Why I didn’t seek the PS4RS endorsement

Published March 2, 2014

Yesterday, Penn Staters for Responsible Stewardship chose six candidates to vie for its coveted 2014 endorsement. They were chosen from among a pool of 15 applicants which I was not a part of. That’s because I ultimately decided not to seek the endorsement.

The reason for my decision was pretty simple. A series of events led me to believe that no matter how hard I’ve worked to bring new facts to light, I would never be chosen as a PS4RS finalist.

My hope for the group’s backing was buoyed early on when an influential figure quietly asked his network of supporters to nominate me. But as the nomination period wore on, support from a few elite alumni coalesced around a slate of Robert Jubelirer, Alice Pope and Albert Lord. And by the end of January, the individual who originally backed me changed his mind and threw his support behind those three candidates.

Some additional developments went on behind the scenes that made the message loud and clear: the most powerful wanted their slate to succeed, and because of that, I would not be chosen as a finalist.

My decision had absolutely nothing to do with past disagreements with the PS4RS leadership. I generally support the group’s mission – especially its goal of being a watchdog for alumni (something the actual alumni association should do, but I won’t get started). To show my support, I even made a $250 donation to the group a few months ago.

But in the end, the politics weren’t right, and I simply believed that applying would do more harm than good.

Those who believe this decision put the nail in my campaign’s coffin couldn’t be more wrong. No other candidate has done more to make the board more transparent. Nobody has worked harder to find the answers that we demand. You will not find another candidate who believes more strongly in the benefits of openness and honesty. My record speaks for itself, and I am very proud to run on that alone.

Since they can’t blast my record, critics will say I’m “more effective off the board.” They will attempt to paint me as weak, too young (I’ll be 35 on March 30), and as somebody who can’t “stand up” to a big, bad, scary CEO. They’ve been saying it for two years, even while I’ve proven them wrong over and over again.

Folks, this is serious business. Penn State General Counsel Steve Dunham is waging a war against those who have the audacity to seek information. He has dispatched his troops to battle me in court. He himself has directed other staffers to prohibit trustees from obtaining their own conflict of interest forms. He, and the administration he controls, is the real target, and we cannot allow our mission to be distracted by ridiculous claims that are wholly without merit.

The Penn State Sunshine Fund is making tremendous progress. But attacking the problem from the outside will never be as effective as attacking it from within. I need your help to finish what I’ve started.

  • Lion In The Midwest

    Ryan, you’ve got one vote.

  • Joe McCann

    Make that two.

  • RaconsMom

    Make that three…

  • PhiPsiMom

    You have my vote too.

  • Denise

    I’m definitely behind you. You have my vote.

  • David Lection

    Ryan, You’ve got my vote.

  • tratoor

    If enough people vote ONLY for Ryan he has a better chance of getting in. People don’t understand this. Adults mess it up in elections all the time. If you vote only for your best choice, he/she just picked up 3 votes.

    • James Fennessy

      I am truly thankful for Ryan’s reform efforts. I wish him luck and success in the election. But, I disagree with the notion of casting only one vote to improve the odds for Ryan. Voting Joel Myers out is as important as voting Ryan in. Myers declared that his election is a referendum on the Board’s direction. Myers getting reelected will be trumpeted as our endorsement of the old board and our moving on. If you do not like what the BoT has done for the last few years, then vote for three reform candidates.

  • Bill_Levinson

    My position was that your actions re: the Sunshine Fund earned you one of the three PS4RS endorsements.

  • Jacques Bonet

    You got my vote. You have been working out in the open (instead of behind the scenes) for a long time. In my view “Actions are more important than words/promises.

  • Devon

    You shouldn’t have sought the PS4RS endorsement not because you weren’t going to get it, but because they didn’t deserve you, Ryan.