Penn State recently published a report on its progress implementing the recommendations included in former FBI Director Louis Freeh’s report issued in July. According to the status report — found online through progress.psu.edu — Penn State says 40 of 119 recommendations are “Complete or Substantially Complete,” 75 are “In Progress and On Track” and four are “Ongoing, with an Initial Step Complete.”
With all the calls for transparency we’ve seen over the past few months, it’s encouraging to see this overview of a number of potentially significant changes coming to Penn State. This information provides an important picture of where the university’s progress stands, about three months out from the release of the Freeh Report and almost a year since the Jerry Sandusky case first came to light.
And though almost one-third of the recommendations are apparently done or close to being done, it’s also encouraging to see that the university is not rushing to implement all of the recommendations at once. Penn State seems to be considering which ones are feasible and which wouldn’t make sense.
For example, one recommendation — No. 2.1.3. — calls for the associate vice president for human resources to be upgraded to a vice president position that would report directly to the president. But, as the report explains, the university saw “insufficient rationale” for shifting this person away from reporting to the senior vice president for finance and business.
The university agreed to upgrade the position, but the person will just communicate regularly with the president and sit on the President’s Council. While this might seem like a relatively minor point, it’s indicative of at least some reflection on the part of the administration in weighing what parts of the recommendations will be useful and what parts can be adapted to fit the university’s needs — instead of accepting all of them, no questions asked, for the sake of doing exactly what the report says.
Other changes being implemented are proving useful, on the other hand. An official with the Office of Human Resources said the university has processed 18,000 background checks — eight times the number processed last year — and the new system has resulted in a number of instances where people have either not been hired or jobs have otherwise been affected.
As with other changes like increased oversight of Clery Act compliance and policy reviews elsewhere, this points to a case where the university’s self-reflection as a result of the Sandusky case could point out deficiencies and areas in need of improvement that might have otherwise gone ignored.