The Jerry Sandusky Sex abuse scandal has highlighted just how ill served the Pennsylvania State University is by its existing Board of Trustees. There are currently 31 members of the Board, only nine of whom are accountable to anyone other than themselves. The board is composed of people selected by their political allegiences, the worth of their portfolios, the type of businesses they run, and the proximity to the power centers of the Penn State administration- Penn State alumni, students, and Pennsylvania tax payers have little influence over the Board's actions and it is impossible to tell if the Board is subservient to Penn State administration or vice versa.
In his recent town hall meetings, Penn State President Rodney Erikson told outraged alumnae that they had a chance to change the make up of the Board through the ballot. This year three new Board members will be chosen- three out of 31; followed by an additional three next year and the year after. This is no way to create the change necessary to overcome the almost willful incompetence and cloistered thinking that has come to mark Penn State's response to the Sandusky scandal.
The governance of Penn State University is established through legislation passed by the Pennsylvania legislature. It was legislative action that established the University; legislative action that expanded it; and legislative action that brought about it's current governing structure- a structure that has shown itself to be unworkable, opaque, non-representative, and stifiling towards dissent or public inspection.
We are alumni and students of Penn State University as well as voters and taxpayers of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and are asking you to hold hearings in your respective committees on Penn State governance issues and to pass legislation reforming the Penn State Board of Trustees and the management and self-governance of Penn State University. President Erikson has passed this issue off to the Board of Trustees, and in all likelihood (if past is prologue) they will likely stop any effort at meaningful soul searching or reform. It is the legislature that can ultimately help to rectify this situation. As the ultimate trustees of higher education in Pennsylvania we ask you to take a hard look at this issue and enact the measures necessary to make accountability a reality.