Ryan Bagwell, who has repeatedly requested university records relating to former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky ’s child sex abuse case, announced Tuesday he will seek a nomination for an alumni seat on the Penn State Board of Trustees for the third time.
Bagwell, Class of 2002, has made 20 requests for records since May 2012, resulting in the release of hundreds of previously withheld documents.
As a result of his most recent request in December, the Office of Open Records ordered the Pennsylvania Department of Education to release 518 previously withheld documents under the Right to Know Law, according to court documents.
“There’s still a lot of work to be done,” Bagwell said. “We have to remember the board still has taken very few steps to be transparent.”
In an official announcement on his website, Bagwell wrote, “More than two years ago, the world tried to destroy the Penn State family. And our own leaders turned their backs on us when we needed them the most.”
As a result, Bagwell founded the Penn State Sunshine Fund, a grassroots organization with the goal of increasing transparency of the university administration. He said freedom of information has always been important to him as a former reporter.
Eric Hartley , a reporter at the Orange County Register, worked with Bagwell on The Capital Gazette, a newspaper based in Annapolis, Md. Bagwell worked as an education reporter.
“During our time at The Capital, [Bagwell] often fought with school officials. He wouldn’t take no for an answer,” Hartley said.
Hartley said Bagwell taught himself how to “arm yourself with the law” in his fights for records from Penn State.
Hartley said it was impressive that Bagwell, who is not a lawyer, won court cases versus the university.
While Bagwell believes the fact that he is an alumnus will not be particularly helpful in his campaign as there are already alumni on the board, he said he will advocate for alumni if elected.
“What’s upsetting to me is the way the board has treated the alumni,” Bagwell said. “It’s time to change that.”
The election process began on Jan. 15, when nominations for the election of alumni trustees were sent out to alumni. The nomination process ends on Feb. 25, according to the Board of Trustee’s website.
If Bagwell receives 50 nominations, he can be placed on the election ballot like all alumni trustee candidates, Penn State spokeswoman Annemarie Mountz said via email.
Voting opens for the alumni election on April 10, according to the board website.
Bagwell said he plans to seek the endorsement of the Penn Staters for Responsible Stewardship, a nonprofit organization comprised of Penn State alumni, students and supporters that aims to enact positive change at the university.
While at Penn State, Bagwell said he was involved in music, serving as founding director of the Penn State Jazz Festival. He now lives in Madison, Wis. with his wife.