Penn State's board of trustees will get some new members this afternoon, but not for the seats occupied by representatives of Pennsylvania's agricultural societies.
Board chairman Keith Masser, a Schuylkill County potato farmer, and Betsy Huber, of Chester County, both were re-elected to new terms during voting by agricultural representatives on Thursday. Huber beat out former state Rep. Jess Stairs by one vote, while Masser had a comfortable lead.
At the board meeting, set to begin at 1:30 p.m., the board is expected to announce two new members who represent business and industry. Incumbent James S. Broadhurst, chairman of Eat'N Park Hospitality Group, Inc. decided not to run, while incumbent Linda Strumpf was told she would not be considered, according to sources. Strumpf, retired chief investment officer of Helmsley Charitable Trust in New York, did not return a call for comment.
Board member Anthony Lubrano questioned the decision not to return Strumpf to her seat.
"We don't have a replacement for her who has the same skill set she has," he said. "Her skill set is finance. She understands PSU's (finances) better than anyone on the board."
Also to be announced at the meeting are the results of the most highly publicized race, that for three open alumni seats. More than 30 candidates have vied for the seats. Joel N. Myers, president of AccuWeather, Inc., is the only incumbent who sought re-election.
Three candidates – Al Lord, '67, former chairman and CEO of student lender Sallie Mae; Alice W. Pope, '79, '83 and '86, an associate professor of psychology at St. John's University in Brooklyn; and Robert C. Jubelirer, '59 and '62, former state senator and partner and chair of governmental relations practice at Obermayer, Rebmann Maxwell and Hippel LLP in Boalsburg – were endorsed by Penn Staters for Responsible Stewardship. The Penn Staters' group has been highly critical of the board's actions in the aftermath of the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse case and supportive of Joe Paterno. The entire alumni slate endorsed by the group last year swept the election.
But the group may have some competition this time from another slate, calling itself Upward State, which has said it also wants to honor Paterno but in a way that focuses on the future. That group has endorsed: Dan Cocco, '08, a management consultant at PricewaterhouseCoopers from New York; Julie Harris McHugh, '86, of Ambler, recently retired company group chairman of Johnson & Johnson in New Brunswick, N.J.; and Matt Schuyler, '87, chief human resources officer for Hilton Worldwide, from McLean, Va.
Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams also is among the candidates, as well as Bucks County native Ryan Bagwell, who has pushed for and received records around the Sandusky scandal.
Some candidates blanketed the State College and Harrisburg area with signs, almost as if it were a race for state representative or governor. Despite that effort, fewer alumni appear to have voted in this election than last year. As of Wednesday, one day before voting closed, 29,208 alumni had voted. Last year, more than 33,000 voted and the year before – the first election in the aftermath of the scandal – more than 37,500 voted.
"It's down but it's still high," said Barbara Doran, an alumni-elected trustees who joined the board last year. "We're in the third year. Time goes on…Enrollment is up and fundraising is up. A lot of good things are happening."
As many as five new members could be brought on to the 32-member board this afternoon.
The meeting starts at 1:30 but there are other items on the agenda before the election results will be announced.
Also noteworthy, this will be President Rodney Erickson's last meeting. Erickson stepped in when former President Graham B. Spanier was forced out in the wake of the scandal. New president Eric J. Barron, former head of Florida State University, starts on Monday.
I'll be live tweeting the meeting. @ssnyderinq