Penn State Trustees approve changes to impact governance of University

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Penn State’s Board of Trustees adopted structural changes to their governance and oversight procedures today (May 3), as recommended by the Committee on Governance and Long-Range Planning, taking suggestions from the Pennsylvania Auditor General, the Middle States Accreditation Commission and the Freeh Group.

“This review is, in fact, a work in progress. The charter, bylaws and standing orders of the University are not static, nor are they intended to be,” said James Broadhurst, the committee chair. “In fact, we’ve made revisions or changes to those documents more than 20 times in the past 12 years.”

Broadhurst discussed the most significant newly adopted reforms, most of which were spelled out at the March Trustees meeting during the committee’s public session:

— The governor of Pennsylvania and president of the University now serve as ex officio non-voting members of the board. Previously, both had voting rights.
— The president no longer holds the positions of secretary of the board; the secretary will now be an elected position.
— Three-year term limits were extended from elected trustees, to all trustees (appointed and elected) other than ex officio members. Term limits for Trustees (other than ex officio Trustees) will be 12 consecutive years, effective with terms beginning July 1, 2013, or after.
— The number of voting Trustees is reduced to 30: nine trustees are elected by alumni; six trustees are appointed by the governor; six trustees are elected by organized agricultural societies in the state; six trustees represent business and industry endeavors and are elected by the Board of Trustees; and three trustees are ex-officio members that include the Secretary of Education, the Secretary of Agriculture and the Secretary of Conservation and Natural Resources of the Commonwealth.
— Previously, the provision for term limits did not apply to the chair or vice chair of the board, but that exception was removed for the vice chair position.
— The waiting period for former University employees to serve on the board was extended from three to five years.
— There is now a five-year waiting period for Commonwealth “row officers” to become trustees.
— A section describing the necessary process for the removal of a trustee, if need be, was added.
— The quorum requirement was modified from 13 to a majority of the voting members.
— Selection of the Executive Committee (comprised of 13 members) is now specified to chairs of each of the newly formed six standing committees, the chair and vice chair of the board, the chair of the Board of Directors of the Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, the immediate past chair of the Board of Trustees and three at-large members nominated by the Governance and Long-Range Planning Committee and elected by the Board of Trustees.

— The board also strengthened its comprehensive conflict of interest policy.
Broadhurst noted that the board implemented other changes in the past year, including the expansion of the committee structure from three to six standing committees plus the Executive Committee, as well as four subcommittees; refinements of term limits; increased constituent representation at committee meetings, including faculty, staff and students; opportunities for public comment at the meetings and an established hotline so anyone can communicate with the board; and hiring a University director of Ethics and Compliance with a dual-reporting relationship to the Board of Trustees and the senior vice president for Finance and Business.

“With these collective changes, practically all of the auditor general’s recommendations and to the extent they relate to the organizational documents, the Freeh Group’s recommendations, have been dealt with in whole or in part,” Broadhurst said.

The Board of Trustees website at psu.edu/trustees has full details of the Charter, Bylaws and Standing Orders.

Employee training for child abuse prevention and reporting now online

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Penn State's professional program designed to help individuals recognize and report suspected child abuse is now available online for University employees.

Approximately 3,500 employees have completed the "Reporting Child Abuse" program since it went live on Feb. 28. In addition, more than 11,000 people also have completed Penn State's face-to-face training for identifying and preventing abuse.

Last spring, Penn State finalized a new administrative policy,  AD-72, "Reporting Suspected Child Abuse," to provide guidance to University employees regarding mandated reporting requirements according to the University and the Pennsylvania Child Protective Services Law. The policy requires that all University employees complete the training each calendar year.

Currently the online training is available for University employees only, noted Susan Cromwell, director of workplace learning and performance in Penn State's Office of Human Resources. Training availability will be expanded to include volunteers and students by the end of May. “In the interim we will continue to offer live training for these groups until all training is online,” she said.

Once fully implemented, the online program will replace the live, face-to-face training. However, face-to-face sessions can still be requested and used in specialized circumstances, noted Susan Basso, vice president for Human Resources.

More than 11,000 authorized adults -- employees or volunteers who have responsibility for minors -- have completed face-to-face training. The University began live sessions last April to address an immediate need to train authorized adults who would be working with children at numerous summer camps and workshops at University Park and other Penn State campuses across the Commonwealth.

According to Cromwell, the online format greatly simplifies delivery of the training.

"It's much more accessible," she said. "Employees, volunteers and students will be able to take the training at their convenience, and we can accurately track all individuals who have been trained. Also, if the law or information changes at any time, we can easily make updates."

The program is part of Penn State's initiative to help ensure a safe community for children, with the goal of educating the University community about child abuse and reporting. The program is intended to move people from not only awareness of the issue but toward having the confidence to take action, Basso said.

The training is required for all University employees at every campus location, with the exception of Penn State Hershey Medical Center/College of Medicine, University Health Services and the client representation clinics of the Dickinson School of Law. Each of those units follow the policies and training appropriate to its own unique activities.

Penn State continues work toward meeting Freeh recommendations

The University today (March 26) provided another update on the progress being made in meeting most of the 119 recommendations spelled out in a report by the Freeh Group, a consultant group hired in November 2011 to conduct an independent investigation of the University's response to allegations of sexual abuse committed by former Penn State assistant coach Jerry Sandusky. 

Led by former FBI director and federal Judge Louis Freeh, the investigation identified 119 recommendations to improve Penn State's responses in the areas of safety and governance. To date, the University has implemented a majority of those recommendations, with a substantial portion being completed or in the works. The University intends to have all appropriate Freeh recommendations completed by the end of 2013.

Penn State officials have posted a complete status update here that provides changes and steps forward through March 21, 2013. Currently, 70.5 percent of the recommendations made by Judge Freeh have been accomplished. This includes recommendations that are categorized as “Ongoing/Continuous,” indicating that the University’s response and management of such matters will be ongoing.

University responds to Sandusky segment on Today show

The NBC TODAY show Monday (March 25) aired portions of a telephone interview from prison with former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky, who was convicted in June 2012 on 45 counts of child sexual abuse and sentenced to 30 to 60 years in solitary confinement. The University has issued the following statement in reaction to the Today show segment:

"Jerry Sandusky's statements today continue to open wounds for his victims, and the victims of child sexual abuse everywhere. We have tremendous respect for the men who came forward to tell their stories publicly. Penn State continues to take important steps, including the training of over 11,000 employees and volunteers on how to recognize and report suspected child abuse."

Becker named as first director of University ethics and compliance

Becker named as first director of University ethics and compliance

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Following a national search, Penn State has named Regis W. Becker as its first director of University ethics and compliance. In this role, he will oversee all compliance issues throughout the University and develop Penn State's first comprehensive program of institutional ethics.

Becker will report to the Legal and Compliance Committee of the Board of Trustees and to David Gray, senior vice president for finance and business.

"Regis Becker's range of distinguished experience in corporate compliance, security and law enforcement makes him the ideal person to implement and oversee clear, comprehensive and exemplary principles and procedures for the University," Penn State President Rod Erickson said. "As I noted when announcing this position, Regis will have oversight of compliance with all federal, state and local laws, as well as internal policies and external organization policies, while encouraging the highest ethical standards of conduct for those who represent the University and act on its behalf."

"I believe my capabilities will serve Penn State well as it works to strengthen its overall institutional commitment to integrity and transparency," Becker said. "The experience I have gained throughout my career provides me with a broad practical perspective and an in-depth understanding of the critical role that a robust ethics and compliance program can play in bolstering and sustaining an organization’s culture and values. I look forward to continuing my work as a compliance leader in service to this great institution."

Becker is currently chief compliance officer for PPG Industries, a global Fortune 250 company with headquarters in Pittsburgh. After joining PPG in 1992, Becker advanced through a series of corporate security and risk management roles to earn oversight of all global compliance efforts in 2009. He heads the company’s global ethics and compliance program, with responsibility for developing and updating a global code of ethics, oversight of related training and certification for the company’s nearly 40,000 employees, and supervision of compliance auditing and monitoring efforts. He also manages the company’s crisis response unit, which ensures PPG sets appropriate protocols and follows them to quickly mitigate external and internal threats and events.

His prior experience includes work as an FBI special agent, as a detective in the Allegheny County, Pa., district attorney's white-collar crime unit and as a corporate security director with Union Carbide Corp. and Praxair. A 1978 Penn State graduate with a bachelor’s degree in law enforcement, Becker earned his juris doctorate from the Duquesne University School of Law in 1983.

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