HARRISBURG, January 31, 2013 — The Senate State Government Committee will hold a hearing on March 18 to examine the structure, makeup and powers of the Penn State Board of Trustees, according to Committee Chairman Sen. Lloyd Smucker (R-13).

Smucker said the hearing, which will include testimony from the Auditor General and Penn State Board of Trustees Committee on Governance and Long-Range Planning Chairman James Broadhurst, will allow legislators to take a closer look at the changes that have already taken place at the university in recent months and explore further potential improvements to the university’s system of governance. Additional participants may be added at a later date.

“The Board of Trustees is ultimately responsible for supervising university activities and protecting the welfare of students, faculty and others on campus,” Smucker said. “My goal is to gather viewpoints and perspectives from both inside and outside the university to remove any hurdles that may prevent the board from functioning as an effective oversight panel.”

Legislators from both sides of the aisle applauded today’s announcement and expressed optimism that the hearing would play a significant role in improving accountability and operations.

“I look forward to hearing from the many interested parties on this key issue and examining the findings and recommendations set forth in Auditor General Wagner’s report,” said Sen. Matt Smith (D-37), who serves as Minority Chairman of the committee. “I believe a thoughtful, bipartisan examination of the governance issue is necessary and believe the upcoming hearing can be the beginning of a constructive dialogue.”

“These hearings will provide a great benefit to the Commonwealth and Penn State University,” said Senator Jake Corman (R-34), whose district includes Penn State University. “Through the hearings, the public as well as the General Assembly will learn a great deal about the importance university governance plays in directing the mission of Penn State and representing the students, faculty, and community.”

“It is reasonable for taxpayers to expect the legislature to ensure the boards of our institutions of higher learning are operating as efficiently as possible,” said Senator John Yudichak (D-14). “I commend Senator Smucker and my colleagues Senator Corman and Senator Smith for taking up this important and thoughtful challenge of creating greater accountability in public higher education.”

A report issued by the Auditor General in November raised a number of concerns regarding a lack of transparency for the board and potential conflicts of interest for its members, including the role and influence of the university’s president on the board. The hearing will feature further discussion of the Auditor General’s findings and recommendations.

Smucker said the meeting will be the first in a series of hearings examining the governance of state-related universities. Future hearings will explore the Boards of Trustees at Lincoln, Pitt and Temple, as well as best practices for university governance.

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For Immediate Release
January 31, 2013
Contact: Matt Parido
(717) 397-1309

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