My Priorities for Penn State
These are my priorities for reforming the culture of Penn State’s Board of Trustees. They were first proposed in January 2012, and they’re still valid today. Many were also recently recommended by Auditor General Jack Wagner.
Full disclosure of Freeh records
Release all records related to the Freeh investigation. Since June 2012, I’ve been hard at work to obtain Penn State’s contract with Louis Freeh, as well as other records that show the actions of university leaders behind the scenes. Though I’ve had some success, public access to more records are needed to allow the Penn State family to heal.
Freeze tuition rates, limit spending increases and reduce tuition overall
A year of attending Penn State is too expensive. To reduce the harmful effects of annual tuition increases, I propose freezing tuition rates over the course of an undergraduate’s career. In addition, the board should limit spending increases to the rate of inflation. Finally, we must set a long-term goal to reduce tuition by up to 30%. Harvard University’s program that offers free tuition for students whose families earn less that $65,000 a year would be a good model. Such a plan would also involve the substantial growth of our endowment.
Disclose conflicts of interest and reform ethics rules
Trustees, senior administrators and department heads should file annual financial disclosure forms that will allow the public to gauge the extent of outside influences on their decision making. Stronger and more specific university ethics regulations must replace Penn State’s vague policies about ethical conduct. Pennsylvania’s ethics law would be a good model to follow.
Put an end to cronyism
Prevent trustees from obtaining lucrative university jobs, like David Joyner’s $33,000-per-month appointment as athletic director. Replace the so-called “Business and Industry Trustees” with a new group of alumni who will be accountable to the voters every three years.
Reduce Trustee term limits
Trustees should be allowed to serve no more than two consecutive terms to avoid the same people reinforcing the same culture over and over again. Most board members today are limited to 5 terms, and many can serve for life.
Access to Penn State records
Support legislators’ efforts to make Penn State fully subject to the Right-to-Know Law. In addition, adopt the Right to Know Law as a Board of Trustees policy, with a few modifications that would protect employee privacy, keep certain financial information confidential and expand access to other records that the state law doesn’t provide.
Allow robust and vigorous debate
Remove board rules that prohibit members from conducting their own due diligence and asking tough questions that their positions of responsibility demand. Halt plans for the so-called “Lubrano rule” that will allow board members to remove trustees they don’t agree with.