A grassroots alumni organization with more than 2,500 members is looking to make the most of a chance to influence the three alumni seats up for grabs in this year’s Board of Trustees elections.
Penn Staters for Responsible Stewardship, a group recently formed by Michelle Murosky, Class of 2003, is looking to fill the three contested alumni trustee seats on the board with candidates of their choice.
The organization intends to vote out the current alumni trustees who were on the board when it decided to fire former head coach Joe Paterno without first conducting a proper investigation, Murosky said.
The incumbent alumni trustees whose seats will be contested this spring are David Joyner, Anne Riley and David Jones, according to the Board of Trustees website. None of the three incumbents could be reached for comment as of press time Monday.
Public Relations Coordinator Maribeth Schmidt said membership to the organization is through a closed Facebook group called “WE intend to vote out the Penn State Board of Trustees.” The group has seen a 30 percent growth in the last three days alone, according to an organization press release.
The group created an application process for candidates looking to gain endorsement, Murosky said. According to Schmidt, the organization has received a final total of 23 applications from potential candidates.
Schmidt said a review committee is now looking over the applications and will present their top five candidate choices on Jan. 15.
Murosky said the committee will be looking for candidates with leadership experience, skills in professional life, teamwork skills and good letters of recommendation. In addition, she said the candidates’ responses to open-ended questions about the handling of recent events by the Board of Trustees will be taken into consideration.
Using an online survey tool, group members will then vote for the three candidates the organization will officially endorse during the alumni trustee election, she said. The group will announce the winning three candidates on Jan. 23, according to the release.
Voting for all three alumni trustee seats will begin on April 10 and run until May 3. The release said that only Penn State alumni can vote for these seats, and the deadline to request a ballot is Jan. 15.
Representatives for the group will be attending town hall meetings conducted by President Rodney Erickson in Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and New York City this week, Schmidt said.
The group’s representative at the Pittsburgh meeting, Monica Thomas, Class of 1985, said representatives will be spreading the word that their organization is looking for transparency in the board, as well as listening to Erickson’s message at these events.
Despite the rapid growth Penn Staters for Responsible Stewardship has seen recently, its founder hasn’t forgotten why it was started in the first place. Murosky said that in the weeks following the breaking of the Jerry Sandusky case and the subsequent fallout, people felt betrayed by the university.
“People were hurt, angry and frustrated,” Murosky said. “Now we intend to achieve positive change.”