Reform is needed
The Jerry Sandusky scandal revealed serious governance issues on the Penn State University board of trustees. Opaque rather than transparent, riddled with conflicts of interest among state officials with board votes, saddled with too many long-term members and largely protective of itself rather than the larger university, the board needs reforms.
Until the scandal the board generally flew below the radar of the tax-paying public that contributes about 7 percent of the university's budget, and even of alumni.
The board's ham-handed handling of the scandal and its acquiescence to draconian sanctions imposed by the NCAA have aroused alumni. In two elections since the scandal broke, six board seats have come up for election; four trustees have lost re-election and two others chose not to run.
General reforms are needed, however, and a bill introduced by Democratic Sen. John Yudichak of Luzerne County, at the request of Republican Sen. Jake Corman of Centre County, would be a significant step in that direction.
The board would be reduced from 30 to 23 voting members, giving each trustee a greater say in governance and reducing the possibility for control by an insular group.
To diminish conflicts of interest, such as Gov. Tom Corbett's when he was a silent board member while aware of the grand jury investigation of Sandusky, the bill would preclude the governor, lieutenant governor or row officers from board membership and make the agriculture and education secretaries non-voting members.
The board would comprise eight alumni-elected members, five Senate-confirmed gubernatorial appointees, five elected members representing agriculture and five representing business and industry, to be selected by a trustees' committee.
The board itself reduced its size from 32 to 30 earlier this year, but the Legislature should take up Mr. Yudichak's bill to make the board more open, efficient and accountable.