The curious case of Keith Eckel
Rolling your eyes at trustees’ antics has become the norm at Penn State board meetings. But Trustee Keith Eckel, who heads the trustees’ Governance and Long-Range Planning Committee, took inanity to a new level with two anti-transparency comments that left his mouth over the last few months.
First, there was his Sept. 12 comment about why a consultant on future board reform measures should also be a lawyer. Most institutions choose consultants based on their expertise. But according to the Centre Daily Times, Eckel wanted more:
Eckel said he liked the idea of hiring a lawyer so the attorney-client privilege will apply to the work done. He said the lawyer should have expertise in nonprofit and corporate board governance.
Yes, you read that correctly. Eckel wants a lawyer solely for the purpose of making it exceptionally difficult for you to find out what he’s up to.
Then on Thursday, Eckel and his committee engaged in a robust debate about keeping trustees from doing exactly that – debating. Aiming squarely at Anthony Lubrano, Eckel warned the alumni-elected trustee not to criticize board decisions once they’ve been made.
“It’s not any of our individual opinions. It is the university’s position when we’re done,” he said, according to the CDT.
At some point, you’d think Eckel would remember Freeh recommendation no. 1.6: “Emphasize and practice openness and transparency at all levels and within all areas of the University.” From the outside, it’s hard to understand how he can’t.
But it’s clear that Eckel has no idea what transparency is, or has no interest in letting the sun shine in.