State House Sound Bites

Capitol reporter Mary Wilson covers Pennsylvania politics and issues at the Pennsylvania state capitol.

Auditor General urges PSU reforms

Written by Mary Wilson, Capitol Bureau Chief | Nov 14, 2012 6:39 PM
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The state Auditor General says it’s time for the Governor and the General Assembly to take the reins of reforms to Penn State’s governance structure one year after the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal.

The recommendations Wagner stresses most now are no different than the ones he announced this past summer: remove the Penn State president from the school’s Board of Trustees, make the governor a non-voting member, change voting procedures of the Board, and require the school to be subject to the state’s open records laws.

What’s remarkable, said Wagner, is that the present president, Rod Erickson, holds just as much power as his predecessor, Graham Spanier, and that so little has changed about governance at Penn State.

“It’s pretty much the same operation that existed on November 4, 2011, the day before Jerry Sandusky was arrested,” he said Wednesday.

Wagner’s latest report includes additional suggestions, such as applying uniform term limits to trustees, and changing how easily staff members become trustees and vice versa. Implementing all of his recommendations, said Wagner, will require a mix of legislation and changes to the bylaws of the university’s Board of Trustees.

“It’s time for the General Assembly, the governor, and the Penn State trustees to step up, to show leadership and take charge of reforming our flagship public university,” said Wagner.

Wagner says he’s spoken to the Board of Trustees chairwoman, Karen Peetz and other members, about his four foremost recommendations, and the one he said he sensed resistance on is the issue he considers the most important: prohibiting the president of the school from serving on the Board.

David La Torre, spokesman for Penn State, said the board just reviewed Wagner’s report and “will conduct a thorough review.”

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