The Penn State Board of Trustees will meet beginning at 1:30 p.m. today at the Nittany Lion Inn , where they will discuss appropriations, an update on Former FBI Director Louis Freeh’s recommendations and the possible renaming of the Gary Schultz Child Care Center .
Public comment will also be allowed at the meeting for the first time in the board’s history. Seven people are scheduled to speak during the session.
Trustee Peter Khoury said due to the timing of the meeting, discussing the university’s appropriation for the upcoming fiscal year will be a very important part of the meeting and focal point of the board’s discussion.
Given Penn State’s mission as Pennsylvania’s land grant institution, it is extraordinarily important to discuss the university’s appropriation in order to request an amount that will allow Penn State to remain an affordable option for students, Khoury said.
Penn State’s appropriation avoided cuts and remained the same for the 2012-13 fiscal year, avoiding possible cuts when Gov. Tom Corbett signed the budget June 30 .
Penn State Spokeswoman Lisa Powers said the trustees will discuss the next operating budget and then submit the budget to the state as required.
The 2012-13 Pennsylvania Commonwealth budget includes an appropriation to Penn State totaling $279 million, which represents the same level of funding as the prior year’s appropriation, Penn State President Rodney Erickson said in July.
Erickson also said that because of limited funds in cooperative extension programs and agricultural research, cuts will need to be made in those departments.
Erickson commented on the relationship between the university and the state government after Corbett signed the budget and its effect on Pennsylvania education.
“This commitment from the state, in concert with Penn State's continued and significant cost-cutting measures, reflects the strength of our partnership as we work toward our mutual goal-ensuring the availability of a world-class education to students from all walks of life,” Erickson said.
A public comment session will be held for the first time during this meeting, Powers said. This addition comes as a part of “Board
Chairwoman Karen Peetz’s promise for more engagement from our community and transparency,” Powers wrote.
Thursday’s committee sessions — a part of the board’s reorganization following an early recommendation from Freeh — were also open to the public, a change that began last month, Powers wrote.
Public participation is a change the board has welcomed, Penn State Spokesman David La Torre said.
“The Board is looking forward to receiving public comment from the Penn State community,” La Torre said. “For the first time in University history, the Board has provided time for the public to give their important feedback.”
He said this is the most recent step the board has taken in order to be more transparent.
“Board Chairwoman Karen Peetz previously opened all committee and Board seminars to the public,” he wrote. “The Board has enjoyed working in an open, public format that allows the community to witness how it operates.”
The trustees voted to make changes in order to better govern the university and to be more accessible, according to a release issued on Penn State Live. The changes proposed were passed on March 16.
The investigative report conducted by the Freeh’s group was released on July 12. The board hired Freeh in November to investigate the administrative handling of reports that former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky was abusing boys. In the report, the investigators made 119 recommendations as to how the board and administration could better govern the university.
There will be an update on the status of the recommendations and their progress at the meeting, Powers wrote.
Khoury said the university has been continuing to implement the recommendations from the report, and there will be “more information to come” during the meeting.
The renaming of the Gary Schultz Child Care Center at Hort Woods will also be a topic of discussion at the board meeting.
Former Interim Senior Vice President for Finance and Business Gary Schultz was honored with the center being named after him in September 2011, after it opened in July of the same year.
Schultz currently awaits a trial in January on charges of perjury and failure to report suspected abuse relating to the Sandusky case.
Khoury said the Schultz center is under review for a “proposed name change.”
The website for the center does not currently acknowledge the honorary title dedicated to Schultz, but instead calls it the “Child Care Center at Hort Woods.”
On Nov. 9, 2011, the sign at the center was vandalized and then removed by the Office of Physical Plant, as previously reported.
The issue will first be discussed among the committee on finance, business and capital planning and will then be possibly reported to the board for a vote, he said.
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