Rep. Scott Conklin
77th Legislative District
Centre County

Conklin unveils legislation to reform PSU Board of Trustees

STATE COLLEGE, Dec. 11 – At a State College news conference, state Rep. Scott Conklin, D-Centre, unveiled a multi-bill package designed to increase accountability and transparency among the Pennsylvania State University's Board of Trustees.

Conklin said his proposed reforms are prompted by recommendations issued by state Auditor General Jack Wagner in the wake of the conviction and sentencing of former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky.

"This is about increasing accountability and transparency within a public university," Conklin said. "These are comprehensive and overarching reforms that we have been diligently working on.  

"This process began during the last legislative session and I will work with my colleagues in the new legislative session to get these reforms to the governor's desk."

Proposed reforms include:

  • Prohibiting the president of the university from serving as a voting member of the board, an officer of the board or on any executive committees, standing committees or subcommittees of the board;
  • Amending Penn State’s enabling statute to make the governor and the secretaries of Education, Agriculture and Conservation and Natural Resources ex-officio members of the board;
  • Prohibiting anyone who has served as governor or in the capacity of a statewide row office from serving on the board until four years after their term has ended;
  • Requiring the board to elect officers annually;
  • Requiring trustees to comply with the state's Ethics Act, including the financial disclosure provisions;
  • Reducing trustee term limits to nine years and establishing three-year terms; and
  • Reducing the overall size of the board of trustees to 22 members.

"In addition, I am proposing to make the state's Right-To-Know Law applicable to Penn State," Conklin said. "This is a public university and the public deserves full disclosure of how their tax dollars are being spent."

Conklin added some of the university's bylaws have not been changed since 1855.

"All else aside, to say it's time to update the current system is an understatement," Conklin said. "My legislation aims to reorganize what has been deemed to be an unusual, contradictory and conflicted board structure.

"At the end of the day, it's about providing the students with the best education at one of the country's finest institutions but you have to have solid fundamentals and that starts from the top down."

Scott Conklin

77th Legislative District
Centre County
(814) 238-5477