WEST CHESTER (February 1) – State Senator Andy Dinniman said Penn State’s leadership structure must be more responsive and accountable and has introduced a bill that would decrease the size of its Board of Trustees from 32 members to 21.
Dinniman said the recent events at Penn State involving child sex abuse have also shown the need for the university’s board to be more independent and clearly above the university’s administration, so his bill would also remove the position of university president from the Penn State Board of Trustees.
Dinniman is a Penn State alumnus. He graduated in 1978 with a doctoral degree in education.
“My bill is designed to assure a government board fit and proper for one of the great universities of our nation and indeed the world. I take great pride in my alma mater and like others have been hurt by the events of the past couple years” Dinniman said. “But it would be an even greater shame if we do not learn from the mistakes that were made and if we do not take this opportunity to change and strengthen how the university operates.
“The change has to start at the top,” Dinniman continued. “Penn State’s leadership must be responsive all the time and especially in times of crises. And as minority chairman of the Senate Education Committee, I know Penn State leadership must also be responsive to changes in higher education if it is to keep offering its students an education that is affordable today and of great value tomorrow.
“Streamlining Penn State’s Board of Trustees will help on both fronts,” Dinniman added. “Having too many bosses does not work in the business world, and it does not work in the academic world, either. Thirty-two people on the university’s Board of Trustees are too many bosses.”
Senator Dinniman’s bill will also do the following:
- Reduce the allotment of members on the board that the governor appoints (from 6 to 4) and the three representative groups elect: alumni (from 9 to 6), county agricultural societies (from 6 to 4) and business and industry groups (from 6 to 4).
- Change the status of the governor from a voting to a non-voting member.
- Prohibit the president of the university from serving as a trustee, as the secretary or other officer of the board or on any committees of the board.
- Clarify that emeriti board members are honorary and do not have the right to vote or participate in board discussions in the same way as statutory board members.
- Change the quorum requirement from 7 voting members to a majority of voting members (11 of 21).
- Put Penn State’s board and administration under the Public Official and Employee Ethics Act.