With the recent restructuring of the Board of Trustees, Penn State University President Rodney Erickson has extended his invitation to student leaders to now participate in four of the five committee meetings held the day prior to the public session.
Each student government association at Penn State – the University Park Undergraduate Association, the Council of Commonwealth Student Governments and the Graduate Student Association – will now send their president to a committee meeting in order to gain more accessibility to the governance of the university, according to student trustee Peter Khoury.
“There’s never been a better time in [Penn State’s] history where we needed student input,” UPUA President Courtney Lennartz said. “This [invitation] will provide an extra avenue to put student voice into.”
The five new committees – committee on outreach, development and community relations, committee on audit, risk, legal and compliance, committee on governance and long-range planning, committee on finance, business and capital planning and the committee on academic affairs and student life – were created this past semester due to the goal to create more access for others in governing the university, according to a released issued on Penn State Live.
Khoury said he “applauds” Chairwoman of the Board of Trustees Karen Peetz for her dedication to transparency, accessibility, and to the faculty, students and staff at the university.
The idea to add more student access to the Board isn’t entirely new to the university, though.
Director for the Office of the Board of Trustees Paula Ammerman said the three student government presidents have always been invited to attend the board meetings since the 1970s. Since then, the board has re-constituted its bylaws and “will seek consultation from representative constituent groups as appropriate in the exercise of its responsibilities,” according to the bylaws.
Four students, in addition to faculty, staff and alumni, have now been officially invited to attend the committee meetings upon the request of President Erickson.
The fourth student that will be allowed a seat in a meeting will be decided on a rotating basis between the two larger student governments – UPUA and CCSG.
“The appointments will provide fresh voices and perspectives on some of the most important issues facing the University,” University spokesperson David LaTorre said. “The Board looks forward to interacting with Penn Staters from all different backgrounds.”
Lennartz (senior- health policy and administration) said each year, UPUA and CCSG will rotate which organization will send an additional student to the committee meetings. Due to another rotation the two governments share – the Alumni Council which CCSG President Ben Clark will sit on this academic year – the two presidents voted that UPUA Vice President Katelyn Mullen will take the fourth committee placement.
Mullen (junior- marketing and public relations) was approved by the Board of Trustees and Erickson on Monday, Lennartz said.
Clark (senior-accounting) said come fall, the two student governments will write legislation of the exact process which will decide the rotation. CCSG will have a representative for the 2013-14 school year.
“It’s wonderful to have the student voice be heard in the rooms that directly affect students,” he said. “It’s a step forward for the board in moving in the right direction.”