As the Board of Trustees’ election approaches, the Penn Staters for Responsible Stewardship hopes to make an impact on the governing body’s contested makeup.
Formed in November 2011, PS4RS is currently running an endorsement process for alumni trustees, the organization’s spokeswoman Maribeth Schmidt said.
Schmidt said PS4RS was organized following “the decision to fire coach Paterno and the subsequent poor leadership decisions that were made by the trustees.” The organization’s primary objective, she added, is to ensure that the incumbents do not retain their seats.
“It became our mission to replace every single trustee who was in the boardroom during November 2011 because they have refused to take responsibility for any of the actions or inactions they have made or while on their watch,” she said.
Schmidt specifically pointed to the removal of current trustees Paul Suhey and Stephanie Deviney, adding that the election process is the only means to do so.
Suhey and Deviney could not be reached for comment as of press time Monday.
Schmidt said there is currently a pool of at least 60 candidates vying for a position on the board. Once candidates express interest by contacting the organization, they receive a questionnaire, which tries to address criteria that PS4RS deems important in a new trustee.
Responsible for creating this questionnaire, a committee comprised of seven members will determine the top six candidates. The PS4RS membership will then proceed to vote on the top six in an online primary election during the week of March 25. The result of the primary will thereby award the top three a 2013 PS4RS endorsement, and they will later be featured on the organization’s website.
“Our goal is to put truthful and trustworthy leadership in the Board of Trustees,” Schmidt said.
Though this endorsement process was conducted last year as “a first go-around,” Schmidt said it was met with a sense of haste.
“We had a very compressed time frame, so we were making a lot of quick decisions,” she said.
After receiving a year’s worth of members’ feedback, PS4RS has been able to make improvements for this year, she said. Also, the organization’s membership has grown to more than 15,000 members.
Former PS4RS endorsements include current trustee Anthony Lubrano and Barbara Doran, who came in fourth last year. Current trustee Ryan McCombie was one of the top six last year, as well.
While some trustees may hold very impressive credentials, Schmidt said such are tied with time commitments to their careers. She further said a lot of the poor leadership decisions stem from people who don’t have the time to invest in the university.
“We definitely want to see trustees who value openness and transparency, trustees who aren’t afraid to question the way things have been done in the past, trustees who have the appropriate amount of time to dedicate to the effort,” she added.
Lubrano said via email he found the endorsement process “worthwhile” and encourages all candidates to seek the endorsement.
“Unquestionably, having an endorsement by PS4RS greatly aided my election chances, and I am grateful to the many alumni for their support,” he said. “As the largest grassroots watchdog group in the Penn State community, PS4RS has developed tremendous credibility over the past 15 months. One’s chances of election increase with the group’s endorsement.”
University spokesman David La Torre said he did not have a comment on the matter.
Schmidt said the three candidates who will be awarded the PS4RS endorsement will be announced to the media and members on April 1.