Governance changes are ongoing at the Penn State Board of Trustees. It’s already added a public comment period at meetings and imposed new 12-year term limits on members. In May, trustee James Broadhurst tells lawmakers the board will take up the recommendations of the Committee on Governance and Long-Range planning that he chairs. Those plans include changes in the status of the university president and governor, making both non-voting members of the board. But Broadhurst says they are not recommending a change in the size of the board at this time.
“There is no model or best practice that speaks to the optimal size or makeup of a university board of trustees,” Broadhurst testified before the Senate State Government Committee this week. Penn State’s board has 32-voting members. If it votes to change the status of the president and governor, there would be 30-voting members.
But trustee Anthony Lubrano fears the can will get kicked down the road until governance reforms are no longer a priority. “Membership should be reduced to a number that allows for the inclusion and active engagement of the entire board,” Lubrano testified before the committee.
For comparison, other Big Ten universities have much smaller boards (Ohio State 19, Michigan 9). “They have to be actively engaged… this is a $4.3-billion dollar enterprise… this is serious business,” says Lubrano.
Senate State Government Committee chairman Lloyd Smucker (R-Lancaster) will call additional hearings as he tries to find consensus on whether, where and what legislative action is warranted when it comes to Penn State governance.