November 15, 2012
HARRISBURG — Penn State should overhaul its governing structure in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky child molestation scandal, with the most important step being removal of the university president as a voting trustee, Pennsylvania's auditor general said Wednesday.
Auditor General Jack Wagner had called in July for that and some of the other recommended changes, but the new report elaborates on them and extends into new areas, including board term limits, the granting of emeritus status and the ability of university employees to become trustees.
He said the suggested changes might not have prevented what occurred when Sandusky, a former assistant football coach, used his affiliation with the university to sexually abuse children. There are pending criminal allegations that high-ranking university officials helped cover up complaints about Sandusky.
Real and substantive reform of the governance structure is still presently not occurring, Wagner said at a Capitol news conference. It's time for the General Assembly, the governor and the Board of Trustees to step up.
He argued that the 32-member board is too large and the Right-to-Know Law should fully extend to Penn State and the three other state-related schools: Lincoln, Pitt and Temple. The state Public Official and Ethics Act also should apply to Penn State, the report said.
He said some of the rules that direct how Penn State operates — including having the governor vote on board matters — date to an 1855 law that helped establish it.
He would shrink the board from 32 members to 21 plus a nonvoting governor, and increase the number needed for a voting quorum from 13 to a majority of members.
University spokesman Dave La Torre said the report would be reviewed and offered the same response when asked about the recommendations that have been on the table since Wagner made them this summer.
Michael Poliakoff, vice president of policy at the American Council of Trustees and Alumni, endorsed Wagner's recommendations and said in particular that Penn State has given too much power to its president.