Erickson saying the right things

Published January 12, 2012

In today’s Philadelphia Inquirer story, I was pleased to see some movement in the right direction from Penn State President Rodney Erickson.

Writing about public access to records, Reporter Susan Snyder wrote that Erickson promised to “provide anything not prevented by law, contract language, or privacy rights.”

And Synder quoted Erickson as saying this:

“The board is going through a period of introspection right now with respect to how they’re organized and how they intersect with the administration,” and looking at how “the whole process of governance can be made more effective.”

Erickson’s attitude toward access to Penn State records is similar to what I recently proposed, and I support his tack. But an unwritten presidential declaration doesn’t go far enough. This needs to be codified in a Board of Trustees policy for his ideas to have any real teeth.

And I’m glad to hear the board is examining it’s structure, but it may not be for the better. We already know that board President Steve Garban and Vice President John Surma want to consolidate the board’s power even more. We also know they’re trying to reappoint almost every member of the powerful executive committee.

But what disappoints me the most is the continuance of the board’s silence about its activities. Casual statements to the media are fine, but Garban should be speaking out himself instead of making Erickson do his bidding. He, Surma and the other trustees need to start talking about how they’re going to repair their fractured relationship with the Penn State family.

Note this interesting bit: the agenda for the trustee’s Jan. 20 meeting lists an item called “Announcements by the Chairman of the Board of Trustees.” It’s listed just before members are supposed to elect a new board officers. Maybe we’ll hear something from Garban at that time. Fingers crossed.