Katie Jordan doesn’t want the governor to forget about the students when it comes to Penn State’s board of trustees.
The University Park Undergradaute Association president sent a letter to Gov. Tom Wolf this week asking him to continue nominating a student to the board.
The board includes a mix of representatives from different areas of influence. There are nine trustees elected by alumni. Six come from business and industry. Six more are elected by agricultural groups. Several, including the governor and the university president, hold their positions because of their offices.
Six others are appointed by the governor. They are on a rotation, with two appointed annually. The terms expiring this year are those of Vice Chairman Mark Dambly and graduate student Allison Goldstein, who was appointed by previous governor Tom Corbett. Goldstein will not be re-appointed, as she has accepted a position at Penn State — this action required the board to vote on waiving a policy at the May meeting in order to allow.
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“The governor’s office has helped give students an influential voice on the board of trustees by appointing a student as one of its six gubernatorial appointees,” Jordan wrote. “This tradition, a custom since 1971, extends beyond your leadership, marking 46 consecutive years and eight governors who have shown their willingness to act on behalf of student interests.”
The board will not be without student representation if Wolf opts not to follow in previous footsteps.
In 2014, the trustees voted on some reform measures, including changes to membership that added specific seats for the immediate past president of the alumni association, a faculty trustee and a student trustee. Luke Metaxas was named the first student to hold that seat in 2015. His term ends this year.
Students also hold seats on various board committees, but Jordan believes more voice is necessary.
“Students have first hand experience regarding the issues they and their peers face daily — what is working well at Penn State as well as what needs improvement — yet students make up only 5 percent of the board’s total voting membership,” she wrote to Wolf.
Wolf’s office did not have a firm answer.
“We are still actively discussing Penn State appointments with the Senate. Appointments are a collaborative process, and the Senate will advise before they are finalized,” press secretary J.J. Abbott said.
Last week, Auditor General Eugene DePasquale announced his audit of the university and urged the trustees to enact additional reforms, including reducing the size of the board of trustees.