Having met less than a month prior to the Nov. 16 meeting, the Penn State Board of Trustees met again and discussed financial literacy, renovations for the university and updates to the recommendations made by former FBI Director Louis Freeh .
And, for a second time, a public comment session was conducted during the meeting and commenters had only harsh things to say in front of the board.
Eight speakers out of 10 potential spots were registered to speak at the meeting, but only six were present. Chairwoman of the Board Karen Peetz said the board was not responsible for answering any of the questions or comments asked toward them.
One speaker, Philip Schultes , told meeting attendees and the board that he encourages high school students not to attend Penn State before changes are made within the board. He said he and his wife were previously Penn State proud, but because of the board’s responses over the last year, they are not proud anymore.
Other public comment speakers, Elizabeth Morgan and Patty Kirschner asked the board to reveal the letters of intent or requests for approval regarding the hiring of Freeh Sporkin & Sullivan in November 2011 to investigate the Jerry Sandusky sex abuse case.
On the agenda for the regular board meeting was a report from the Academic Affairs and Student Life Committee , which was set to talk about a student debt and financial literacy program.
Vice Chair of the committee and Student Trustee Peter Khoury gave the report and said that it is evident the university needs to measure the level of financial literacy among students.
Khoury said he has talked with students to begin an effort to educate students on the debt crisis. He is looking to have an orientation for incoming students and their parents as well as online modules for students. All of this will be complemented, he said, by a potential marketing campaign.
Assistant Vice President for Undergraduate Education and Director for Student Aid Anna Griswold said that last year 66 percent of graduating students left Penn State with student loan debt. The average loan debt for Penn State is $35,101 , she said, while the national average is $26,600 .
For the fall 2012 semester, Executive Director for Undergraduate Admissions Anne Rohrbach reported that the total enrollment for all Penn State campuses and programs was 96,562 students, a slight increase from the previous year.
But, for the 2013-14 school year, application numbers have been down. A similar statistic to 2009 — about 27,000 applications — have been received by the university thus far.
A revised edition of the Code of Conduct for Intercollegiate Athletics was approved by the board as well.
Vice President and General Counsel Stephen Dunham said he supported the new code of conduct and that it is applicable to student-athletes, coaches and even trustees and students. Though the code is a requirement of the athletic integrity agreement with the NCAA, this is second to the university’s commitment to ethics, Dunham said.
Several of the committees spoke out on their progress of the Freeh recommendations that they were assigned at the meeting.
Senior Vice President for Finance and Business David Gray said there has been “steady progress” in completing Freeh’s 119 recommendations that were issued in his report in July.
There have currently been 46 recommendations completed, 13 ongoing and “many more in a matter of days or weeks complete,” he said.
Gray also spoke on points of plant projects around the university.
Upcoming projects for the university include updates to Old Main , air conditioning for Rec Hall’s main gymnasium and converting to natural gas at the West Campus Steam Plant .
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