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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2015 - 2016 Regular Session


Posted: February 27, 2015 01:33 PM
From: Senator John T. Yudichak
To: All Senate members
Subject: Legislation Reorganizing the Pennsylvania State University Board of Trustees
I am re-introducing legislation that would reform the Board of Trustees for the Pennsylvania State University. My new proposal, “The Pennsylvania State University – Commonwealth Act” will strengthen the storied 160-year partnership between the Commonwealth and the university and bring all our state-related universities under a similar governance structure.

As with the other state-related universities, the Penn State board would be composed of 36 voting members:
- 4 members appointed by the governor, with advice and consent of two-thirds of all the members of the Senate;
- 4 members appointed by the President pro tempore of the Senate;
- 4 members appointed by the Speaker of the House;
- 12 members shall be designated at-large trustees and shall be elected in accordance with the university charter; at least one of the at-large trustees shall be a student enrolled at the university; and
- 12 of the trustees shall be designated alumni trustees and shall be elected by the alumni of the university in accordance with the university charter.

The governor, lieutenant governor, Attorney General, Auditor General, State Treasurer, and President of the university are prohibited from serving on the board during their terms of office.

In the past three years, we have seen the Penn State board adopt structural changes in their governance and oversight procedures that contradict current state law. In addition, the convoluted and confusing method of selecting some trustees opens the board up to legal challenges and leads to a divisive, dysfunctional governance environment.

Reforming the Board of Trustees for the Pennsylvania State University will ensure that all our state-related universities have the same, clearly defined partnership with the Commonwealth and are held to the same accountability standards that come with a non-preferred state appropriation. This legislation is an opportunity to enshrine in state law the necessary reforms that will create a more engaged, inclusive, and accountable board at Penn State.
Thank you for your consideration. If you have any questions please feel free to contact Kyle Fitzsimmons kfitzsimmons@pasenate.com or Richard Fox rfox@pasenate.com in my office at 787-7105.

Introduced as SB800