Pennsylvania Auditor General Jack Wagner called for leadership reforms at Penn State in a press conference Thursday, recommending that the president of Penn State not be a member of its Board of Trustees.
On Thursday, Wagner sent a letter containing his recommendations to the leaders of the Pennsylvania General Assembly.
In addition to removing the president’s ability to vote as a member of the Board of Trustees, Wagner’s other recommendations include making the Pennsylvania governor an ex-officio non-voting member of the board, establishing a quorum level that reflects a proper majority of the board, as opposed to its current level of 13 members, and making the Right-to-Know Law fully applicable to Penn State, as well as the three other state-related universities, according to the release.
In his press conference that was broadcasted on PCN, Wagner said that only 6 percent of colleges and universities have their president as a voting member of their board.
“The question has to be asked, why does the president of Penn State University have so much power?” Wagner said. “Why is so much power vested in a singular person at the largest university in the commonwealth of Pennsylvania? The President cannot be an employee and an equal to the board.”
Wagner also made it clear that he thinks Penn State should be publicly accountable for its actions.
“If there’s any point I want to stress today, that’s the most important point, that Penn State does not operate in an isolated fashion," Wagner said. "It cannot operate in secrecy. Decisions made at Penn State are decisions that impact the commonwealth of Pennsylvania in addition to that university.”
In his press conference, Wagner also noted that the Department of the Auditor General has been working on its own report on Penn State for a few months.
Wagner’s recommendations come after the July 12 release of former FBI director Louis Freeh’s investigative report on how four Penn State leaders handled former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky’s child abuse. One of Freeh’s 119 recommendations was to “evaluate the span of control of the University President and make adjustments as necessary to ensure that the President’s duties are realistic and capable of the President’s oversight and control.”
The auditor general’s report is separate from Freeh’s.
Sandusky, the former Penn State defensive coordinator, was found guilty on 45 of 48 charges of child abuse on June 22. Freeh’s report said former head football coach Joe Paterno, former President Graham Spanier, former Athletic Director Tim Curley and former Interim Senior Vice President for Finance and Business Gary Schultz knew about incidents involving Sandusky and boys in 1998 and 2001, but did not do enough to prevent Sandusky from repeating his actions.