Should Penn State’s board of trustees appoint a special committee to deal with recommendations from the state auditor general?
On June 22, Eugene DePasquale delivered the results of an audit his office did on Penn State. It came with a healthy dose of criticism for the way some things are done at the university, including several areas of governance such as the number of trustees, term limits, the way business and industry trustees are selected and the public comment portions of the board’s meetings.
At Thursday’s governance and long range planning committee meeting, university officials discussed some of those issues and what to do with the auditor general’s recommendations.
Several trustees supported the idea of a dedicated subcommittee composed of members of each of the board’s standing committees to address the suggestions across the different specialties.
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“I think it deserves a bigger look by a broader group,” alumni-elected trustee Robert Tribeck said.
Vice-chairman Mark Dambly agreed, recommending a wait until the committees are fully appointed, something that won’t happen until after Friday’s leadership vote.
Governance chair Donald Han saw problems with that, as the board has not formed committees to address other reports and critiques. The university has had other challenging assessments in recent years. In 2016, Penn State received an unprecedented $2.4 million fine from the federal Department of Education regarding Clery Act violations and the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal. The university and the board took time to review before opting to respond by accepting the punishment three weeks later.
“I think the auditor general expects us to take the recommendations into consideration,” university counsel Frank Guadagnino said.
No time frame for that response was stipulated, however.
DePasquale has remained vocal regarding the university, however.
On Thursday morning he sent out a statement regarding the board election and impact of decisions on tuition, something else he heavily criticized.
“As Penn State’s board of trustees meets Friday to elect a new chair, I hope as they vote they will seriously consider the findings and recommendations of my recent audit of the university, as well as other recent developments at our world-renowned, land-grant university,” he said. “The number-one priority of Penn State’s board must be to make tuition affordable for middle-class Pennsylvania families. With the recent tuition increases approved for Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education universities, it is even more important for Penn State to do everything in its power to control costs so it can remain competitive and affordable.”