talk with her about what I thought they should do. Given our past association of mutual respect and goodwill, we were able to surface many issues and listen to each other's take on things. I wrote a summary of my thoughts for action immediately after that initial meeting, which to her credit, she shared with the board. My last words to her as I left, and turned to look at her, were that she had a moment in time, as the new leader, and a relative newcomer to the board (she had been there just 18 months), to make a real difference, and that bold leadership, and nothing less, were what we needed. I had already urged her to speak out publicly, to say that in retrospect, they, too, wished they had done more, and that, perhaps, just perhaps, they had acted rashly in firing Paterno, and needed to hold themselves accountable, too.

I subsequently had further talks and emails to her to continue pushing in that direction. (In the BLOG section of my website,http://www.doran4pennstateboard.com/barbara_doran_blog.shtml, the sections titled "Open Letter to the Board" are essentially my communications with Karen.)

I also introduced her and two other board leaders to the PS4 leadership in early April so that they could hear directly from the leaders of the leading pro-reform group. I also organized another meeting at that time with two other very strong reformers for them to hear from, and one, Ira Stolzer, is applying for a business and industry spot on the board at my urging.

While working on the inside has had limited impact (though some), it is always a route that I believe must be pursued, as they still have the votes and the power to effect change. I have dug deep to understand what motivated them to act as they did, and have spent many many weekends up at Penn State meeting with people from all sides of the fence to understand that and to better inform strategy and a plan of action. Simultaneously, I have also pursued the longer-term strategy of getting as many new independent and good people on the board as possible (whether I am one of them is beside the point), and other actions, as my conclusion remains that the current board members are both not able to see their role in all of this or accept responsibility for it.

In any event, it means that we need, to put it politely, board turnover.

And needless to say, when an alumni spot opened up with Garban's resignation just two months after the election, Karen, who had sole authority to appoint a replacement, opted to pass. The logical and least controversial choice might have been the fourth place finisher in the still very recent, alumni election, i.e., yours truly, but she choose to leave the seat empty.


February 10, 2013

Sue Paterno's Independent Report on Freeh and the Continuing Controversy

The media, Freeh, the NCAA, and our own leadership, have done a good job in making Penn State synonymous with Sandusky's crimes. But in reality, this is all about one rather controversial shower incident that took place on Penn State's campus in 2001; in trying to tie Penn State to the 1998 shower incident, the well-publicized facts just don't support it. That particular incident was independently investigated by several different child welfare agencies, the local police and county D.A., and both Sandusky and the child said nothing happened when interviewed. The case was closed. Given Sandusky's reputation and stature in the community at the time, it is a wonder that there was any investigation at all.

There have been varying stories from McQueary about what happened in '01, though none match what Dr. Dranov, a well-regarded local physician who talked to McQueary just afterwards, said under oath at Sandusky's trial: McQueary told him he never saw anything sexual, despite being asked three times. How then, did that morph into a public and legal accusation of "anal rape" in the shower?

In his trial, Sandusky was acquitted of the most serious charge related to the '01 shower incident at Penn State, that of anal rape. Is it possible that the '01 shower incident was more like the one in '98? Used for grooming purposes but far short of sexual assault? (Which is by no means meant to denigrate the seriousness of intent Sandusky apparently always had). The fact is, we have yet to hear from Curley and Schultz, who stand accused of lying about and covering up rape. We have heard, however, from ex-President Spanier, who says unequivocally that not only was he never told of any deviant behavior, but was so confident of the facts that he unwittingly risked his job when he gave his unqualified support to both Schultz and Curley the day their indictments were announced. (Read the online interview of Spanier in The New Yorker for a view at odds with how Freeh depicts him.)

Because Sandusky knew who the child was, he asked him to testify on his behalf. The child, now a young man, agreed but later changed his mind. Why? If he had been abused and was finally ready to tell his story, why didn't the prosecution use him? That would have been their pièce de résistance. Was is somehow connected to Penn State's decision to take total responsibility for Sandusky's crimes by offering blanket coverage to any and all claimants, no matter their connection to Penn State?

Is it possible that the principals in question here did not report it because not only did they think nothing happened, but maybe, in this particular instance, nothing did? As few care to distinguish the false charges from the real ones when it concerns a convicted and serial pedophile, and as the key witness in question remains hidden, we may never know: the fact is, the jury, who convicted Sandusky on 45 other counts, could not answer that question, and acquitted Sandusky on the most serious and wantonly made charge by the state of anal rape. It is a charge that inflamed and still inflames public opinion against Penn State, and one the board cowered in front of, panicked, taking actions whose repercussions will haunt us for years.

As it is, I have seen nothing that persuades me that the men in question had any idea of Sandusky's true nature. No one knew. You all heard the highly credible, FBI pedophilia expert James Clemente today on ESPN and elsewhere: he called Sandusky one of the most dangerous pedophiles of the many he has studied. Read Malcolm Gladwell's piece on the same and on Sandusky in The New Yorker, too, for real insight into how the good ones can go on undiscovered for many years. It often takes an abused child growing up and speaking out to stop them.

There have been many casualties in the fallout from this, beyond the vulnerable and heart-breaking victims Sandusky preyed upon. The spectacle of the nearly hysterical rush to judgment of people whose entire life histories are their most potent arguments against any knowing protection of a pedophile, most visibly Joe Paterno, is too appalling to sit idly by. We can't help but fight back against those who will not wait for the facts to come out, or distort what we do know, and who assume the worst because it suits their personal agendas. Fighting for them is fighting for Penn State and for ourselves, with Paterno the exemplar of all the values we hold dear. "Success With Honor" really meant something, and if we have anything to do with it, it will again someday soon.


February 9, 2013

Answer to an Alumnus Question as to the issue of Vote Fracture Prior to the PS4 “Primary”

Vote fracture is a real issue, and suggest two key aspects to focus on, as people will get on the ballot and run, whether they have PS4 support or not. (Again, it's a great thing that alumni involvement and interest continue to run so strongly, but does present certain tactical challenges.)

One is obvious: identifying the three best candidates for PS4 to support, as your ability to muster and concentrate the vote is unparalleled. (Whether I am one or not is immaterial: we need three strong, committed new trustees who can make a real difference, whoever they may be. We also may see the overall board reduced in size and that could mean fewer alumni spots. How that will be determined -- last in, first out? -- could be as political as redistricting is in politics. Jesse Arnelle, for instance, an alumni rep, is now in his 44th year on the board, with his term up next year.)

Second is making sure everyone understands where the two incumbents stand on issues important to alumni. It is no secret, for instance, that Paul Suhey badgered Graham Spanier for nearly a decade to fire Paterno, and so on.


February 3, 2013

Answer to an Alumnus Question as to My Efforts on Behalf of the University and Alumni

First, I want to say that everyone has a different way that they are contributing to moving things forward in a way that corrects the massive missteps of the recent past. Some are running for the board, some are writing editorials, some are working on legislation, etc. Anthony, for instance, is a gifted orator and a master at generating media attention (thank goodness for his passion and talents). Others, like Ryan McCombie, true to his Navy Seal training, work under cover of darkness, preferring to leave no footprints, but believe me, he has all of our backs, and is relentless in his mission for justice, as you will soon learn. We need it all, and it all makes a difference. It is the strength and the glory of our alumni.

For me, being on the board or not has not changed what I have been doing one iota. They are just different paths one can take. As to what I have been up to, I have been up in State College many many weekends, meeting with many insiders of both the university and the town, trying to learn the back-story of what has happened and why. To me, it is critical to know what can be done, how much can be changed, and who on the board is beyond redemption and who may be wavering and ready to admit they made a calamitous mistake and to take actions to redress the wrongs. Without numbers on the board for critical votes, it will take a committed group of minority leaders, outnumbered, but persuasive in their efforts, to get the board moving in the direction we all long for and are working hard to do.

I have continued my conversations with certain influential board members (Karen Peetz invited some outspoken alumni, including me and Maribeth Schmidt, PS4’s PR person, on to an advisory committee), with the relentless message that no matter what the board does or says, their lost credibility is irretrievable, that their exhortation to “move forward” will not be heeded, and that key decision-makers must resign, e.g., Surma and Broadhurst. They also want to pretend that the alumni discontent is only that of a small radical group, a notion of which I have tried to disabuse them. I first introduced the leadership of both PS4RS and the Board last April as a way to get the two sides talking and to have the board leadership hear first-hand why alumni are so upset.

I have had private talks with two superb potential candidates to try to convince them to toss their hats into the board ring, either through the business and industry appointment process or through the alumni election. One has declined, preferring to work behind the scenes, and the other is applying for a B&I spot.

Given the dire financial stress put on the athletic department by the NCAA fine and the reduction in football revenue, threatening many minor sports (in which I participated), I initiated a conversation about upgrading the food facilities at the football stadium with a key staffer and made an introduction to one of the best stadium food designers in the country, a project when done that would not only upgrade the stadium amenities greatly but bring in several million dollars in extra revenue.

I also made an introduction of a top outside crisis management expert late last summer who is not part of the inner circle’s network (independence!), who was subsequently hired (after most of the horses were out of the barn, unfortunately), and spent the fall with another reformer talking to him for many hours about the issues, and introducing him to as many outspoken alumni as we could find (not hard), to make sure he got just how deep and wide the alumni anger and frustration is. Our intent was to make sure he got that message so as to better inform his discussions with the board.

Not least, I keep in close contact with Anthony and Ryan, sharing information, ideas and plans, and have since their election. We are all one team, all working together for the same ends.


January 22, 2013

In Remembrance of Joe Paterno on the First Anniversary of His Passing:

Joe Paterno was not just the face of Penn State: he was its heart and soul.

His "grand experiment" in joining football and academics together worked brilliantly, and continues without pause in all of Penn State Athletics today. His impact on the university was far larger, however. After winning his first national championship, he boldly challenged Penn State's leadership to bring the university's academic performance up to the level of excellence shown on the football field. In his remarkably audacious speech to the Board of Trustees in 1983, he said:

"So we do have a magic moment, and we have a great opportunity; and I think we have got to start right now to put our energies together to make Penn State not only Number One, but...to make this a Number One institution by 1990."

He talked about endowing chairs, building out the library, having more scholarships, and he put his money where his mouth was, donating not only his own money but also his time in raising hundreds of millions of dollars for Penn State.

What he also said at that meeting--thirty years ago today--is still true today:

"We need an environment of dissent and freedom of speech, and freedom to express new and controversial ideas. Basically, this Board is in a lot of ways reactionary, because you are more conservative than anything else...We need more people to come to us with different ideas, we need more minorities... We can't be afraid..."


January 22, 2013

Joe Paterno and Skin Color

In remembering all that Martin Luther King did for the advancement of African Americans the night before the one-year anniversary of Joe Paterno's death, one is reminded of how determined Joe Paterno was that his black players be treated with respect and dignity, and have the same opportunities as whites.

According to Posnanski in his book, "Paterno," when an Orlando airport restaurant in still-segregated Florida back in 1962, refused to let his star Dave Robinson sit with the white players, the entire team left the restaurant. Paterno then said, "Come with me," and took Robinson with him to a coffee shop to eat. The team was there for the Gator Bowl.

Penn State football's graduation rate for black athletes has always been among the highest, often the highest of big-time football programs. In
Paterno's last year, there was no achievement gap between white and black football players, almost unheard of in Division I football.

Joe Paterno used football as a means to an end when it came to educating young men, and skin color was irrelevant.


December 31, 2012

Presidential Search

One question being debated by the search committee is whether to have someone with a pure academic background or someone who is a hybrid with a solid business background as well. I thought that, Tim Unger, a seasoned business CEO who has started and sold, and advised many businesses, had some interesting observations that I thought it worthwhile to pass along verbatim. Tim and I were classmates who met over the shared training table for soccer and field hockey players.

"Business experience in our next University President is more important than it might normally be, given the combined challenges and initiatives ahead for us, such as campus consolidation (closing and selling off assets), fund raising (procuring capital and filling the coffers), team reshaping (right-sizing), faculty appointments (talent acquisition and bolstering leadership) and dealing with major threats (crisis management). Many of these very real initiatives call for greater practiced expertise which is visible and available in the private sector. Such skills are rarely found in academia and if located won't be at the level of the required expertise.

Expecting positive differences and improved performance without making changes to facilitate them won't see that desired outcome. Articulating the vision, setting the right strategy and then executing against it in a high quality and timely manner is absolutely critical for our beloved University -- time is running out.

Waiting in the wings behind the importance of understanding culture and managing through to consensus is too often the mantra of cultures resistant to change. Look at HP as an example of this -- a consensus based work culture that may wear that as its epitaph. Such environments often breed mediocre outcomes and fall short of necessary change for the better.

Those in decision-making positions who make choices to preserve the status quo or foster self-preservation will help the rest of us continue to see no significant change and over time, I fear, will witness the University wither with declining enrollment and a shrinking footprint quickly becoming a has-been and secondary background player on America's Education Stage. This is the time for change, the time for difference, and the time for action."

Tim has also suggested finding someone with international experience, which had not previously been considered.

I also asked the views of another sage, a man I have found to be long on accumulated wisdom and great judgment but who prefers not to be named. I asked him what he thought was important to look for in our next President. Given his own unique blend of academic and business leadership, I thought it would be useful to hear his thoughts:

  • "Just about all of the attributes one would want in the next president have been said or written, but there are some realities that must be faced:
  • There is a search in process for a provost, a key appointment, absolutely key, and it could have a defining impact on hiring the best candidate as president. In that appointment, as in all of them, we need to seek the very best for if we do not try as a university to be the very best, then we surely will not be.
  • A strong president should inspire. One of the great attributes of Joe Paterno was that he could inspire and he did that for the entire university, not just his team. As a university, we need to know where we want to head. Several years ago, I read a part of a broad mission statement of a major public research university. It said, "We aim to become a preeminent research university." I like preeminence, and there is no conflict between that and being a fine teaching institution, none at all. Sometimes people seem to think that there is.
  • Nor is there any conflict between being a land-grant university and being preeminent. Sometimes people seem to think there is.
  • Nor is there any conflict between being a preeminent university and having a strong athletic program and, I would add, preserving, even enhancing the legacy of Joe Paterno.
  • I think with every presidential search, there is talk of hiring some public notable; and that is sometimes done but, boy of boy, that person needs to understand flat organizations and the power of the faculty and the differences between academe and the private sector or government. Good faculty members can vote with their feet. If we hire such a person, it puts the provost appointment in an even more vitally prominent position.
  • Here, there is a kind of special interaction with the town that is hard to define, but it is part of what makes this….a special place…. The president needs to recognize that and genuinely fit in with the folks. Don't ask me to define all of that but am sure you know what I mean.
  • If a presidential candidate shows no evidence of wanting to make us the best, then that should be the end of the candidacy.
  • The president of a great university is a very talented, artful executive – much more than just an administrator.
  • It would be nice, but not essential, for the person to have a doctorate from a top-flight institution. That is a good proxy for knowing about high expectations and high standards in an academic environment. Organizations outside of the university do not have a monopoly on executive talent."

December 8, 2012

Sorority Girls Chastised in Public Letter from President and Staff

I think the reaction by the administration is so over-the-top as to be more noteworthy than the underlying story. The girls were clearly out of line and should have been reprimanded but not in such a heavy-handed way: bringing out the big guns for a not atypical adolescent prank (remember Prince Harry wearing a Nazi uniform at a party?! I don't believe that the Prime Minister, King and Queen issued a jointly signed letter, but instead, Prince Harry himself apologized publicly for his gross insensitivity.)

Let's not eat our young. We seem to have a penchant for over-reacting to public disapproval and sacrificing those causing the controversy rather than being strong and resolute, taking time to evaluate a situation on its own, without fear or rancor. Aren't we supposed to learn important lessons from past mistakes?


September 25, 2012

Transparency Issues: Public Comment Session of Board Meetings

The addition of a time for the public to talk at the board meetings is part of the board's effort to be more transparent and responsive to constituents. But so far, it has not worked well. Time limits may be necessary but seem to be a bit too strictly invoked when it gets a little hot. After either not answering questions or giving vague answers, there is now a policy of not answering at all, either in the meeting or after. This is really the worst of all possible ways to handle it, as it is like a parent impassively watching a child throwing a tantrum, counting to ten to see if he will exhaust himself, then sending the naughty miscreant to his room for a timeout. Either the board does not have answers to questions posed or does not care to share their views. E.g., Prior to release of the Freeh report, it was positioned as the study that would find out the truth, once and for all. But when it came out, maddeningly incomplete, filled with great leaps in assumed intent, and highly judgmental language, the board choose not to issue a stand on it, indeed, never met to come to a consensus about it. (With massive consequences to the school and the reputation of key individuals,).

Instead, the board stated it would hasten to implement the Freeh recommendations post-haste, which they are doing (though there are no email addresses yet for each board member).They said they would not comment on the report's conclusions and were not going to judge the guilt of the four principals at issue in the report. (Ummm, didn't they make a judgment of all four when they were fired, put on leave and forced to retire or resign? I always thought that firing someone was rather a final judgment.) All this just increases the frustration and anger many alumni feel who want to know what the board thinks of the Freeh report, how Paterno's legacy will be treated, why they didn't prepare for the worst case NCAA actions before the Freeh report came out, and so on: they need to be able to answer all of this publicly and not duck it, but that takes having a view.

It is also part of preparing for what lies ahead: how are they going to respond if someone sues the NCAA, and/or sues them? How do they plan to defuse the ever-growing alumni anger and actions? They need to stop reacting and anticipate. They need to change. They need to defuse the alumni dissatisfaction by radically restructuring the board and soon, to stop the distraction from the task of re-building. Some are listening to their constituencies, but what are they prepared to DO with what they hear?

The students met with President Erickson recently, and it seems the leadership is under fire from all key constituencies: faculty, students, alumni; and it is all about the same things: Paterno, the Freeh report, the sanctions, and more. Many feel more damage has been done by not pushing back against the mischaracterizations of the Penn State culture. What is their game plan? Just ride it out, ignore it, and hope they'll go away? Hoping a stock will stop falling and losing you money is not a rational response: you must cut your losses. Firing Paterno and forcing Spanier's resignation signaled to the world that the board thought they were intimately involved in a cover-up of massive proportions, and instead of understanding that that was just the start of many bad decisions, they continue to defend their actions and dismiss dissatisfied alumni as "Paterno lovers." What happened to Paterno was just the start: by many accounts, both private and public, it was about payback, with little thought to his legacy and the impact on the school. Alumni who are upset are accused of holding back the university, but I think one of the main obstacles to Moving Forward is the board's own lack of credibility. The board has to disgorge its disgraced members in order for that to happen.


September 13, 2012

Message the Alumni Sent in the Recent Election; What Should Be the Priorities/Next Steps of the Board?

By voting out the sitting board members and bringing in three new board members who aggressively campaigned on the message of reform in governance and leadership of the university, the alumni made their concerns clear, holding the trustees accountable for both their failures in oversight and their precipitous and emotionally driven actions in November. I think they are now being held responsible for their failure to fight both the Freeh report and the NCAA sanctions.

If the entire board had been up for re-election this year, I think there is little question they would all have been voted out, rightly or wrongly.

The alumni were stunned and shaken when the board unceremoniously and without any investigation fired both Joe Paterno and Graham Spanier, leaving the university rudderless and defenseless at the worst possible moment. The subsequent failure to reframe and repudiate the deeply flawed Freeh report and to agree to the stunningly irresponsible and gratuitous NCAA sanctions have only deepened alumni disillusionment.

When your own Faculty Senate is in rebellion and taking up the fight because the leadership won't, and when a respected 69-year-old bank president rents a plane to drag a banner over Beaver Stadium urging the ouster of the president and the board, you know the anger and outrage are running deep and wide. The PS4RS group, for instance, whom some on the board like to dismiss as a bunch of irrelevant zealots, has seen their membership more than double from 5000 to 12,000 since the NCAA sanctions were announced just six weeks ago; they have had over 80,000 hits to their blog since June. The students rebelled on the night of Paterno's firing, and the alumni are continuing that rebellion today at Old Main.

There is not a person I talk to who doesn't want great things for this university: they remain stubbornly and visibly proud, flaunting their Penn State garb and bumper stickers, daring the world to take them on. But they will not follow the very same leaders whom they believe not only led us into this abyss, but also refuse to attack the false narrative widely accepted as true about Penn State. Trust in the board has been destroyed and is not recoverable, no matter how hard they work or what good plans they come up with: most will not listen and will not follow.

We can and must move forward, but ironically, the very same board who is telling us we need to move forward is preventing that from happening. There is a double standard at work here – especially given the excoriation of the board by the Freeh report -- and it is time to finally do what is in the best interest of the university: those on the board most responsible for this ongoing debacle should step down to let new leaders who will be unencumbered by alumni rage and distrust begin what will be a difficult enough task without the destruction of the ongoing enmity towards the board.


September 10, 2012

Freeh and his Penn State Connections

According to various news reports, Freeh was apparently completely compromised from start to finish.

Will the hapless Penn State leadership suddenly find its voice and repudiate this dishonest report (Freeh's) and so many of its specious conclusions? When you have fallen down the rabbit hole, though, and are still trying to blame everyone else for putting you there, it is hard to climb back out.

The Penn State board leadership is as ethically compromised as Freeh is himself on this matter. Having used the excuse of the child molestation outcry to settle old scores with Paterno, irrespective of what the facts and truth might be; and without regard for, consideration of, or understanding of the impact on the entire university community, they have no moral authority to repudiate anything other than themselves, which they have steadfastly refused to do.

There can be no moving forward until the truth is told, and when there is no more covering up of the role that money and the connections among Second Mile, state officials, and MBNA officials have played in this whole sordid affair.


August 6, 2012

Open Letter to the Board

The board is talking a lot about messaging recently: what is our message, how do we communicate it? How do we move forward?

A message that does not come from a trusted source, however, will not be heard. The message of embracing the need for significant institutional and cultural change will likely fall on deaf ears until trust and confidence in the leadership of the university is re-established, a clear plan of action is laid out and ready to implement. The question of how to do that is one the board must address head-on.

The Navy took swift decisive action in response to the Tailhook scandal of the early 90's: theirs was no incremental change and the key was accountability: hundreds of officers were dismissed, regardless of level of involvement. The action was harsh but the message was clear: the culture that tolerated that behavior needed radical transformation, and the business of restoring trust and confidence was dramatically jumpstarted by a changing of the guard. Whether officers had exemplary careers before that was irrelevant.

Is there a difference between what has happened on the board's watch and what recently in Russia, where key officials failed to warn townspeople that a major flood with devastating potential was coming? I suspect those officials are no longer in charge.

Many of our alumni have lost confidence and trust in the leadership, and the bellwether for that is PS4RS. Since the NCAA sanctions were announced just a few weeks ago, their membership has doubled from 5000 to nearly 10,000, and shows few signs of slowing. What are their issues? They want, first and foremost, accountability by the leadership that was on duty during the timeline so carefully outlined in the Freeh report. We will continue to see actions like the Paternos' appeals filing until we see real change at the top.

I have attached an article out Sunday in the Harrisburg-Patriot that is thought provoking and may address these issues better than I can: http://www.pennlive.com/midstate/index.ssf/2012/08/penn_state_does_the_university.html


August 5, 2012

Presidential Search

Big alarms go off for me when I see big names like Condi, Colin, etc., as we had a big name in Freeh, and it backfired. Everyone, no matter how big a name, needs carsepteful vetting. I think a big name or two can impress, but a high-level headhunter can really dig for serious folks of national reputation and accomplishment. No big name hacks allowed, but serious people on a serious mission to force change. A few true leader types, who when they speak have a national platform that will get attention, but also have serous implementation skills.


August 5, 2012

Why did Sandusky Suddenly Resign as Coach When He was Heir Apparent?

My understanding is that Paterno had spoken to Sandusky about his level of commitment, as he was very involved with Second Mile at the time. Paterno told Sandusky he would never be head coach unless he committed only to coaching and his family, that there was not room for anything else. Sandusky was not prepared to quit Second Mile: he not only had founded it but he was a big fund-raiser. We also know now that, sadly, this was his pipeline for young boys. This conversation took place before the '98 investigation. There was no love lost between the two, so there is no reason to believe Paterno would protect Sandusky. (Not to mention Paterno's bedrock level of integrity.)

I really believe that no one at Penn State knew that Sandusky was a pedophile, and there is absolutely no evidence that anyone did, the Freeh report notwithstanding. The '98 incident, for instance, was fully investigated by the local police, the DA and a children's public welfare agency, and both the child and Sandusky were interviewed. The case was closed as there was no evidence of any molestation. He took a shower with the child after a workout, his typical m-o we now know.

There is a real question, in my mind, however, about Second Mile's involvement in that incident at the time, as a second psychologist was brought in to interview Sandusky after the first one opined that while nothing actually happened, it was classic grooming behavior of a pedophile. This second one found nothing untoward. However, it has since come out that he was on retainer to Second Mile at the time. Why did Second Mile not begin their own internal investigation?


July 23, 2012

NCAA Penalties

The NCAA penalties are extremely harsh and unnecessarily punitive given the determined commitment to change that Penn State has clearly already made, not to mention these actions were completely outside their own charter and process. This is not about the football program per se but about a broader institutional mindset that was seriously deficient in transparency and accountability; the NCAA is overreaching here.

But it is done.

Penn State must now focus on the future and take the necessary steps to restore the trust and confidence of the Penn State community and the public at-large.

We-are-Penn-State, and we will come back.


July 21, 2012

On the Statue

Given the great emotion around the statue on both sides, I must admit to being very worried about safety issues. Given the blatant threat from someone who paid to fly an airplane over Penn State (the ominous "Take it down or we will" banner) and the determination of Paterno supporters to protect the statue, the potential for violent confrontation is very high. The night of Paterno's dismissal, students took to the streets, and a not insignificant number ended up being arrested. What many don't know is what happened next, and that is that some students have had their futures ruined by aggressive prosecution efforts (this is another story and should be exposed). Moving the statue TEMPORARILY for the safety of all, perhaps to the All-Sports Museum, until high emotions subside and a more balanced perspective can return, might make a lot of sense, even to those of us who think it should stay.


July 18, 2012

Open letter to the Board on the Freeh Report

Part of real reform for Penn State means breaking the insular complacent culture that exists, which the Freeh report and every pundit out there points to as the underlying problem.

An important part of that reform, though, must be the resignation of key board leaders and long-time members who passively presided over the long running acquiesce of the board to the university leadership. Given what we learned in the Freeh report about Garban's advance knowledge and failure to act, he should be the first to go, and the others named should follow.

There can be no double standards here. Four men were held directly accountable for their actions and no longer have jobs, with one of them dead and several facing serious charges, yet the board, who was just publicly excoriated and disgraced, has not yet cleaned house.

I understand for instance, that some board members feel that Garban is making valuable contributions to the discussions right now and argue that he should stay. My response to that is to ask, what about the invaluable contributions over many years of Joe Paterno and Graham Spanier, who arguably took this university to a level far beyond what it was when I was there in the seventies? If you fail in your moral, legal and fiduciary responsibilities, you must accept the consequences and do the honorable thing, especially as there is no outside mechanism for removal.

This self-serving rationalization is a continuation of the cozy mentality that contributed to bringing this mighty university down.

The board can be a powerful force to move us forward and out of this hell, but I feel that until the board reforms itself, its ability to do so is seriously compromised. The board is not an amorphous headless body that can hide behind the rationale that some board members have used saying that the board was unanimous when they "fired" Paterno and Spanier, that no one individual is culpable. The board was led for years by a few, and they need to be held to account. We are not now just talking about the November meeting and the controversy over actions taken then, but the many years of failed oversight.

As we now know from the Freeh report, in addition to then-Chairman Garban, then-Vice Chair Surma knew, as did Broadhurst, days ahead of the release of the Grand Jury presentment, yet failed to inform the board. Is there a difference between that and what just happened in Russia where key officials failed to warn townspeople that a flood was coming? It will not be enough for those officials to stay and announce new plans to make sure that never happens again. The townspeople will never trust them and will continue in violent protest should they stay. Only new leadership can begin the process of re-building and healing.

These guys are at the core of the board's oversight failure and must go. In business, they would already be gone: leadership comes from the top and has ultimate responsibility for any malfeasance that happens on their watch. Barclay's Chairman knows that very well indeed.

I was also surprised to learn that just one day after the Freeh report made clear that new blood is needed, recommending for instance that outsiders be hired for key leadership positions (e.g., athletic director), the board did not apply that to themselves on a key governance issue. While the total length of service was shortened to 12 years, it was not applied to all trustees, and the retroactive feature that allows trustees of more than 30 years and 40 years of service to stay remains in place. Didn't the Freeh report make clear their view that the board, as a whole, abdicated their oversight duties? Why are trustees who were derelict in their oversight duties for decades allowed to stay? Not only is this bad for ongoing effective governance, this seriously undermines public perception that the board really "gets it" and is prepared to be as disciplined and tough on their own as they have been on everyone else. There can be no more circling of the wagons!

I am also concerned as to how the board will respond to the Freeh report since Freeh has effectively neutralized the board by his blanket condemnation of the board's role in this, and also because the report was positioned ahead of its release as the final word. It is quite troubling to me that Freeh could not interview three of the four key principals, distorted or ignored the statements of the fourth that didn't fit into the narrative, and made the worst assumptions as to motive and intent without any specific evidence to back those assumptions up.

I am especially alarmed at the glaring omission of any analysis of the role of the governor in all of this: his conflict of interest in being a voting member of the board after having done nothing with the Sandusky investigation for several years, seemingly for transparent political reasons, is as of great concern, as is his failure to alert the board of the Sandusky investigation. With fully ten members from state government on the board, all ultimately appointed by him, how could he not alert the board leadership that the investigation would involve the entire leadership of the university and board?

I think the credibility of the report is a serious issue, and how best to address this needs serious discussion by the board. It also puts a focus on composition of the board and inherent conflicts-of-interests: with nearly a third of the board from the state, when push-comes-to-shove, whose interests are put first? The state's or the university's?


July 7, 2012

Drinking the Kool-Aid

Yes, it seems the board expressed years of feeling frustrated, angry and powerless to rain Joe in given his longevity, stature and many contributions to the university. With the rallying cry of "remember the children," their own bloodlust combined with the crowds', preventing them from thinking through the consequences of their actions.

Why did the leadership of the board not call Joe that whole week? Had they already decided to use the indictment as a pretext to get rid of him? Is that why they were so disrespectful in how they fired him?

Surma's comment "We're not going to drink the Kool-Aid" would seem to indicate that. And that they also underestimated how many alumni had "drunk the Kool-Aid."

A good question to ask is if Joe had been in good personal standing with the various power brokers at the University, would they have done the same thing. I bet not.


June 22, 2012

Open Letter to the Board re the Alumni Survey

I must admit to a bit of disappointment that the board chairperson's first formal letter to the allumni did not directly addressed the findings of the alumni survey, as it seems the majority of alumni do not approve of the board's performance throughout this debacle. I think this apparent loss of confidence and trust in the board will not be restored by simply soldiering forward with incremental changes, and I strongly believe that the board needs to make a formal statement accepting their own role in this, give their 60,000-foot view of how this all happened, and what plans there are to safeguard against this in the future.

As I see it, the opportunity for the chair has been akin to what a new President uses his inaugural address for: to give his vision of the future, to establish his priorities and discuss his focus for the first 100 days, and to make a clean break with the previous administration's policies. It is a time of bold announcements and plans. But the window to do this is slowly closing, no doubt complicated by the timing of the Sandusky trial and the impending completion and release of the Freeh report.

I believe that much of what happened was a direct result of a culture that had become insular and complacent. While there is no question that even without structural changes, all will be much more vigilant going forward, I think structural reforms need to be put in place to insure that a new institutional mindset is effected and maintained long after this generation of leaders moves on. To me, it is reminiscent of what the attacks of 9-11 taught us.

Despite the first terrorist attack on the World Trade Towers back in '93, we failed to recognize its significance, that it was not just a "one-off" event; we did not undertake the radical reforms in national security that would have made the events of 9-11 a near impossibility. We have since made significant and far-reaching structural changes that so far at least, seem to be working.

We need to do likewise: to me, that means instituting a process of insuring independence in viewpoint and action, and accountability: a change in composition of the board, and bringing in outside blood for key leadership positions like the President of the University and Athletic Director. Lifting the term limit provision of July 1, 2003 and making it effective immediately would bring in a substantial number of new members not tainted by the crisis. This could go a long way to showing interested observers that the board is serious about accepting responsibility for their own failure in oversight. (It doesn't matter that you didn't know the kids were drinking in the house: you are still legally and morally responsible for the car accident they get into later.)

What the Board could say to us all:

"While the Penn State Board of Trustees waits for the independent investigation run by former FBI Director Louis Freeh to conclude, we have been actively examining our own role in the recent debacle and are prepared to take immediate steps to address our own failures in oversight and leadership.

In hindsight, we regret the role we have unwittingly played in allowing the crisis that has engulfed Penn State to happen on our watch. We failed to recognize what seems apparent in retrospect: that the university culture had become too insular and complacent to recognize potential danger.

While we believed we were acting in the best interests of the Penn State community at the time, the widespread feedback we are getting from our alumni, faculty, students and staff is the belief that we acted precipitously and wrongly, when we fired Joe Paterno. In retrospect, we agree that we should have allowed time for a thorough review and investigation of Coach Paterno's actions before making a decision that may have unfairly and unjustly ended his career in a way not reflective of his contributions to Penn State: accepting his retirement may indeed have been the better choice. However, until the investigation is done, and all facts are known, we must wait before considering further action." Much as we would like immediate action on this, time to surface all relevant facts is needed (which is what they should have decided at the fateful board meeting of November in '11).


May 11, 2012

PSU Alumni Association and Voting

What are we doing about the pay-for-play structure with the current alumni trustee voting system? That is, alumni do not get even a notice about the board elections, let alone a ballot, unless they are paying members of the alumni association (now or within the last two years), or if they have given money to the university. This effectively disenfranchises all the rest. Also, the prohibition on the alumni association from getting involved in any dissemination of information on candidates or getting involved in positions should be re-examined. It appears to be a one-way street for the university to give information to the alumni but not vice versa.


May 7, 2012

Thanks to the Many Alumni after the Election…

To all those who have stoically withstood my very long emails as I ran for the Board of Trustees and to the many who supported me and wrote me wonderful notes of encouragement, please accept my gratitude and sincerest thanks. I was and am very proud to work for all of you and for Penn State.

As the candidate who came in fourth, however, I must say that I am not at all disappointed in the results of the election, as it is a huge win for Penn State and all the alumni, including all of you, who are so impressive and accomplished, who contributed their time, their personal and professional resources, and who added their voices to the clarion call for radical reform.

I have been and am profoundly moved and inspired by the pride so many alumni have shown in being Penn Staters, matched only by their passion and commitment to fix what's broken at Penn State. I very much hope that you and all the alumni who have contributed so much in so many ways in recent months will continue to work on all the issues facing Penn State, not the least in finding ways to make an education at Penn State affordable while maintaining our proud heritage of public service as a major land-grant university.

As on the field, tenacity and relentlessness of purpose WILL make a difference, and I know you will all continue to be a collective force to be reckoned with, and will help give voice to the tens of thousands of alumni who remain committed to restoring Penn State's honor.

Congratulations to our newest board members, as well as to all of you who contributed so much: we have all won by getting three reform-minded candidates on to the board.

We are, without doubt, Penn State!


April 9, 2012

Open Letter to Alumni in Why I am Running

I have attached an open letter I am sending out to alumni about who I am and why I'm running for one of the three open alumni seats. Recent developments (ESPN exposé attached) make our votes all the more critical to radically reform and overhaul the governance of Penn State.

GOING FORWARD, WE WILL ALSO NEED YOUR COLLECTIVE ACTIVISM…

We must next go after the State to dramatically increase funding, now a paltry 7% of the budget projected to decline to a meager 4.5% next year (the national average is 19%). Students are drowning in debt, and this has to be our primary focus once we settle our governance issues.

WHY I AM RUNNING FOR THE BOARD OF TRUSTEES:

I decided to run for our board because of the terrible failure in both university and board leadership and governance that led to a self-inflicted crisis that very likely exposed vulnerable children to the continued predations of Jerry Sandusky, severely damaged Penn State reputation, and culminated in the unjust firing of Joe Paterno before any attempt was made to uncover the facts: it was a panicked response to intense vitriolic public pressure that was the very opposite of the leadership we desperately needed at that time, and now.

THERE IS A POWERFUL INSTITUTIONAL MINDSET AT THE UNIVERSITY THAT DISCOURAGES ACTIVE INQUIRY AND PUTS PROTECTING THE INSTITUTION ABOUT THE INDIVIDUAL:

  • If Sandusky's behavior was alarming enough to ban him from campus with children, why wasn't it enough to be reported to the authorities?
  • If Gary Schultz was "allowed" to retire and Tim Curley put on leave pending resolution of perjury charges, why wasn't Graham Spanier put on leave and Joe Paterno's retirement accepted, pending a full investigation into and determination of the culpability of both the university leadership and the board's own role?
  • Why did the board fail to authorize its own investigation when they learned of the grand jury investigation?
  • Why have none resigned when all of this happened on their watch? I have little doubt we would have be in the crisis we continue in today if the board had not failed to act and to lead.

IF ONLY THE BOARD HAD DONE MORE…

There are many other things that we all are thinking and talking about, like why the governor participated at that infamous board meeting of November 9th, when he never attended in the past. Was his push to have Paterno fired a cynical attempt to deflect attention from his own failure to inform the board about his moribund investigation of Sandusky when he was Pennsylvania's Attorney General?

Why has a board member who is a doctor with no sports administration experience been made interim Athletic Director with a salary of some $400,000 when Tim Curley was put on leave? Did that board member vote to place Curley on leave? If so, it would be highly unethical to then profit from that vote. It sure looks like the board is taking care of their own.

I also wonder why Erickson, who was a natural choice for an interim position, was made President. Continuity is important in the short-run, particularly in a time of such turmoil, but announcing a search for someone from outside the system might not only have been better for the university, but could have been an important part of a new board-issued mandate to shake things up and bring in new and independent voices while fostering objectivity.

Unasked, Coach Paterno, in keeping with his life-long commitment to accepting personal responsibility and the consequences, tried to defuse the explosive situation at the time, by voicing his regret and announcing his retirement prior to season's end. Yet not one member of the board, despite this happening on their watch, has seen fit to follow Paterno's lead.

THIS IS WHAT OUR COLLECTIVE DEMAND FOR CHANGE IS ABOUT:

Accountability for what happened. It's because the Sandusky matter occurred on their watch, and because they acted precipitously and wrongly in firing Joe Paterno, an act akin to shoving your 8-year-old daughter under the bus to save your own neck. You cannot make changes unless you accept that changes need to be made.

I AM RUNNING BECAUSE:

I care about what happened and why, and very much believe that the board needs new members who are independent, objective and fair-minded, who have strong beliefs in the importance of transparency and accountability, and who also understand that they have a strong mandate for purposeful change.

I know what abuse of power looks like, I know how to change systems that don't or can't respond, and I believe my collective experiences, beginning at Penn State as a student and as an athlete, and continuing in Graduate Business School, in business and on fractious nonprofit boards, have given me the experience, maturity, self-awareness, leadership skills and the strength of purpose that will make me your tireless advocate for change. I am unafraid of hard truths and of standing up for them.

The new trustees will have the wind at their backs with the outspoken support of committed alumni like you. I hope to have the chance to undertake that challenge and work with and for you for constructive reform with the ultimate goal of restoring Penn State's reputation for "Success with Honor" and position of prominence.

MY BACKGROUND:

Like almost everyone reading this, I am a Penn Stater, and was a three-sport varsity athlete who became the first woman from Penn State to make the U.S. lacrosse team and was one of three who were the first to make the U.S. field hockey team. I was also a Title IX and women's sports activist while at Penn State, and gave up my senior year of varsity basketball to help start the first women's sports information effort in the country.

I ended up going to Harvard Business School, worked for many years in business in various leadership roles, both in publishing and in financial services, and also started several firms. I am currently with a major Wall Street firm.

For over 25 years, I have also served on the boards of more than half a dozen nonprofits, including a children's policy and research foundation and on whose investment committee I served, overseeing a $100m endowment.

Perhaps most relevant though, was my experience as the elected Executive Vice President of a national sports association responsible for development of the sport and its Olympic teams. I ran for the board for reasons many of us are running now for the Penn State Board: I saw a long-running failure of governance, as the sport lagged in growth and in world performance, and I wanted to help get a sport for which I am passionate about back on track.

What I found was a dysfunctional board, an organization run by a rogue Chair and Executive Director without real input or oversight by the board, and later, a sexual abuse charge that the leadership refused to investigate. This is not the place to discuss all that we did, but it included changing the by-laws and getting a new independent nominating committee and strong new board in place, with the end result that after some years of intense effort on many fronts with a committed group, of which I played a key leadership role organizing and directing, both the Chair and Executive Director were forced out.

ESPN Expose: http://espn.go.com/espn/otl/story/_/id/7770996/in-wake-joe-paterno-death-sandusky-sex-abuse-scandal-power-struggle-spread-penn-state-state-capital

I can also be reached by email directly at barbaradoran4psu@gmail.com and welcome any and all comments and suggestions.


April 1, 2012

Open Letter to the Board

It appears that the widespread demand for change by alumni is not going away, and seems, in fact, to be gaining more momentum as they get more organized and more people find out about them. Penn Staters for Responsible Stewardship is expressly focused on the board, and has independent task forces to look at various governance and board issues from different angles. They are staffed by Penn State alums with impressive credentials.

To me, that means the board cannot just quietly do its work, with the same cast of characters, no matter how well intentioned and dedicated everyone may be. An essential part of the demand for change is focused on the current board and the desire to hold all accountable for what has happened: both because the Sandusky matter happened on their watch, and because they fired Joe Paterno and Graham Spanier without so much as talking to Paterno or conducting any independent investigation. A prosecutor's one-sided indictment was used as the sole basis for radical and cataclysmic action, and within days. Time alone provides perspective, and allows the emotions to cool.

It may be that the board was not kept informed by Spanier, who in turn may have been badly advised by Cynthia Baldwin, and could not act on what it did not know. It may also be true that things at Penn State had gone so well for so long that it is not unnatural to have a certain complacency set in (a la 9/11) that lulls one into accepting information uncritically from the key conduit of information, aka, the President, because he had done so much good for the university for so long.

What it points to, though, is a culture of insularity and complacency that no doubt developed over many years, and perhaps was always there; but as the board has ultimate responsibility for the management of the university, they cannot blame everyone else and not accept responsibility for their own role. The board has to come forward to say that publicly and also talk about what changes they want to make; those changes have to be large and as immediate as can be. There is much talk about about transparency and accountability from the Chair, who has started a listening tour, but I would go even further with a specific plan and immediate action.

Onlookers are very cynical, and while the board seems to think that their lack of turnover as a positive and evidence of their great commitment, alumni see it as a defensive, blind refusal to engage and take their share of responsibility for all that's happened: they see the board firing the leadership of the university and sacrificing Joe Paterno, but not willing to make those same sacrifices yourselves. (e.g., Board member Joyner getting a plum position -- did he vote on putting Athletic Director Curley on leave?) They see Erickson becoming interim President, and then made actual President, rewarding someone from deep inside the system. Continuity is important in the short-run of course, but perhaps announcing a search for someone outside the system would not only have been better for the university, but could have been an important part of a new board-issued mandate to shake things up and bring in new, independent outside voices.

Penn Staters primarily want to hear responsibility accepted, an apology made, and an action plan to change things for the good and for good.

What the board could say to us now:

"While the Penn State Board of Trustees waits for the independent investigation run by former FBI Director Louis Freeh to conclude, we have been actively examining our own role in the recent debacle and are prepared to take immediate steps to address our own failures in oversight and leadership.

In hindsight, we regret the role we have unwittingly played in allowing the crisis that has engulfed Penn State to happen on our watch. We failed to recognize what seems apparent in retrospect: that the university culture had become too insular and complacent to recognize potential danger.

If, for instance, we had recognized the seriousness of the report made to us in May by general counsel, we most certainly would have taken appropriate action then. We regret our own inaction, and are prepared to make major changes in the operating structure and makeup of the board as an important first step to reforming our own process to try to prevent anything like this from happening again.

First, we have formed a new governance committee that will be working with several independent groups to begin an exhaustive review of best practices in nonprofit board governance everywhere. The Board structure and composition was put in place in the school's 1855 charter, and has rarely been modified since; even without this crisis, change is long overdue.

One of those groups are the Penn Staters For Responsible Stewardship, a reformist organization that have been working tirelessly for much needed reform and whose all-volunteer committees are working overtime on various governance and legal issues. We have also encouraged the Faculty Group as they begin their own independent work on formulating the best governance structure for Penn State going forward. We are eager to hear their recommendations.

In the interim, we are changing the by-law governing the maximum term limit of trustees in an effort to encourage new and independent perspectives. Those who have served 15 years or more as of this year, which are eight in total, will be leaving the board at year-end. A by-laws' change in 2003 had grandfathered in all trustees who were already on the board, but effective immediately, all members will be kept to a 15-year maximum term regardless. They will not be replaced pending a full governance review.

In addition, Steve Garban and John Surma will be leaving the board to re-focus their energies on their respective businesses. They also will not be replaced for now.

While we believed we were acting in the best interests of the Penn State community at the time, the widespread feedback we are getting from our alumni, faculty, students and staff is the belief that we acted precipitously and wrongly, when we fired Joe Paterno. In retrospect, we agree that we should have allowed time for a thorough review and investigation of Coach Paterno's actions before making a decision that may have unfairly and unjustly ended his career in a way not reflective of his contributions to Penn State: accepting his retirement may indeed have been the better choice. However, until the investigation is done, and all facts are known, we must wait before considering further action."


March 31, 2012

About the 15-Year Term Limit for Board of Trustee members: a Little-Known Fact...

While our Board of Trustees has a bylaw specifying a 15-year term limit, it will not effectively be in force until 2018. When it was enacted on July 1, 2003, board members whose terms began before that date were exempted.

Term Limits: Term limits for elected members of the Board will be 15 years, effective with terms beginning July 1, 2003 or thereafter. This provision for term limits shall not apply to elected members of the Board while serving in the capacity as President or Vice President of the Board of Trustees. (For Trustees with terms beginning prior to July 1, 2003, the 15 year term limit is effective with the date of the most recent election or re-election as trustees elected by the alumni, elected by delegates of agricultural societies, and/or elected as business and industry trustees.)

Here are those who would be off either the board already or leaving this year if they had not been grandfathered in or exempted for those years of service as either vice chairman and/or chairman of the board: there are eight of 32 for this year, and another three who would be off next year.

Jesse Arnelle: 43 years

Joel Myers: 31 years

Alvin Clemens: 17 years

Ed Hintz: 18 years

David Jones: 15 years

Anne Riley: 5 years

Sam Hayes: 15 years

Carl Shaffer: 15 years

Paul Suhey: 14 years

Steve Garban: 14 years

James Broadhurst: 14 years

This might be one way to reduce the size of the board: using a hard stop of 15 years, eight would resign effective the end of this year. However, that does not take into account much-needed changes in composition.


March 31, 2012

Another Outlet for the Penn State Board of Trustees Candidates...

Because of the ongoing crisis and disastrous actions (and inaction) of the board and university, many Penn State alumni are doing everything they can to help change our existing governance and leadership structures and personnel. Not only are they/we continuing to pressure the current board of trustees, but some dedicated groups and individuals are donating their time and resources to helping all 86 candidates for the board have an opportunity to be heard and vetted by the alumni community.

John Schaffer, the CFO and Executive Producer of Undefeated Broadcasting (and the son of one of my Penn State lacrosse teammates), offered all candidates whose contact information he could track down (the university should offer to share candidate contact information as a public service) an opportunity to post their position statements, bios and a 15 minute interview that John himself conducted on this website:

www.goonshowpsu.com/bot-election. (Mine specifically is at http://www.goonshowpsu.com/barbara-l-doran/).

Thank you, John, and everyone else who is helping move us forward.


March 31, 2012

Why We Need to Change the Structure and Composition of the Board

We need a thorough governance review on composition, structure, and priorities for the Penn State Board of Trustees that looks at best practices in nonprofit, university governance elsewhere and to learn what makes sense for our distinctive Penn State culture.

Every board needs independence and fresh perspectives, as well as diversity in background and viewpoint to draw on. People who understand the culture but have some degree of distance are important to have on board, especially in light of the recent scandals which seem rooted in a culture of complacency and insularity.

Diversity should be a mandate, with diversity in background key. It means having representatives from various key constituencies (lawyers, and accountants, someone with real knowledge and understanding of public issues, a judge, an academician, scientist, 2-3 CEO's, a current one and one or two elder statesmen who sit on other boards, a religious leader -- from a national platform, not a Pennsylvania platform, and so on) and may mean more if you look at gender and race.

When you read the original charter of the university from 1855, today's structure was set in place then. The number of members was set at 32, with ten state appointees that include the governor, six members from agricultural societies, nine elected alumni, and so on. It is probably safe to say that the needs of the university have dramatically changed since that structure was first put in place and even without this crisis, is long overdue to be reviewed and updated to meet the needs of a modern university like Penn State.

  • Do we really want one third of the board coming from the state when the state contributes less than 7% of the budget? Who are also appointees and by definition not accountable and beholden to the governor?
  • Do we need six representatives from the agricultural societies?
  • Board members are elected for three-year terms but can stay for 15 years. Should we have a shorter-term limit or perhaps a rotation off for a term before returning?
  • There are only six women of 32 members on the board, yet 45% of the student body are women: should this be addressed in some way? What about minority representation?
  • Do we need 32 members when most modern boards range from 12-20 max? How responsive and accountable can 32 be?
  • What about open nominations for all positions on the board, even for appointed ones?
  • How many alumni should be on the board?

There is much to consider and to do, and getting the right board structure and folks in place is an important part of reforming the board and our governance and leadership issues. Just as important is acceptance of the need for greater transparency, accountability and improved information flow at all levels.


March 26, 2012

Penn State Mission in Jeopardy

With ten of the 32 Board of Trustees representatives of the state, including Governor Corbett himself, there must be much more that can be done to reverse the steadily declining state contribution to Penn State.

From low double-digit support just a few years ago, the state now contributes just 7% of Penn State's total budget, and even that paltry sum is estimated to decrease to a lowly 4.5% for the '12-13 school year. That is far less than the national average of 19% in state subsidies to public research universities; and tuition is destined to increase as an important offset to those cuts.

The land-grant university system was established in 1860 to insure that a university education was not just the province of the wealthy and the elite, but would be widely available to all. That system has evolved to become an essential platform for public research, critical to the U.S.'s economic competitiveness, with public research universities performing 60 percent of the country's federally funded research (with, incidentally, 80% of all minority students enrolled at research universities). Both missions are in jeopardy.

A report issued in January this year from the National Science Board sounds the alarm about the threat to the nation's competitiveness as Federal and State funding continues to decline for major public universities, eroding the nation's competiveness in science, innovation and higher education. With China graduating one million students in natural science and engineering in the last decade, more than four times our 248,000 graduates, now is not the time to make shortsighted cuts, despite the ongoing challenges to state and federal finances.

While cost cutting and private funding can and will help make up the difference, these are not practical long-run solutions. Tuition has been aggressively increasing over the last decade for all universities, so that total US student debt is over a trillion dollars, impacting both affordability and quality of education.

Penn State is an economic powerhouse in Pennsylvania, generating more than $17 billion annually in overall economic impact, creating and supporting thousands of jobs, services and attracting top talent to the state. It also has educated generations of Pennsylvania residents since its founding in 1855, contributing significantly to individual and collective welfare.

The Pennsylvania state government must recognize the harsh impact of their cuts at both the local and national levels, and re-prioritize their financial commitment to one of the largest public research universities in both the US and in the world. Given independent estimates that the state gets back $25 in economic impact for every dollar it spends on Penn State, it may make sense for the state to support that high return on investment by making more of it.

Both the board, with its outsize state representation mandated by the school's original charter, and the university leadership must re-double their efforts, both privately and publicly, to persuade both the legislature and the governor to significantly increase funding to Penn State.

A newly awakened alumni base, eager to make changes to the existing governance and leadership structure of the university, is an important group whose support and action should be enlisted to support this effort. They have shown that when the stakes are high, they are there for their university. And the stakes couldn't be higher: the ability to sustain the American Dream is part and parcel of receiving a college education. Let's make sure we keep that Dream alive.


March 12, 2012

Comments on BOT Statement

Although the Penn State Board of Trustees' tried in a ham-handed way yesterday to be more forthcoming about their actions during the infamousmeeting of November 9th, when both President Graham Spanier and Coach Joe Paterno were summarily fired, they only succeeded in showing their own hypocrisy. They now say they fired Joe because he failed to lead, while they themselves have never come close to doing what Joe did that fateful day: he spoke about his regret in not doing more and offered to retire.

It is shocking to read that the board now openly admits that they did not conduct even the most elementary investigation before firing them both. For Paterno, they said they "inferred" that he did not call the police back when he first reported the incident to Athletic Director Tim Curley: did anyone from the board actually interview Paterno about any of this at the time? Did anyone talk to Tim Curley? Or to Spanier?

One reason the board now says they fired Spanier was because he failed to meet his leadership responsibilities to the board, which included "insufficiently informing" the Board about his knowledge of the 2002 incident. Perhaps it is parsing words here, but the carefully worded phrase, "insufficiently informing," sounds like Spanier may indeed have disclosed it to the board, but that the board failed to appreciate its significance; if that is so, the implications are obvious.

This is how the board seems to have failed again last May when informed by legal counsel of the Grand Jury investigation.

Why didn't the board authorize their own investigation then and announce publicly their full cooperation with state authorities to find out just what happened that day? If the senior leadership of the university was testifying before a grand jury about an alleged sexual abuse incident that happened on campus involving a high profile former coach and a minor, how could the board accept legal counsel's benign interpretation without a second thought? What did they think would happen when the grand jury report inevitably became public? I have very little doubt that things would not have blown up the way they have had the Board recognized the seriousness of the situation then and taken immediate and appropriate action.

The board has never accepted responsibility for their own dismal failure to lead or to act throughout the entire crisis and instead, sacrificed the most beloved and respected figure imaginable in order to appease the inflamed gods of public opinion. We needed true leadership at our hour of greatest need, and the board utterly failed us, and continues to do so.

They failed in the same way they accuse Paterno of failing -- and fired him for it -- and yet, despite all this happening on their watch, not one board member has behaved honorably and resigned. Paterno tried to defuse the explosive situation by announcing his retirement prior to season's end, but was denied the privilege. Sadly, tragically, Paterno died soon thereafter, dishonored in his own country.

Joe Paterno should never have been fired.


March 11, 2012

Students Drowning in Debt

According to recent news reports, for the first time ever, Americans have begun to owe more on their student loans then their credit cards, with student debt reaching the $1 trillion mark. With the cost of college climbing each year 6-8%, that means costs are doubling every 9-12 years. The $28,000 that Penn State undergraduates are paying today is already beyond reach for many.

What can we do to stop price increases that far outpace the 3% inflation rate of recent years?

In addition to resolving the governance and leadership issues raised in the recent crisis, the Board of Trustees must make affordability of a Penn State College education a Tier One issue and focus. An independent economic study of 2008 showed that Penn State is the single largest contributor to the state with a $17 billion impact, yet the state continues to cut allocations to us, contributing a mere 7% of the university budget last year. The Board of Trustees, which oversees management of the university and signs off on the budget, must focus not only on cutting costs and reining in spending, but ask for and get much more help from Harrisburg on the revenue side. Students are already shouldering an onerous debt burden, graduating into a jobless market unlikely to change dramatically any time soon, and cannot be asked to do more than their fair share any longer.


March 11, 2012

Revamping the Board

The current composition and structure of the board was put in place in the original charter of 1855 (!) and has not changed appreciably since (see http://www.psu.edu/trustees/pdf/charter.pdf).

With or without the current crisis of leadership and governance, this should have been reviewed and updated for current needs long ago. For instance, most modern university boards have numbers in the teens: anything more makes individual accountability difficult. And why ten board members, including the governor, from the state? All are appointed, so there is no accountability there, and comprise nearly a third when the state contribution is just 7% of the budget. There are six members from the ag societies: that made sense in 1855, but does it now?

There is lots to study and review, and we should look at best practices from across the country and consider what makes sense for Penn State's special culture.


March 1, 2012

Ballot Position Statement

It is exciting to see the number (86!) of alumni running for Penn State's Board of Trustees, as it sends the unmistakable message that many alumni want reform and change and are prepared to work hard to make it happen. The recent failures in university and board governance and leadership, with their devastating consequences, need never have happened. It is clear that whoever is elected will have a powerful mandate for change, and will have the wind at their backs with so many dedicated alumni standing firmly behind them. I hope to have the privilege and honor of working on their behalf to help restore Penn State's reputation for integrity and "Success with Honor."


February 26, 2012

Personal Background Story

Although I grew up in a Philadelphia suburb, my mother's entire family is from Tyrone, a town close to State College, and known for its formerly stinky paper mill. My mother and her three sisters were very close, and I have vivid memories of the four of them sitting around my Aunt Millie's kitchen table in Tyrone during the annual summer vacation, eating Aunt Millie's famous mock turtle soup and laughing and carrying on into the wee hours. None of them had much money, but oh, they knew how to laugh together. Every so often, one of them would come to the bottom of the stairs to yell at all us cousins to quiet down and go to sleep. We, of course, were simply imitating our elders and carrying on secretly upstairs, giggling and having pillow fights.

My cousin, who now comes with me to Penn State football games, led us on expeditions up the hill on which they lived, where we would look at the gravestones of our family forebears and feel sad over the small markers of infants. We once got chased into the hills by the police for throwing snowballs at passing cars, but we had a head start, so they didn't catch us. (I have since reformed!) Swimming in Spruce Creek in the summer was a great treat, though we wore sneakers to avoid the "icky" bottom.

One thing I particularly enjoy doing now, is taking my now 86-year-old Aunt Millie to tour the lush farmland out in Sinking Valley where her father/my grandfather grew up and farmed. I listen all over again to the family stories that span generations, including how my early-widowed grandmother went to Penn State while raising five kids, taking courses on weekends for years, until she finally got her degree at age 60; and how my Aunt Florence was #1 in her class at Penn State. I love walking with her through a charming old cemetery from 1790, replete with Revolutionary War graves, at the Sinking Valley Presbyterian Church in Arch Springs. This is where my grandparents and many other relatives I never met are buried, including the irrepressible Aunt Florence. (Two of the four sisters are still alive: Aunt Millie and my mother, Marian, the youngest at 83 and who blazed a trail for women at Tyrone High School by becoming the first girl Head Cheerleader and first girl in the band.)

My mother will be buried there one day, as will I, returning for good to the land that supported generations of my family.


February 20, 2012

Why I Decided to Run for the Board

Well, I have to say that during that initial period of time, when the hounds were baying and closing in for the kill, I found no one who felt like I did. Living in New York city, I found that the knee jerk reaction and prevailing sentiment was to just fire everyone, that clearly there was an ongoing cover-up, that Joe retired Sandusky back in '98 because he knew about it…and so on and on. I would call Ira Stolzer, the head of the Varsity S Campaign for Penn State Committee on which I serve, to commiserate, and we felt like the Last of the Mohicans, huddling against the onslaught, and being accused of being Penn State apologists. That's why it came as a welcome relief to find, later on, that so many Penn Staters felt as I did, and is actually a big part of why I decided to run for the board. With so many folks feeling the same, there was suddenly a way forward to change things.

So here we all are, working together to do just that.


February 20, 2012

Memories of Student Days

There are so many good memories, and so many revolve around sports. I both played and wrote about them for The Daily Collegian, and also was the sole student leading the charge for equality in women's sports on campus. I actually covered the sports I played in, and got into a bit of trouble with the then-lacrosse coach, Ellen Perry, when I wrote what I thought was a very clever lead for a victorious game played at Ithaca: "Despite New York's 18 year-old drinking age, the Lady Lions…" (And no, we didn't drink!) I wrote about the sports I played in, a highly unusual and not ideal arrangement, as the The Daily Collegian editor refused to assign any reporters to cover women's sports, deeming them unworthy, and I was determined they should be covered, one way or the other.

I also wrote editorials in various Pennsylvania papers in support of Title IX (the landmark legislation that quickly led to the legitimization of women sports) and worked with another pioneer in women's sports, Mary Jo Haverbeck, who worked in Penn State's sports information office. Together, we started the first sports information effort in the country focusing on women sports and athletes. I gave up my senior year in varsity basketball (I never could shoot anyway!) to work with her to sit on the sidelines at the women's basketball games, keeping stats: I wrote press releases, did radio profiles of the athletes and started from scratch to help build public awareness and promote women's sports. The first basketball programs were single pages folded in half with basic player stats, (I still have those relics), quite a humble start to the multi-million dollar program we have today.

I do remember a lunch tangentially involving Joe Paterno with Mary Jo and her roommate, Jill Rattray, the women's lacrosse and field hockey coach (who subsequently led her teams to NCAA championships – we had no titles or championships to win when I was there). We were finishing up our meal, during which we were planning our next steps in the ongoing women's sports battle, when the manager of whatever restaurant we were in tried to hurry us out, as we happened to be sitting at Joe Paterno's favorite table and he was due to arrive at any minute. I, in mock indignation and with a mischievous smile, demanded to know if they knew who the woman I was dining with was: "THIS is the coach of the women's field hockey team, Gillian Rattray, and Mr. Paterno will just have to wait until we are done." Of course, we were done, and happy to oblige, but the point was made in a friendly way that field hockey was no less important than football, and that the coach was due as much respect as was Joe Paterno.

I am very happy to see that those early battles have been won and many issues settled, due mainly to a dedicated group both at Penn State and across the land, who stepped up to try to change the status quo and succeeded.

The same will happen now with Penn State's Board of Trustees and university leadership with the continued efforts of the mighty many, battling on many fronts.


February 19, 2012

Working for Change

Whoever gets elected must understand that they have a strong mandate for change, and should bring every bit of their experience, skills and will to meet that challenge. The new trustees will have the wind at their backs with the outspoken support and ideas of groups like Penn Staters for Responsible Stewardship and committed alumni like you. I hope to have the chance to undertake that challenge and work with all of you.


February 12, 2012

Transparency and Action

Because the board is charged with fiduciary oversight of the university, which includes setting broad policies and goals, selecting and reviewing the performance of the university management, conducting audits of financial academic and cultural issues, and considering all constituencies, good and relevant information flow to the board is key to carrying out their duties and responsibilities. It should be standard practice that all board members be fully briefed with all relevant documents prior to meetings, and be apprised and included in discussion of important issues by the executive committee in between board meetings. Agendas should also be set collaboratively.

Traditionally, executive committees act on behalf of the board in between board meetings, reviewing major issues facing the organization, and making preliminary decisions that will be ratified by the board as a whole at the actual board meeting. With easy access to conference calls and emails, however, there is no longer a need for this group to act on behalf of the board between meetings on emergency issues, and the whole board should participate in important discussions and decisions for which the whole board will be held accountable. Having a small group making decisions on urgent matters may be more efficient, but effectively disengages the board and can lead to poorer decision-making. This is especially important to change given recent events.

The board as a whole, and individual board members, should make clear to the board leadership, whom the board selects, and to university management, whom they hire, pay and fire, that they want full access to all relevant information. If it is not forthcoming, the board should refuse to move on any issue until they believe they have enough information to make an informed decision. A case in point is the firing of Paterno and Spanier: it seems no effort was made to talk to either gentleman, no investigation had yet been made to uncover the full facts of the situation, and the board would have acted responsibly on behalf of all concerned parties by accepting Paterno's retirement and perhaps putting Spanier on leave until a full investigation was made.

Transparency and action

I am very much in favor of as much transparency as is reasonable and full accountability for all actions. However, the public should not be included in sensitive meetings dealing with personnel, legal matters, or anything involving a person's privacy and reputation, and that includes the Paterno/Spanier meeting, much as I, too, would have liked to have been there to argue for a different outcome.

What happened with the firing of Spanier and Paterno seems to have been the culmination of a long-running and systematic breakdown of university and board governance and leadership that had evolved over many years, and reflects a rather insular and passive board, not accustomed to active inquiry. We need never have come to that point, had earlier action been taken, starting in 2002, and later, at the board briefing of the grand jury investigation in May.

When the university was first told of the grand jury investigation into an incident by a prominent former coach, that it took place on campus, and that key university officials had already been called to testify, the board should have authorized a full investigation to determine the university's culpability, and issued a press release announcing the investigation, along with the university's promise of full cooperation and initiation of their own internal investigation. It would have gone a long way to heading off the firestorm that ensued when this news came instead via a Harrisburg reporter. The board should have been seen this as moral obligation, not just a potential legal liability, to be accepted passively at face value. This seems to reflect a mind-set bound by institutional imperatives and operational concerns that can be changed.

Preventing inside-power breakdowns

As described above, each board member must insist on being fully engaged in all board business, and that means being fully informed of all business and issues that happen in between board meetings. The executive committee serves at the request of the whole board, and should keep the whole board fully informed at all times. I think the new leadership of the board understands this now, especially given recent events, and expect that individual board members, who have been under direct and very personal fire from many upset alumni, will also become more demanding and more fully engaged.

Making the board more transparent and the administration accountable

Although I think that that Spanier should not have been forced out without a full accounting of his role, I think the board made it clear that going forward, university management will be held directly accountable to the board, as they should have been all along. The board should regularly and formally evaluate the performance of the President, other senior managers, as well as themselves as a group, and individual directors.

I think the issue of board accountability is a real one, as the size and composition of the board mitigate against it. The current board structure and composition were put in place in Penn State's original charter in 1855 and has not changed substantively since, a rather astounding fact, given how much the university has changed since 1855. Even without this crisis, it is safe to say that the board as constituted today is not responsive to current needs, and a study should be undertaken, using outside independent experts, to look at best practices of other university boards and to recommend deep structural changes. The board is too large: at 32, plus all the emeritus members, it is easy for directors to sit back and be lost in the crowd, with no personal engagement or responsibility for whatever transpires, and to delegate their authority to the smaller Executive Committee.

There are also many appointed positions, which means zero accountability by definition. For example, fully ten members are appointed, which includes the governor, from the state: yet the state contributes less than 7% to the university budget. To whom do those members answer? A majority of the board should be independent directors with real diversity in background and viewpoint, gender, race, and religion.

The board also needs to have a way to get input from both the university community and the public-at-large, as well as be much more forthcoming in their communications with the public about issues of interest and importance. Meetings should be open to the public and minutes should be posted promptly and with fuller accounting of discussions and individual's participating. Board members should have their emails posted on line so that anyone can reach them at any time. An interactive blog should be established on the BOT website, so that all may participate. The university communications office should also be involved to help the board and individual directors communicate with their constituents. An ombudsman to take all complaints and issues should be appointed with an 800 number, email and private post office box and should report directly to the executive committee of the board, not university management.

The alumni should continue to demand changes in the board, full accountability and transparency, and should actively communicate their views to the board, to the university leadership and to the general public, so that all in leadership positions know that there is no going back to old ways.


February 8, 2012

Candidate Endorsement by PS4RS

I am very pleased to have received the endorsement of the Penn Staters for Responsible Stewardship, as I share their goals and those of many alumni to make constructive changes in the leadership and governance of the university. The board needs members who are independent and fair-minded, who have strong beliefs in the importance of transparency and accountability, and who are unafraid to stand up to each other, to the board and university leadership, and to the public. With the support of PS4RS and many like-minded alumni, I hope to have a chance to contribute to making those changes soon.


January 26, 2012

Previous battles

There is a powerful institutional mindset at work here that puts "protecting" the institution first at the expense of individuals, which in essence is protecting those who benefit in status and other rewards by their association with it. There are many questions that need answering, e.g., if Sandusky's behavior was viewed as dangerous enough to ban him from coming to campus with children, why wasn't it dangerous enough to report it? There is much we all hope to learn as the investigation continues, but there is also much we don't know right now.

I think there is clearly a problem with the governance at Penn State, and the board is part and parcel of it, as are the by-laws and way board members are appointed. There are deep structural issues and a culture that seem to have mitigated against an aggressively independent –minded board on many important issues, not just this one.

I was in a similar situation on another board, where I was the whistle-blower on a sexual misconduct situation that was reported to me by a high-level employee, which I immediately reported, but privately, to the Board Chair and Executive Director. They promised to investigate but ultimately didn't, as it was tied to hiring a world-class coach to turn around a failing national Olympic team. They hid knowledge of sexual misconduct from the board, potentially exposing young men and women to predatory behavior to achieve what they considered to be more important goals, that of elevating the team's ranking in the world. When I learned what they had done, I took it directly to the board, and a huge multi-year struggle and battle ensued that led to a number of us eventually being pushed off the board (I was advised by outside legal counsel to resign for liability reasons, but would not, as that seemed a clear abdication of fiduciary responsibility). Ultimately , the chair was forced to resign as was the executive director. In the interim, we got important by-law changes made, got the USOC involved, and tried to make many other structural changes, as clearly, this was and is a prime example of what an institutional mind-set in action can do. It sacrifices and exposes those most vulnerable to continued risk in the name of a higher good, namely, the institution, and to the benefit of the leaders who run it. Ironically, the people involved truly believed they were doing the best thing for the institution.

Having said that, I believe that Joe Paterno was treated unfairly and sacrificed on the altar of that very same institutional mindset that existed at the time and still exists: i.e., have any board members resigned over this? (And I don't mean that narrowly, i.e., just over the Paterno action.) I believe Paterno acted as he should have, by immediately reporting it to the Athletic Director, who then took it to the highest levels. What their actions were and why they failed to take further action will and should be receiving the highest scrutiny, as well as what it says about the institutional mindset that enabled that behavior. Why was the board not told about the Sandusky incident at the time? Was it discussed with the board leadership? If not, why?

How best to change that institutional mindset, that allowed the primary victims of all this – the children – to continue unprotected for many more years, should be the primary focus going forward.


January 24, 2012

The Death of Joe Paterno and Why I am Running

Like many of you, I have been very upset by the board's handling of the crisis created by the revelations in the Grand Jury testimony and have decided to run for the Board of Trustees in May as a result: to summarily fire Joe Paterno (and Graham Spanier) without any investigation, due process or consideration of his decades of contribution and commitment to Penn State was an abdication of leadership when we needed it most; ironically, they displayed the same institutional mind-set that Penn State is being accused of fostering: protect the university at all costs, regardless of what the facts are or may be. I find the rush to judgment of people with unblemished records of accomplishment and integrity unseemly to say the least, and more reflective of a sort of mob hysteria than a reasoned fair-minded response. The public pressure was intense and unprecedented in the university experience, but that is the moment when true leadership is necessary to maintain calm and order, to not act out of emotion or hastily respond to external pressure, no matter who it's from (e.g., the governor). Joe's death, before any restitution could be made, only deepens the anguish and anger that such a man died dishonored.

The death on Sunday of Joe Paterno has only inflamed already raw emotions, and rather than abating, the momentum to force change on the board is gathering speed.

While both chair and vice chair have stepped down from their positions in response to alumni pressure, it is not enough. At the very least, both need to resign, as do several others who have become the focus of alumni wrath. Many believe the entire board, with its unanimous vote and implicit culpability, should resign. Today, there will be a vote of no confidence by the faculty, and from what I hear, it may very well happen. What the consequences will be remain to be seen.

The board did not hesitate to sacrifice both Paterno and Spanier without investigation for what they saw as the greater good of the university, and should not hesitate now to do the same with their own. To do less smacks of the worst sort of hypocrisy and cynicism and even arrogance. The resignations should be accompanied by a statement that acknowledges that while the board may have appeared to act precipitously, it did so with the best intentions and greater good of the university community in mind; that in addition to the ongoing investigation of the university's culpability in the entire Sandusky mess, a thorough review of the board's actions is being initiated by the new board leadership, with a full accountability of their actions promised. An apology for the way Joe was fired should be made immediately: there is no way that a phone call was the way anyone, let alone a man who has contributed so much to the university, should have received such news. The then-chairperson should have personally delivered the message to Joe, and the governor, given his participation and influence at the meeting, should have personally called Joe as well. Needless to say, he should not have been fired at all.

With the change in leadership of the board -- the new chair, Karen Peetz, is a former field hockey and lacrosse teammate of mine -- there is a unique opportunity to begin anew and to make a major contribution to healing the university psyche that many, including myself, feel was further, and deeply and unnecessarily, damaged by their actions. Given Joe's death, I think there is a special urgency to this, and would act immediately with both action and word to mitigate the fall-out from this and help us re-focus on what matters most: moving beyond this and making Penn State whole again.

I am running for the board, as I dearly wish I had been there for the fateful vote, to at least prevent the vote from being unanimous. The board needs members who are independent and fair-minded, strong enough to withstand pressures from both internal and external sources, who have strong beliefs in the importance of transparency and accountability, and whose understanding of their fiduciary responsibilities sometimes means standing up to each other, to the board and university leadership, and to the public. As a three sport athlete at Penn State who went on to play for the United States teams in two sports, has been actively involved for the last four years in the Campaign for Penn State via the Varsity S committee, I am very committed to making sure we retain and build on the fierce pride and commitment to the school that Joe Paterno exemplified and made part of the school's gene pool.

There is no question, that WE ARE -- still -- PENN STATE.


December 4, 2011

Reflections on Paterno's Impact on the University

His legacy is much broader than just his football players. I have been amazed since joining the campaign committee four years ago by the transformation the university has undergone since my era of the early '70's. Joe set a high standard for the whole university, which has been internalized by the entire campus body. Graham Spanier also made huge contributions to moving Penn State forward into the big leagues of university academic excellence. I think the firing of both is a travesty: an incredible rush to judgment by a cowed board, which had neither the courage nor perspective to delay any decision making until the facts were known. They let us down when we needed them most.

They exhibited the very same institutional parochial, self-protecting actions and insular behavior of which Penn State as an institution is being accused. Who had the courage to look at the facts, speak the truth and be strong enough to withstand the public pressure until we know what happened? None of them, as evidenced by their unanimous vote.

I think their action inflicted far more damage to the university psyche than if they had exercised the true leadership needed at the moment. Instead, they behaved as politicians do, and said and did what people were demanding, rather than doing the right thing.

It is a tragedy of epic proportions. I wonder, too, if the board had been told about the grand jury actions. If so, it doubles my condemnation of their recent actions. The failure to recognize and prepare for the inevitable publication of the grand jury report, which key university officials knew would happen for over a year, IS an indication of their insularity and naiveté.

Ironically, Joe Paterno could end up a martyr of sorts, especially if his illness is underestimated.

With time, I believe perspective and reason will return.


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