Step Down Demand

Citing “Failure to Lead,” Penn Staters for Responsible Stewardship Demand Resignation of Entire Penn State Board of Trustees, Warn that Privatization Talks are Nothing More Than a “Deflection”

March 14, 2012 — Penn State alumni have withstood silence, evasion and untruths from the Board of Trustees in the months following the unpopular November dismissal of University President Graham Spanier and former Coach Joe Paterno. They’ve created petitions, assembled groups and held rallies to affect positive change at the Board of Trustees level.

Across the country, alumni, nearly one million strong, have been bracing for an upcoming election of three Board seats that would provide a small, but symbolic step toward healing and positive change.

Then came what many consider to be a tipping point – Monday’s “non-statement” from the Board, an unsolicited continuation of their deflection of personal responsibility for lack of knowledge and action regarding a legal case that was more than six months in the making. The board’s decision to unnecessarily thrust Penn State back into the national news for the benefit of their own defense proved to be one of their most reckless decisions, of many, to date. It ignited the ire of legions of alumni who had previously been willing to play by the rules, replacing three Board members at a time, according to current Board procedures.

“If only one person on that Board thought it was okay to release that statement, it would be negligent; but for 32 individuals to get behind their own public defense at the expense of the university’s reputation is egregious, and shows a clear lack of leadership” said Michelle Murosky, founder of the watchdog organization Penn Staters for Responsible Stewardship
(PS4RS).

“Since the Board claims to have removed Spanier and Paterno for ‘failure to meet their leadership responsibilities,’ then the same standard MUST hold true for every member of the Board of Trustees,” said Murosky. “We demand their immediate resignation due to failure to meet their leadership responsibilities.”

This same Board of Trustees was informed of the Grand Jury investigation, at the latest, in May 2011, yet failed to follow-up, failed to ask a single question, failed to launch an internal investigation, and failed to direct University Counsel to provide guidance. Instead, the Board of Trustees sat silent until the media firestorm of November 2011, then attempted to deflect responsibility and blame from themselves and their leadership to the Athletic Department and Coach Paterno.

“The notion that the Board of Trustees is the subject of a Federal investigation raises serious concerns regarding their ability to lead, and places a cloud upon the University,” explained Anthony Misitano, Co-chair of the PS4RS Legal and Regulatory Task Force. “In order to remove that cloud, and allow Dr. Erickson, the faculty, student body, as well as the entire University community in general to move forward, each member must step down immediately.”

“The fact that the Federal subpoena is so specific in its request for information regarding payments by members of the Board of Trustees to third parties certainly creates a perception of wrongdoing and casts serious doubt upon the independence of the investigation commenced by the Board itself,” added Robert Tribeck, Co-Chair of the PS4RS Legal and Regulatory Task Force. “While the normal process would be to permit the Federal investigation to be completed before taking action, this Board has shown its willingness to act without the benefit of facts and
the completion of an investigation in its removal of Coach Paterno. The same should apply here – step down and give the University a new beginning.”

Murosky added that members of PS4RS will be on hand at this week’s Trustees meeting in Hershey to express their ire and demand in person the immediate resignation of the Board. “The current Board may be tossing out information this week about their consideration of turning Penn State into a private university, minimal board committee restructuring, and whatever other topics may deflect attention from the most serious matter at hand,” said Murosky, “But don’t be fooled; the fact remains that the only decision this Board is capable of making at this time is what day next week they will all resign.”

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