Newly elected chair of the Board of Trustees delivers remarks
Karen B. Peetz, vice chairman and chief executive officer at The Bank of New York (BNY) Mellon, was elected chair of Penn State's Board of Trustees Jan. 20. Peetz made the following remarks during a press conference following the board's Jan. 20 meeting.
Karen B. Peetz:
Thank you for coming today. It is a great honor and privilege to stand before you as Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Pennsylvania State University. It is also, particularly now, a great responsibility. Penn State is one of the best teaching and research universities in the world. My job, and that of the other trustees, is to work with President Erickson to make sure that this always remains so. We all take this obligation seriously -- our students, our alumni, our faculty, and the entire state deserve no less.
Before I get to today’s meeting, let me first affirm the Board’s wholehearted support for President Erickson’s new leadership. In recent weeks, President Erickson has made clear what Penn State is all about. As he has said, the actions of an individual do not define Penn State -- the work of our 96,000 students, 44,000 full and part-time faculty and staff, and more than half a million loyal and dedicated alumni define us.
Equally important, President Erickson has also made clear that Penn State’s values do not begin with what is lawful or unlawful -- they begin with what is moral versus immoral and with doing the right thing.
In today’s meeting the board discussed a number of issues. Most importantly, we established three core principles that will guide us in the months and years to come.
First, there is no higher priority for us than to help the abuse victims get justice. The criminal legal process will take its course, and it would be wrong to pre-judge its outcome, but let me be clear: we and President Erickson will find a way to make sure that Penn State helps the victims of this tragedy. Immediately, we will reach out to the victims we know of and seek to pay for their abuse-related health costs, to pay for related counseling they have had to date, and to pay for counseling going forward related to the abuse.
Regarding litigation against the University, the board and President Erickson will do our best to work out a process that does not take any victims through years of litigation. We want justice for them, we want healing for them, and we will do what we can to help the victims find these. This includes full cooperation with Judge Freeh’s investigation and every investigation into Mr. Sandusky.
Second, the board will increase our own transparency with the public as well as work with President Erickson to improve the entire University’s openness. President Erickson has already begun this process through town hall meetings with alumni. I and other members of the board will begin holding similar town hall meetings with students, faculty, and alumni later in the year. The more we learn, the more we can communicate our thoughts, the better.
In addition, the board is going to form our own task force to examine our governance and determine whether we can make changes that would improve our oversight of the University as well as our accessibility to it. We will certainly take into account what we hear from the University community.
Third, the board will work with President Erickson to ensure that there is a proper balance in our University between athletics and academics. While football has been the University’s most public face, our academics, our research contributions, and our alumni contributions and achievements are that which most define us and evidence to everyone the incredible students and faculty we have.
Ultimately, the students, alumni, and faculty are why I am here. Why every trustee sits on the board. To serve Penn State and its community, and to do so with pride. That is exactly what we are gong to do. I am happy to take your questions. Thank you again for coming.