STATE COLLEGE, Pa. - Three candidates endorsed by an alumni group supportive of the late Joe Paterno overwhelmingly swept the election for three open seats on Pennsylvania State University's board of trustees, dumping the incumbents and sending a strong message that the university's alumni are dissatisfied with the leadership.
But just how much power the three, supported by Penn Staters for Responsible Stewardship, will have on the 32-member board remains to be seen. For sure, it means those angry with the board for its handling of the child sex-abuse scandal involving former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky - and the subsequent firing of Paterno as head coach - will have a stronger voice in the university's governance.
"I think there was a feeling on the board that the alumni dissatisfaction was really relegated to a small group. Hopefully, this lets them know that it's not," said Barbara L. Doran, a private wealth portfolio manager at Morgan Stanley in New York who received more than 15,000 votes, the most of any candidate.
Results of the election were announced Friday at the board of trustees' meeting.
Doran, Class of 1975, said the new members would have a chance to work with the board on getting their objectives accomplished, including a reexamination of the investigative report by former FBI Director Louis Freeh that led to unprecedented sanctions against the football program by the NCAA.
"We can now fully engage from the inside out and not from the outside in," Doran said.
The other two candidates who won the three-year seats are Edward B. Brown III, Class of 1968, chief executive and owner of disaster recovery planning firm KETCH Consulting in State College; and William F. Oldsey, Class of 1976, an educational publishing consultant and partner in Atlas Advisors in Basking Ridge, N.J.
"I look forward to working with every member of the board, because that's how you get stuff done," Brown said. "And I plan to get stuff done."
Oldsey said the university made some "egregious" mistakes in November 2011 when the Sandusky scandal broke.
"Joe Paterno was the most important single individual in the history of the university, not because he was a terrific football coach but because he stood for the entire university mission," he said.
He said he feels "very strongly that the Paterno legacy has to be resurrected . . . in order for us to truly move forward in the right direction."
But he said he was not a one-issue candidate and had a 30-plus-year history in education.
Oldsey received 13,940 votes and Brown 11,503. The next closest vote getter was incumbent Paul V. Suhey, an orthopedic surgeon, with 4,521.
Incumbent Stephanie Nolan Deviney, a lawyer with Fox Rothschild L.L.P. in Exton, also lost her seat with 2,026 votes.
"I did everything I could. I wouldn't do anything differently in my campaign," Deviney said, wishing the newcomers well.
Suhey in a statement also congratulated the winners.
"It's been an honor to serve on the Penn State University board for 15 years," he said. "I am proud of my service."
Thirty-nine candidates vied for seats on the board, with more than 33,000 alumni casting votes. Trustee Anthony P. Lubrano of Glenmoore, also a Paterno supporter who won an alumni seat last year, will have more company on the board.
"I don't look at this as though we've won anything," said Lubrano, who was supported by Penn Staters for Responsible Stewardship in last year's election. "I look at this as the alumni have sent a very clear message. I don't think they're going away any time soon."
Penn Staters for Responsible Stewardship was formed in response to the scandal and has been highly critical of the trustee board.
The new members will join the board when it meets again in July. The board also announced appointees to several other open seats. Trustee Karen B. Peetz, president of the Bank of New York Mellon and former chair of the board, was reappointed to a seat represented by business and industry. John Surma did not seek reappointment. Appointed anew to a seat was lawyer Richard K. Dandrea of the firm Eckert Seamans Cherin & Mellott.
Trustee Keith Eckel, president of Eckel Farms, was reappointed to an agricultural seat, along with newcomer M. Abraham Harpster, co-owner of Evergreen Farms.