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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2019 - 2020 Regular Session


Posted: September 29, 2020 07:52 AM
From: Senator Andrew E. Dinniman
To: All Senate members
Subject: State-Related Appointed Commonwealth Trustees
Due to the fact that they receive state funding, the  Commonwealth’s state-related universities have appointees from the Legislature and the Governor on their Boards of Trustees.   A recent dispute over these trustees at Lincoln University  clearly demonstrates the need to strengthen the statutory language involving their standing.
At Lincoln University, twelve of the trustees are designated Commonwealth trustees, four appointed by the Governor, with the advice and consent of two-thirds of all of the members of the Senate, four by the President Pro Tempore of the Senate, and four by the Speaker of the House of Representatives.  When Lincoln University President Dr. Brenda Allen’s contract renewal came up earlier this year, the Lincoln  Board of Trustees would not allow five Commonwealth trustees, appointed by the Governor and Legislature in 2020, to be seated, claiming they had the right to vet the nominees before seating them on the Board.  The Board, without the newly appointed Commonwealth nominees, moved forward with a vote to renew Dr. Allen’s contract, and her contract was not renewed, failing by one vote.  
Dr. Allen took the matter to the Chester County Court of Common Pleas, which ruled that the vote on her contract must be repeated with the five Commonwealth Trustees included.   After that vote, Dr. Allen’s contract was renewed.   Our bill will add clarifying language to Commonwealth Act,  stating that  all Commonwealth nominated trustees are to be seated and allowed to vote no later than the next scheduled or unscheduled meeting of Board of Trustees.
We hope you will join us in sponsoring this legislation.

Introduced as SB1348