Integrity monitor cites University’s continued progress in newly released report

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Penn State has continued to make progress on initiatives undertaken in response to recommendations made in the Freeh Report, according to the latest quarterly report tracking Penn State's progress in meeting the goals of the Athletics Integrity Agreement (AIA) signed by Penn State, the NCAA and the Big Ten Conference. The complete text of the report and information about actions Penn State has taken is available at http://www.dlapiper.com/en/us/insights/publications/2014/05/7th-penn-state-report/ online.

"On May 14, 2014, I met with Dr. Eric Barron and Dr. Rodney Erickson, Penn State's present and immediate past presidents," said Sen. George Mitchell, in his report. "Dr. Barron pledged that I would continue to receive complete cooperation from the University, as has been the case since the inception of my duties." Mitchell was named by the NCAA as the independent monitor to oversee Penn State's Athletics Integrity Agreement, a five-year appointment that began in 2012.

"I'm pleased with how quickly the institution responded and how much has been accomplished in the way of compliance and the dedication to improving our processes," said President Barron. "Penn State has taken the recommendations seriously, has made enormous progress and has become a model institution for addressing issues like this. We plan to remain on this track of continuous improvement."

Among its activities during this reporting quarter, Penn State:

-- through the Office of Ethics and Compliance adopted a compliance plan approved by a committee of the Board of Trustees. The compliance plan addresses standards of conduct; governance; reporting lines and delegation of authority; training and education; monitoring and auditing; program promotion; discipline; and remediation.

-- Intercollegiate Athletics compliance department became the first in the country with five members certified by the National Association for Athletics Compliance ("NAAC");

-- hosted its third annual conference on child protection and well-being and continued its support of organizations striving to end child sexual abuse and to assist its victims;

-- continued installation of access controls and security measures at its athletics and recreational facilities to ensure adherence to Penn State policies, both at University Park and on its Commonwealth Campuses, with a goal of ensuring the access controls are fully operational for the start of the 2014-15 academic year; and

-- commissioned a team of administrators and public safety professionals to support its Clery Act compliance program; and began to review policies, procedures and training programs concerning child safety and abuse prevention to ensure their consistency with newly enacted state laws.

Mitchell and his team made a number of visits to the University Park campus during the past quarter to meet with former President Erickson and current President Barron, the administration response team, the Ethics and Compliance Council, several vice presidents and other administrators, and several other councils and working groups.

Members of Mitchell's team also attended Board of Trustees meetings in March and May, participated in a meeting of the Faculty Senate Intercollegiate Athletics Committee and attended a training session held for coaches, athletics administrators and other "covered persons" designed to satisfy the AIA's annual athletics compliance training requirement.

In the coming quarter, Mitchell will continue to monitor the University's progress toward fulfilling its obligations in connection with the AIA and NCAA Consent Decree. His second annual report, due in September, will more comprehensively review Penn State's work to comply with the AIA's annual obligations. It also will cover the progress made toward completing long-term, capital-intensive projects undertaken in response to the Freeh recommendations, and adjustments made to University policies, procedures and training in response to recently enacted Pennsylvania legislation.

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Board considers permanent seat for student representative | Progress

Board considers permanent seat for student representative

HERSHEY, Pa. – The Penn State Board of Trustees considered changes to its charter and bylaws today (March 6), including the creation of a permanent seat for a student trustee.

The Committee on Governance and Long-Range Planning listened to a proposal that would ensure that a student presence is specified in the board's governance documents.

For four decades, students have been represented on the Board of Trustees by a student chosen from an identified pool of interested and eligible candidates. In the past, the name of the student who is selected from this pool has been forwarded by the governor to the Pennsylvania Senate for confirmation. The longstanding process is at the discretion of the governor. Historically, the governor has opted to designate one of the six governor-appointed seats on the 32-member board as a student trustee, but this tradition has not been codified.

The change, which would require a vote of the full board in May to be enacted, is supported by the University Park Undergraduate Association, the Council of Commonwealth Student Governments and the Graduate Student Association.

Under the changes proposed in the meeting, the action would specifically designate a trustee to represent the student body, with a two-year term unless the student trustee ceases to meet the criteria set forth in the bylaws. The criteria spelled out for a student trustee is that he or she be an undergraduate, graduate, professional or World Campus student in a degree-seeking program and in good academic standing. By a vote of 8-1, the committee agreed to move the proposal forward.

Also two proposals approved by the committee in January will be taken up by the full board on Friday (March 7):

-- Alumni trustee nomination and election ballots will now be sent electronically to qualified electors who have a valid email address on file in the University’s alumni records. Previously, only individuals who were active members of the Alumni Association or donors of the University automatically received a ballot.

-- A change to the bylaws that will modify and clarify the types of real estate and other capital transactions to be brought to the board for approval and informational purposes.

Matters that would now require the approval of the Board of Trustees include the purchase of land and other real estate with a purchase price of $1 million or more, the sale of land and other real estate with the exception of sales with a price of less than $3 million gifted to the University for the express purpose of sale, and honorific names for individual buildings and roads. Also under the change, the Board of Trustees would be required to receive “thorough and forthright reports on the affairs” on matters such as new construction or renovations projects with a total cost equal to or greater than $1 million but less than $5 million, the purchase of real estate with a purchase price of less than $1 million, and proceeds from the sale of land and other real estate with a sale price of less than $3 million gifted to the University for the express purpose of sale.

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Penn State clarifies: It is not a willing party to NCAA lawsuit | Progress

Penn State clarifies: It is not a willing party to NCAA lawsuit

Lawyers for the family of the late Joe Paterno and others have filed an amended complaint in their case against the NCAA and have named Penn State as a defendant. The University has issued the following statement in response to the filing:

“Penn State is deeply disappointed that the Paterno family, four individual trustees and others have added Penn State as a party in their lawsuit against the NCAA.  Penn State will do its best to mitigate the expense, disruption to its operations and harm to its mission and interests, which are caused by the forced and unwilling inclusion of the University as a defendant in a dispute between private parties.

The Board has not authorized the individual trustee plaintiffs to sue as trustees or to bring claims on behalf of the University. Due to concerns with serious conflicts of interest that already exist, Board leadership urged the trustee plaintiffs to end their involvement in the lawsuit. Instead, these conflicts of interest and the harm to the University have been made worse by the actions of the four Trustee plaintiffs and others in seeking to force the University to be a party in this litigation.

Penn State remains committed to full compliance with the Consent Decree and the Athletics Integrity Agreement. We look forward to continuing to work with Sen. George Mitchell in pursuit of these objectives.”

The original lawsuit against the NCAA was filed by the Paterno family on May 29, 2013.

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Fighting the good fight: Penn State Hershey uses IT to prevent child abuse | Progress

Fighting the good fight: Penn State Hershey uses IT to prevent child abuse

Dr. Benjamin Levi knows there’s power in information.

As director for the Center for the Protection of Children (CPC) at the Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, Levi and his team are working on several technologies to help streamline and standardize child abuse reporting methods and intervention data organization.

“The center is in the process of improving methods old and new for gathering and storing information throughout the entire investigation process,” Levi explained. “From providing more information resources and a better way to report suspected abuse to designing a new database for tracking and analyzing data for children with suspected abuse, we’re developing innovative tools for our team to better help children.”

To achieve its goals of preventing maltreatment, improving reporting rates, and providing the best care for children who have experienced abuse, the CPC — founded in December 2011 — is collaborating with Penn State information technology (IT) staff to build new digital assets.

Last year, the CPC reached out to the instructional designers in Teaching and Learning with Technology, a unit within Information Technology Services (ITS) at University Park, for support in designing a new e-learning program aimed at early childhood professionals throughout Pennsylvania called iLook Out for Child Abuse.

“Children ages birth through 4 are the most vulnerable to abuse,” Levi said. “And yet of the more than 26,000 reports of suspected abuse made in Pennsylvania last year, only 451 came from early childhood professionals — which suggests that many cases are being missed. iLook Out for Child Abuse focuses on early childhood professionals so that child care providers can be both informed and prepared to report maltreatment when there is ‘reasonable suspicion’ that a child may be being abused or neglected.”

The online training will consist of multimedia, interactive modules to help individuals identify risk factors and signs of abuse. The program will be available online through a learning management system and will be free.

It will also point users to the newly enhanced Pennsylvania Look Out for Child Abuse form, an online resource at www.reportsuspectedabuse.com for reporting suspected maltreatment of children. This innovative tool is designed to increase the efficiency and accuracy of information transfer to secure state databases. Eventually, it will be used to research reporting practices, using de-identified data, and to help improve standards for what is reported, how it is reported and how that information is processed.

John Soubik said this kind of improved communication is key in every step of the reporting and evaluation process. Soubik, a former county child welfare investigator and 1985 Penn State alumnus, presented the annual de Lissovoy lecture on child welfare at the University in October.

“It’s so important that people communicate at every step of an investigation,” Soubik said. “Reporting has to be accurate and meticulous notes have to be kept at every step. When I was an investigator, there was no centralized database and information could be easily lost. The new repository will be extremely helpful.”

Not only will the database help keep information secure and organized, but it will also aid in preventing abuse. Levi explained that as the repository grows, research will be done on patterns and demographics to help predict which children may be most at risk for abuse.

“If we look at our records and notice a particular family with multiple risk factors that has repeatedly brought in a young child for small issues, that might alert us that these are parents who are stressed and overwhelmed, for whom assistance could help prevent abuse” Levi said. “By better identifying patterns that indicate risk, we create opportunities to provide information and support that not only serves as a resource for parents, but could help them readjust expectations so that their frustration goes down, rather than escalating into abuse.”

As the CPC grows, it will continue to build on the strong foundation provided by Penn State Hershey and the University as a whole.

“The seeds we have planted are beginning to shoot up. But to grow to their potential and provide the canopy of protection we envision,” Levi said, “we need support. The work we are doing requires a team approach and resources that aren’t easy to come by. That’s our goal for the coming year — to garner the resources we need to do this well.”

The work of the CPC fits into the University’s larger initiative of increasing child abuse awareness generally. Within the Penn State community all students, faculty and staff have already completed University-based online training.

“There are cases that go undetected, which is why this kind of training is so important,” Levi said. “Once we have an even better idea of the true number of abuse cases, we’ll be able to make sure we have the resources for the necessary interventions. And when that happens, we’ll be able to measure — and increase — how effective those interventions are.”

As for Soubik, he understands the importance of having as much information as possible for an effective intervention — and despite the difficulties he faced as a child welfare investigation, he said that it was all worth it.

“It was a very challenging job because there was always the chance of making the wrong call without having all of the necessary information at your fingertips. It would have been terrible to not remove a child for lack of information and subject him or her to even more abuse or neglect, or to have someone falsely accused,” he said. “But the times I made a difference for the better in someone’s life were very gratifying and made it all worth it.”

And that’s a powerful thing.

To learn how to help the CPC, visit http://www.pennstatehershey.org/web/protection-of-children/home/donate.

To report suspected child abuse, go to http://www.pennstatehershey.org/web/protection-of-children/home/reporting.

For more stories about IT at Penn State, visit Current at http://current.it.psu.edu/.

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Child protection center showcases ongoing initiatives, new expertise | Progress

Child protection center showcases ongoing initiatives, new expertise

Since its founding in late 2011, Penn State Hershey Center for the Protection of Children has built off a strong foundation of clinical and research expertise in the area of child maltreatment and trauma to create and expand programs and initiatives for improving the health and well-being of at-risk children.

At an event at Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital today, Center for the Protection of Children staff updated legislators and other guests on some of the initiatives under way and introduced a few new faces.

In fall 2013, Dr. Lori D. Frasier joined Penn State Hershey from The University of Utah School of Medicine as chief of the new Division of Child Abuse Pediatrics. Frasier is internationally known as an expert in the growing field of child abuse pediatrics and serves on the board that sets the guidelines for certifying medical professionals in the field. At the Children’s Hospital, she leads a team of expert pediatricians, knowledgeable in medicine and injury analysis, who evaluate children with injuries suspected of being caused by abuse, recommend testing, speak with parents and serves as liaisons to community agencies such as Children and Youth Services, police and the legal system.

Frasier has played a key role in the center’s development of a specialized clinic for at-risk children in the foster care system. The clinic, to be located in downtown Harrisburg, will provide a “medical home” for these children. It will also provide Penn State researchers the opportunity to access de-identified data that may help them find clues to the prevention of child abuse and maltreatment. The clinic is expected to open this spring or summer.

In March, the center will have additional clinical expertise on board when Dr. Kent Hymel, a second board-certified child abuse pediatrician, joins the Children’s Hospital from Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center and the Children’s Hospital at Dartmouth, where he is the medical director of the Child Advocacy and Protection Program. Hymel is an internationally known expert in child abuse with a research focus on abusive head trauma.

The center has also recruited Dr. Brian Allen, a clinical child psychologist, to serve as its director of mental health services and conduct research on evidence-based treatment of child abuse, starting in June. These new staff members join a dedicated social worker, the existing clinical Child Protection Team (led by Dr. Kate Crowell) and Dr. Benjamin Levi, professor of pediatrics and humanities, director of the center.

The center is part of Penn State’s Network on Child Protection and Well-Being, a University-wide initiative that promotes and supports interdisciplinary collaborations in research, education and evidence-based practice and policy that are aimed at better understanding, treating and ultimately preventing child maltreatment. Hymel and Allen are two of the 12 “cluster hires” the University committed to the Network.

“The Center for the Protection of Children is tackling one of the most difficult and devastating problems our society faces, that is, the abuse and maltreatment of children,” Penn State President Rodney Erickson told the crowd of legislators and others Thursday. “The work under way at this center addresses heartbreaking issues; and it gives hope and help to families.”

The center draws upon unique resources, such as the College of Medicine’s Department of Humanities, which takes a creative, humanistic approach to developing interventions to protect children, and the research infrastructure and collaborations fostered by the Penn State Clinical and Translational Science Institute.

“Taken together, all of these resources represent Penn State Hershey’s strong commitment to combatting the devastating problem of child abuse through clinical care, education, advocacy and outreach, and through research that advances our understanding of all aspects of child protection and well-being,” said Dr. Harold L. Paz, CEO of Penn State Hershey Medical Center and Health System, Penn State’s senior vice president for health affairs and dean, Penn State College of Medicine.

Event guests saw firsthand how the center uses the expertise of Penn State Hershey Simulation Center to train pediatric residents on the intricacies of interacting with the parents of a child for whom abuse is suspected. Dr. Mark Dias was on hand to talk about his long-standing research and outreach activities related to shaken baby syndrome and other abusive head trauma.

“Research on child abuse and child protection is vital to helping us serve the needs of vulnerable children, and it takes many forms,” said Dr. Daniel A. Notterman, vice dean for research and graduate studies, Penn State College of Medicine, and a professor of pediatrics and biochemistry and molecular biology. “From studies into how abuse can change a child’s epigenetic makeup, to using evidence-based approaches to establishing best practices for treating the mental health effects of abuse, we are committed to putting our deep and broad expertise to work toward solutions.”

Other center projects under way include expanding electronic access to the state’s child abuse reporting form through the center’s Look Out for Child Abuse website to all Pennsylvania counties (a partnership with the County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania) and development of multimedia, interactive, e-learning modules geared toward early childhood educators and administrators (in affiliation with Queensland University of Technology and the Network of Victim Assistance.)

Additionally, the new administrative home of the center and the Division of Child Abuse Pediatrics on the seventh floor of the Biomedical Research Building offers private and shared work space for center staff and visitors, an informal meeting space, and a conference room designed to host lectures, research meetings and small public events, as well as interactions with legislators, policy makers and others.

“We are at the point where we have a ‘deep bench’ and a strong institutional commitment to realize the vision of the Center for the Protection of Children, to build an evidence-based, interdisciplinary approach for understanding, treating and ultimately preventing child abuse and neglect,” Levi said.

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Governance retreat public session transcript available | Progress

Governance retreat public session transcript available

Penn State's Board of Trustees attended a retreat led by its governance consultant, Holly J. Gregory, on Thursday, Jan. 16. The first portion of the retreat was public and can be seen at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v1RPvytUYKE online. A transcript of the public session appears below.

Keith Eckel, member of the Board of Trustees and chair of the Committee on Governance and Long-Range Planning:

Well let me call our afternoon session to order and welcome all of the trustees here, and the pubic that is in the adjoining room. I think this is a great opportunity for us this afternoon to work together, and I would remind you not only afternoon but early evening, and the one thing that I would urge everyone is participate. Be involved. Don't hesitate to ask the key questions, challenging or not.

As you know, the committee, the Governance and Long-Range Planning Committee, was tasked with assisting the board in considering a range of governance reforms that have been suggested by a variety of interested parties. And to assist in that consideration, we have retained a consultant, through our RFP process to help facilitate. Our consultant is Holly J. Gregory, from the law firm of Sidley Austin LLP. And of course she is with us today. She is well-recognized for her work with boards, and many of you have already met or spoken with her. In fact, if you recall, she spoke to our board I believe about a year and a half ago. If you want to research her CV, you can do that at www.sidley.com. You will hear from Holly shortly, and she will help to facilitate our board assessment discussion and board retreat in private sessions later today. I expect that over the next several months, as we undertake consideration of further governance reforms, she will be reaching out as appropriate to ensure that our consideration is well informed by an understanding of many diverse viewpoints.

Let me begin with a brief recap of what we hope to accomplish with this project. At any institution, effective governance is a work in progress. There is no question about that. I don't believe there is any end point. It is a constant process to make sure that we have the best governance structure. No one set of governance structures or practices will fit an organization for all points in time. Rather, effective governance needs to include ongoing consideration of how the board, its committees and individual trustees can continually improve. This is doubly so in the aftermath of crisis, when we have the opportunity to learn from experience and reconsider our governance structures and processes in a pragmatic effort to position the board for more effective and efficient oversight and guidance in the future.

As you know, we have already made considerable and numerous changes in governance practices in the past two years. I've asked Frank Guadagnino, who is now new to our staff but is not new to us, to recap what we have accomplished to date. But there is also general consensus that more remains to be done. This process is not even changing in the last two years; it's been changing over the last 12 years I've been on the board. And I believe that it's critically important to recognize that there is not one singular model that's right for every organization. The right model for Penn State will be the Penn State model. It is within every one of our hands an ability to shape that.

Holly is the expert. I have great confidence in her ability. But perhaps her most important talent is one of facilitation; one of working with each of us and the board as a whole to improve the governance model and to make it the best for Penn State. And indeed that's why the board has tasked the corporate governance and long-range planning committee with undertaking this review, to do this work, and then to bring it to the board. And I can tell you, it is my personal hope that this undertaking will bring this committee, number one, and this board, together. There are differences of opinion. There may be divisions amongst us. But I am convinced that there is one thing that unites all of us. And that is that we want the best for Penn State.

Our viewpoints may be different in what that definition is. But we want the best for Penn State. And this effort is to create and in many cases re-underline processes that we may already have, as the best Penn State model to do that. So I am looking forward to this afternoon and this early evening in working with Holly and each of you as we begin this process together. And so at this time, having mentioned a number of reforms that have already taken place, I'm going to turn the program over to Frank, and Frank I would like you to outline for us, and remind us of the journey that we have been on in the last few years, in improving the governance of Penn State University. Frank?

Frank Guadagnino, senior partner with Reed Smith LLP of Pittsburgh, and consultant to the Board of Trustees

Thank you. As background for today's discussion, I've been asked to remind everyone of the actions that this board has taken since early in 2012, which respond to most of the critiques and criticisms of its governance structure that the board and others have identified. I think it's fair to say that this board has accepted suggestions from all quarters as serious contributions to its review and analysis, and while not accepting all, adopted many recommendations that originated from outside the University.

With respect to the review of governance documents, this has been an ongoing item on the board's agenda for the last two years, and continues to be a topic of interest as evidenced by the retreat that the board is having today. It is, as chair Eckel noted, a work in progress. The charter, bylaws and standing orders of the University are not static, nor have they been. In fact, this board made revisions or changes to its governing documents more than 20 times over the last 12 years.

Let me highlight several of the significant changes adopted by the board within the last 24 months. Starting in January of 2012, 12-year term limits were established for trustees elected for terms beginning July 1, 2013. Further amendments applied those limits to all trustees other than the ex-officio trustees, and eliminated an exception for trustees serving as vice chair of the board. Committee restructuring in January 2012 added four new committees for a total of six, providing for greater oversight and engagement by trustees.

The board also added new subcommittees for legal and for human resources. This past November the board added a seventh standing committee, the committee on compensation. Committee membership was expanded to include faculty, staff and student representation on all but two of the committees. Key staff positions including the general counsel and the directors of internal audit, and ethics and compliance, now have a formal dual-reporting requirement to both the president and the Board of Trustees.

The board also instituted a public comment period at its meetings in order to hear from internal and external constituencies. The meetings are now streamed online so that citizens of the Commonwealth and others can view first-hand the deliberations of the board.

In May of 2013, many additional changes to the charter, bylaws and standing orders were approved by the board. For the sake of brevity I'll highlight only the most significant of those changes.

Changes to the charter: The charter was changed to make the president of the University and the governor ex-officio, non-voting members of the board. The charter was amended to reflect existing practice with respect to elections of alumni trustees, and to be consistent with electronic and notice and voting methodologies currently in use.

Changes were made to facilitate electronic delivery of notices. The 10-day notice requirement for meetings of the board was reduced to three, consistent with the Pennsylvania Sunshine Law. The charter was changed to reflect current practices with respect to reimbursement of trustees for travel expenses. The charter was revised to change the composition and method of selection of the executive committee. And a number of anachronistic provisions no longer relevant were deleted.

With respect to the bylaws: again, the president and the governor were made ex-officio, non-voting members of the board. As previously described the language relating to term limits was amended. A waiting period was added with respect to University employees to become trustees. That waiting period was extended from three years to five years. And a similar waiting period with respect to Commonwealth row officers was added.

A new section provides for removal of a trustee in the event of a breach of his or her fiduciary responsibility to the University. Language was added permitting notices to be made electronically. The quorum requirement was changed from 13 to a majority of the voting members then in office. A new provision expressly permits telephonic meetings, subject to compliance with the Sunshine Law. A new provision authorizes the chair to excuse non-voting members of the board from meetings at his discretion.

References that previously existed in the bylaws with respect to consultation with the president on committee and subcommittee appointments and committee and subcommittee agendas was deleted. The majority of the members of the executive committee now serve by virtue of their position on the board plus such number of at-large members necessary to create an executive committee of 13 members, with those at-large members nominated by the governance committee and elected by the board. And information was added to impose a five-year limit on committee chairs, with limited exceptions subject to the super-majority vote of the board.

Given the recent increase in the number of standing committees, the minimum number of trustees on each committee was reduced from six to five. The provision making the president the ex-officio secretary was deleted. The secretary is now an elected position. The description of the president's duties was expanded by including language from the standing orders.

The matters requiring approval by the board and matters to be presented to the board for information were moved and revised in a couple of respects, to clarify which items come to the board for approval, and which items are brought to the board for information.

A statement requiring the University's annual Clery Act reports and Right to Know Law reports to be presented to the board for information was added. This change codified existing practices. And importantly, the conflict of interest and disclosure provisions of the bylaws were enhanced and strengthened to include not just financial conflicts of interest, but any situation where the interests of the trustee conflicts with the interests of the University.

We made, this board adopted additional changes to the standing orders, relating to the trustee elections; relating to the conduct of public meetings; and with respect to the expectations of membership to clarify and amplify certain of the expectations of the board of its members. And then finally the standing orders relating to trustees emeriti was revised, to make former board chairs automatically eligible for emeritus status and they include that the expectations of membership, with a few limited exceptions, apply equally to the emeritus trustees.

With these collective changes, practically all of the recommendations made by former Auditor General Wagner, and to the extent that they relate to the University's organizational documents, the recommendations contained in the Freeh Report, were addressed in whole or in part, as were the recommendations made by the Middle States Commission on Accreditation. Subsequent to May 2013, additional changes were made. In September and November, changes were made to change the annual meeting date to July; to amend the matters to be brought to the board for approval, as well as the matters to be brought before the board for informational purposes, clarifications on that; and as previously mentioned, a new standing committee on compensation was formed.

Finally, the Governance and Long-Range Planning committee at its meeting this morning approved and will recommend to the board for adoption at its meeting in March, additional changes to the charter that are intended to promote broader participation by the University's alumni in the annual election of trustees elected by the alumni. And additional changes to the bylaws that further clarify issues to be brought to the board for approval, rather than for information, with respect to real estate transactions and other capital expenditures.

Chair Eckel that concludes the summary. At this point we'll turn the program over to Holly.

Gregory Gregory, governance consultant to the Board of Trustees

Thank you all. I'm really very pleased to be here. I really greatly appreciate the trust that you all have shown in me in asking me to facilitate a consideration of reforms at this critical point in time for this great institution, this Penn State. In the interests of full disclosure, I'm not an alumni. I am a product of state university education, and I have to say as I learn more about Penn State, I'd love to be able to claim it, but that wouldn't be truthful.

I want to emphasize a couple of points at the outset. And what I want to do in this talk is sort of set a frame for the discussions we're going to be having later this afternoon as we do a board assessment, discussion and start to explore governance ideas in our retreat. It's helpful to create a framework and again, you have to understand my biases. One of my big biases is I'm a lawyer, and so that framework of fiduciary duty really does effect very much how I look at boards and what they do as a starting point. Not as an ending, but as a starting point. I also believe very much, as Keith Eckel said, that governance is a work in progress. It's about continuous improvement. It never really ends. You never say, 'We're done, we're set.' Something will change. Something will change in the context in which you operate. But you need to continually think about how this board functions and operates, and what are the rules that it has in place to guide it.

I want to emphasize a couple things at the outset. First, the focus of my practice as a lawyer is working with boards of directors and boards of trustees, so for-profit and not-for-profit entities, including some entities in the education area – although I don't pretend to be an expert on university governance. I work with boards in times of normalcy, and in times of crisis, and in times of aftermath of crisis. And I know well from my experience the tensions involving key relationships in an organization are not at all unusual in times of crisis. In fact, they are the norm. And the success of an organization in weathering a crisis comes down to the ability to commit to building trust, while under fire, and in the aftermath.

Now you've begun that reform, but we've heard from Frank a considerable amount has been done but more remains. You've made changes in the last year to address many governance concerns that have been raised, but there are a number of areas where observers have continued to call for change, and we have to listen. These relate primarily to issues around board size, board composition, and trustee selection method. And these calls for change, these types of calls for change are also not unusual in the aftermath of a crisis. The reality is that the buck stops with the board. And in my experience when an institution goes through a crisis, significant changes in corporate governance are often necessary to signal to constituents and the community at large that change is at hand.

I will spend time later today exploring, without deliberation or any effort to come to any kind of conclusion or decision, ideas about how to rebuild confidence and trust in the board as the governing entity of this great institution. That's really sort of where we are starting out today. I hope that we can do this with candor, and with a respect for the diverse viewpoints that are here in this room, with a goal of building trust among the trustees. That's our starting point. I'm going to ask that you set aside your own personal interests, and that you engage with an open mind. My task is to help you step back, and think about your effectiveness, both as an individual trustee, and as a collective body. Because after all, any discussion of board effectiveness must focus on both the individual and the collective. After all, each individual trustee owes legal duties to the University, but the authority to govern lies with the board as a whole.

I want to talk a little bit about the context that we're in. Context matters. We can't ignore it. As you know, I'm at the very, very beginning of my learning about the University and about the University's governance, and I greatly appreciate the time that so many of you have spent with me, especially over the holidays, in getting acquainted with the issues. In the last three weeks I've met or had phone calls with more than two-thirds of the trustees and it's really been helpful in sort of a jump-start for me. I wish the time had allowed for me to meet with each of you before our discussion today, and I commit that we will have the opportunity in the coming days and weeks to spend time together.

I also greatly appreciate the opportunity to have met with key members of the University's administration, its student leadership, Faculty Senate leadership and the Alumni Association leadership. This is all very important to me understanding what viewpoints are, and the concerns and issues that surround the board and the University. I anticipate that I'll be reaching out for additional conversations and will be also circling back to many of you whom I've already spent some time with as this process progresses.

Now I well appreciate as I said that the board operates in a context, and that the events of the last several years provide that context. I also well understand that trustees hold a variety of very different views about how the board operates, what works well and what needs to change. Not everyone has the same point of view, and if all agreed I don't think we'd be having this discussion. You wouldn't need my facilitation of efforts to consider additional reforms. My job is to help you find areas of agreement around potential reforms. Now I have no set views regarding the events that have brought the board to this point. I'm really agnostic. I'm neutral. I don't have a viewpoint. Nor am I really looking to form one. I'm here to help you think about how to position yourselves to work now at the highest and best level, and what kinds of reforms will help you do that, from the things that have been suggested.

Now I can't help but share with you a little bit of my philosophy and perspective on corporate governance. It's a perspective and philosophy that I've said is very shaped by my understanding of the legal framework in which you operate. Now of course there are different types of systems that an organization could have to govern itself. There's no one set, right way of governing. And there's a broad range. There's legislative governance models. There's fiduciary governance models. You have a fiduciary governance model. That's what the law has given to you. You are trustees. That is not is not a legislative or representational governance system. You each volunteered, in effect, to serve on this board, and you've been selected through a variety of methods and by a variety of groups, to serve on this board. And by volunteering, you've each agreed to take on that very special duty as a fiduciary of the University. And again, you volunteered to do so. This duty that you've agreed to has been described as encompassing one of the highest standards of care that a person can owe to an organization or to another person. You've agreed to put the interests of Penn State above your own interests. Or above the interests of anyone else with whom you may be affiliated or associated.

Your duties run to the University and not to any group that may have been involved in your selection as a trustee and this is a difficult concept, especially when there are identifiable groups to which each of you owe your position on the board. You owe your position on the board to a group but your obligations run to the University as a whole.

It bears emphasis and it bears reiterating because it is a difficult concept. Now, I note that the bylaws reiterate this point, providing that trustees bring to their roles their varied backgrounds and experiences, that's why you are selected from different groups, for the backgrounds and experiences that it's going to allow you to bring to bear in these discussions that the board has. And you've been selected in different ways. But you must keep the welfare of the entire University and not just the particular constituency at all times paramount. That's in your bylaws. Now, I know that you are well aware of your fiduciaries. You've probably heard this ad-nauseum. I can't help myself because it does provide the frame in which we're going to be talking about governance.

And I know that you all have the best interests of the University at heart. I understand that, especially after talking with you. People are so passionate about what they are bringing to this board and how much they care about the University and what they want to accomplish here.

But you do need to understand that the obligation that you bring of considering the best interests of the University is not a subjective standard. It's an objective standard. It is what is reasonable. What a reasonably prudent person would view as the best interests of the University. Of course as in any group there will be disagreement and I think disagreement isn't something to be afraid of; it's something to be valued. There is a reason why you have come together as a diverse group from different constituent -- to come onto this board and that's to bring these different viewpoints and to debate them in the boardroom. By doing so, to come to the best decisions possible. We come to the best decisions when we are forced to think about viewpoints that we may not have begun with.

It's through discussion and thoroughly informed debate about differences that the quality of the board's decisions are improved. Your views should be expressed on the board and in the committee. That's where you want to have this discussion and debate; in the boardroom and in committee deliberations, but ultimately you have to come together as a board and make decisions.

And this is the other hard context. Whether unanimous or not the board speaks with one voice when it's making decisions. How the board handles disagreement with the view to ensuring that the benefits of rigorous debate are actually achieved without causing further harm to the University becomes the measure and part of this board's effectiveness. I want to underscore this point. Effective and efficient decision-making cannot be made in an environment of divisiveness. We want to value discussion and debate and differing views and respect them but try to use that to come to better decision-making in an environment of hopefully consensus, not always consensus but at least decisions that the board will then support.

That's why the culture of trust that develops within a boardroom is so key. No trustee will ever be in the majority or the minority all of the time. But all trustees need to respect the views of others, come to board and committee meetings with an open mind and a willingness to strive for consensus. Where consensus cannot be had, all trustees need to be committed to supporting the decision of the majority. Once a decision is made by the board, it's the decision of the University. The place for criticizing and revisiting the board issue is in the boardroom. You can come back and try to reopen the issue, but it's now a decision of the board, to which you are committed to support.

Now, I need to share with you what I view as predicates for effective governance. Now we're going to be talking about this more as we talk in the self-assessment. We'll go through them in more detail but I think it's good to step back and say: What makes an effective board?

In some ways it's not rocket science but because we are like a carbon-based group, it can be difficult at times. First, you need a board that's comprised of the right mix of skill sets and experiences and viewpoints for the needs of the University. And the needs of the University change over time. That's why board composition needs to change over time, because you need to make sure you've got the right mix of experiences to help the University face the challenges that it faces, for whatever strategy it's going to achieve in the future.

You need a commitment by all trustees to understanding their roles and their duties and to actively engage in undertaking those duties. You need a commitment also to provide the time and the attention necessary to understand the complex issues facing the University and they are complex. That means there are a lot of times you have to devote to education of yourselves and reading and reviewing information and really learning what you need to know to make informed decisions. You need board meetings that are focused on the right issues at the right level of detail and with the right underlying information. This is a key challenge for many boards, to understand what should be on our agenda and what doesn't need to be on the agenda, so we can be very effective and efficient, and do we have the information that we need?

Information is key to informed decision-making on a timely basis. It's really the predicate for good decision-making overall. You certainly as I have highlighted I think need a board culture of trust and openness and acceptance and decisiveness that values the exploration and debate of diverse viewpoints with the goal of achieving consensus. Again, consensus is not always possible but it should be viewed as a goal to strive for. You need relationships between the board and the administration and the faculty that are marked by trust and respect, a shared devotion to the interests of the University and a constructive tension in which the board challenges the administration to be its very best.

Now, I know there is a lot of discussion about following best practices and benchmarking to what other universities do. And I think a grounding in best practices and benchmarking is key to considering governance reforms. We can learn a lot from others. And we should. However, I think as Keith suggested there's no one path to effective governance, there's no one model, or this would all be much easier. Governance structures and processes have to be tailored to the unique needs and circumstances of this University at this point in time, all in a pragmatic search for what will work best. And that's what I'm hoping that we're engaged in.

To ground our conversation this afternoon, I want to drill down just a little bit more on fiduciary duties, just to make sure we are all on the same page. And forgive me for this, again, but as a lawyer I can't help myself. As trustees you know you have three distinct duties to the University. You have a duty of obedience. That duty is to further the University's purpose, as set forth in the Penn State charter which is, and I'm quoting "Education of youth in the various branches of science, learning and practical agriculture." And then your bylaws provide additional direction. They say that the University exists as a multi-campus public research university that educates students from Pennsylvania, the nation and the world and improves the well-being and health of individuals and communities through integrated programs of teaching, research and service.

Everything that the University does should be linked to the purpose of the University as set forth in its charter and bylaws, and that is what is known in the not-for-profit world as the duty of obedience. Then in addition you have a duty of care. And sometimes I think of this as sort of, this is like the kindergarten duty, the duty to show up, pay attention, you know, use reasonable inquiry, prudence, you know, just act as somebody who really cares. But you do need to show up and spend time and attention. You need to act with the care of reasonable inquiry, skill and diligence that a person of ordinary prudence would use under similar circumstances so it's a reasonableness standard and it's based on the circumstances.

It means that you devote sufficient time to understanding the issues before the board, you prepare for and attend meetings, you pay attention at meetings. And of any committees of which you are a member ,and you participate in orientation and education and in workshop sessions like this. As the board requests. The duty of care also requires that you act on an informed basis, reviewing relevant information and seeking input from the administration and experts as necessary.

It requires that the board discuss and deliberate important issues and the board actively monitor University affairs and those to whom authority has been delegated. Where the board has delegated authority to others, you may rely on those persons for information and to carry out the delegated tasks, so long as that reliance is reasonable. The bylaws, note that reliance of the Board of Trustees must be based upon its continuing awareness of the operations of the University and it requires that the board receive and consider thorough and forthright reports on the affairs of the University. Kind of common sense. If you're going to monitor those to whom you delegate, you need information about the affairs of the University so you can provide direction and make sure that you believe they are fulfilling the delegated authority.

The board also has a continuing obligation to require information or answers on University matters with which it is concerned. And in addition, this duty of care requires that the board ensure that reasonable compliance, information and reporting systems are in place to detect and report up to the board any red flags or series of yellow flags that could themselves be a red flag. If a red flag is apparent, the board should investigate. In summary the duty of care requires active attention and informed decision-making. Nothing radical there.

Your third duty is the duty of loyalty. That's the duty to act in the best interests of Penn State and not in your own or others' self-interest and this requires special attention of course to identifying and handling appropriate any areas of conflict, handling conflicts of interest.

Now, I don't say strictly avoiding conflicts of interest, although that is one way of handling them, avoiding them where you can, but you can't always avoid conflicts of interest. Where they can't be avoided, it's important they be identified and handled appropriately. So disclosure, recusal, making sure that in the first instance the board and the University are aware of any conflicts and that there is an opportunity to make sure that there are mechanisms so that those conflicts don't further affect decision-making. Conflicts of course are most likely to arise with respect to financial interests, the use of University property, confidential information, acting on behalf of another party, competing with the University or taking a business opportunity that belongs to the University.

In sum the duty of loyalty requires strict protection of corporate assets, of University assets, if you will, and that includes maintaining confidentiality of information including confidential deliberations of the board. It also includes protection of the reputation of the University because after all that's one of the University's primary assets. Now, the good news is that perfection is not required. These duties, they expect a very, very high standard from trustees but the law recognizes that the board acting in real-time and in response to real, emerging challenges, will not always make the perfect or even the best decision. You're gonna get it wrong. You're gonna get it wrong sometimes.

And that's why so long as the board acts without conflict, with reasonable, prudent care, and in the interests of the University, you as trustees will not be held liable for failures in decision-making when those decisions are viewed in hindsight. This is a key principle. We want trustees to act decisively, quickly in a crisis. A perfect outcome, while certainly a goal, is not the standard by which you'll be judged in the aftermath.

So with all of this in mind let me share with you what I see as the big-picture goal as you reflect on potential areas for reform and improvement.

Effective boards institutionalize a culture of inquiry, mutual respect and constructive debate that leads to sound and shared decision-making. Let me repeat. A culture of inquiry, mutual respect and constructive debate that leads to sound and shared decision-making.

A lot of this is around boardroom culture, and let me describe a little bit more specifically what I see as the sort of culture to strive for, for an effective board. Certainly mindful of its fiduciary obligations, consensus-oriented where at all possible, and not always driven by majority rule; collegial and diverse but not divisive, conflict-avoiding and disclosing to the extent possible, in other words, committed to handling conflicts appropriately; curious and engaged. But at the same time respectful of role limits, the very important phrase, NIFO, nose in, fingers out, you delegate authority, you monitor to see that that authority is carried out well but you don't get in the way of those to whom you have delegated authority. Strategic thinking and not administering. You have delegated administrative tasks. Your role is above that, higher than that, it's meant to be future-focused, strategic, thinking about issues around controls, certainly, and risks, and the systems that are in place to control for risks, but letting the administration do its work.

This future-focused and not historic-looking. History guides us, we need to be aware of history, but the board in guiding the University has to be focused on the future. That's what you are guiding the University for. You need to be anticipatory and not reactive. You need to be spending your time thinking about what happens next, not just looking in a rearview mirror. You need to be revitalizing and not entrenched. You need to think about planned turnover, you need to think about, again, what are the qualifications and skill sets this board needs for the future to where the University is going and that means really paying attention to thoughtful turnover, thoughtful recruitment, board succession planning in addition to administrative succession planning. It's very important for any kind of entity and certainly for a large University such as this.

And finally diverse and inclusive. And again, I can't emphasize enough the value that comes from having the opportunity to debate a variety of viewpoints and be committed to using that debate to come to a better understanding and hopefully a better decision. So with that said, I look forward to working with each of you. I've enjoyed the time we've had to spend together so far. I'm looking forward to many, many more conversations and I really appreciate all the time you've given me in helping me to understand or start to understand, I don't pretend I'm anywhere significantly up on that learning curve yet. This is very much a work in progress for me just a couple weeks in. But I do look forward to working with you. I hope that I can be of some help to you collectively as you consider potential reforms. I view my role very much as one of facilitation to assist relevant views to be heard in a way that focuses the discussion in a positive direction.

So thank you. I'm looking forward to our discussion this afternoon.


Topics: board of trustees, governance retreat

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Board of trustees gets update on Network on Child Protection and Well-Being | Progress

Board of trustees gets update on Network on Child Protection and Well-Being

Penn State's Network on Child Protection and Well-Being has hired six faculty researchers and has searches in progress for six others, with a goal of translating knowledge into practice and policy aimed at combating child maltreatment, Susan McHale told the Board of Trustees today (Jan. 17).

"Child maltreatment is a complex and systemic problem that is difficult to study and hard to treat," said McHale, director of Penn State's Children, Youth and Families Consortium (CYFC) and Social Science Research Institute (SSRI), and coordinator of the Network. "We are building new knowledge, including providing evidence on whether programs and policies designed for child abuse prevention, detection or treatment are effective. A key effort in turning knowledge into action is building relationships with the local, state and national groups who share our concerns."

McHale spoke about the Network's goal to build collaborations across the University that will address the complex problems of child maltreatment. A key initiative is through a cluster hire of at least 12 faculty members in departments and colleges across Penn State including, Human Development and Family Studies, Biobehavioral Health, Law, Psychology, Education, Pediatrics, and Sociology and Criminology.

New Network faculty include Jennie Noll, professor of human development and family studies; Chad Shenk, assistant professor of human development; Lori Frasier, director of the Penn State Hershey Children's Hospital Division of Child Abuse Pediatrics; and Idan Shalev, assistant professor of biobehavioral health. Two additional faculty members, Brian Allen and Kent Hymel, will join the College of Medicine later this semester.

"The cluster hire is designed to bring faculty members from different disciplines together to address the problem of child maltreatment in new ways," McHale said.

Margaret Gray, director of administration and policy, along with Noll, the director of research and education, lead the Network. Faculty members and students in four foundational centers and 10 affiliates provide the wide-ranging, interdisciplinary expertise needed in addressing the complicated issues of child abuse and neglect.

"With these experts joining us and working with the experts who are already at Penn State, we will be able to build synergies and develop new knowledge to better protect children and support their health and development," McHale said.

Faculty members involved in the CYFC conduct innovative and high-impact research on the behavior, health and development of children, their families and their communities and are nationally and internationally recognized leaders in this field. In November 2012, based on a proposal by the Presidential Task Force on Child Maltreatment, the University created the Network, which built on the Penn State faculty expertise and CYFC's established mechanisms that support, fund and promote interdisciplinary research.

The Network's third annual conference, "The Role of Parenting and Family Processes in Child Maltreatment and Intervention" is scheduled for May 5-6, 2014, at the Nittany Lion Inn on Penn State's University Park campus.

In September 2013, the Network hosted its second annual Conference on Child Protection and Well-Being. The event attracted district attorneys, children and youth services professionals, law enforcement officials and medical professionals as well as Penn State faculty for presentations and discussions about the development of multidisciplinary investigative teams and child advocacy centers across Pennsylvania.

The inaugural conference on "Sexual Abuse: Traumatic Impact, Prevention and Intervention" was held in October 2012.

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Integrity monitor cites University's momentum in newly released report | Progress

Integrity monitor cites University’s momentum in newly released report

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- The University is displaying its "growing leadership in compliance" and continues its "serious, good-faith effort to embrace and adopt" change, according to the latest quarterly report tracking Penn State's progress in meeting the goals of the Athletics Integrity Agreement (AIA) signed by Penn State, the NCAA and the Big Ten Conference.

"This is the fifth quarterly update Penn State has received from Sen. George Mitchell providing an overview of the University's changes that will help guide our actions related to ethics and integrity. I'm happy to say that we have again received a positive report," said University President Rodney Erickson. "Much like the year-end report released in September, this report filed today (Dec. 6) notes our numerous accomplishments and the dedication of University personnel in meeting or exceeding requirements."

The complete text of the report and information about actions Penn State has taken is available at http://www.dlapiper.com/ncaa_penn_state_report_5/.

Mitchell, named by the NCAA as the independent monitor for Penn State to oversee the integrity agreement, has provided periodic updates to the University and general public on the completion of virtually all of the 119 recommendations made by Judge Louis Freeh in July 2012. Freeh's recommendations are intended to improve governance, safety, policies, procedures and operations at the University. Meeting the Freeh recommendations was a requirement of the AIA.

Erickson said that, in recent conversations, Mitchell has urged University leaders to keep up the momentum that has propelled the University to date and maintain their diligence in ensuring these changes are embedded into the daily operations of the University.

"We are deeply committed to these improvements and to ongoing implementation of best practices," Erickson said. "We are now in a second phase of continuous improvement. It is clearly a priority that we intend to pursue."

Touching on nearly every part of the University, the report cited work being done in a multitude of areas, from the new compliance staffing in Intercollegiate Athletics to the presidential search, to the ongoing governance changes undertaken by the Board of Trustees.

Academic performance data of athletes released by the NCAA was also cited in the monitor's report, acknowledging that Penn State’s athletic programs achieved an aggregate 88 percent graduation success rate eight percentage points higher than the average of its Division I peers.

The report also mentioned Penn State's plans for a "second phase of efforts to improve the University in ways that go beyond the recommendations of the Freeh Report, while ensuring that changes put into place … will become embedded in the University’s structure and culture."

Over the course of the last several months, Mitchell and his team have been on the University Park campus on a number of occasions and also attended the day-long Second Annual Child Maltreatment Conference hosted by Penn State, noting that about 260 child advocates from around the state participated.

In addition, the report documented that to date, 16,882 employees and students and 2,057 volunteers have completed the “Reporting Child Abuse” online training offered by the University. Another 18,266 individuals completed in-person, classroom training in 2012 and 2013. Similarly, 2,801 employees, students and volunteers have completed online Clery Act training in addition to approximately 3,000 individuals who completed in-person, classroom training on Clery Act compliance in 2012 and 2013.

"Through this and many other initiatives during the quarter, the University continued to further its commitment to prevent child abuse and assist its victims," according to the report.


Topics: child abuse prevention, george mitchell

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Penn State publishes status update as part of Plan for Continuous Improvement | Progress

Penn State publishes status update as part of Plan for Continuous Improvement

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Penn State has published a regular status update detailing the University’s progress on a variety of critical, ongoing strategic initiatives. With the recommendations from the Freeh Report substantially completed, Penn State administrators are moving into the second phase of the commitment to continuously review and improve its policies.

(View the latest update at http://progress.psu.edu/assets/content/Phase_II_update_Nov_2013.pdf.)

As part of the Plan for Continuous Improvement, University leadership will maintain the existing change management structure, which consists of an administrative response team, advisory council and a joint trustee/advisory council group. Regular meetings of those groups will continue, as will meetings with appropriate University leaders to discuss change initiatives. Penn State also will continue to publish status reports on a regular basis, in order to keep the community informed of progress.

The latest update outlines a comprehensive plan for a wide range of functional areas, including ethics, culture and values; governance; legal, risk, compliance and audit; safety and security; youth programs; training and development; human resources administration; communications; policy review and development; and athletics. Continuous improvement also will play a role in University-wide initiatives including the replacement of the student information system, and the Human Resources Transformation project.

David Gray, senior vice president for Finance and Business at Penn State, said the effort will build upon the positive momentum of the past year and a half.

“We are committed to the process of reform and improvement at the University, and the model we have established has been effective in helping us to meet our goals,” Gray said. “Ultimately, it is our charge as university leaders to maintain and strengthen Penn State’s position as a world-class academic institution and as a great place for faculty and staff members to build a rewarding career. A dedicated focus on continuous improvement always will be critical to those efforts.”

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Settlements announced for Sandusky victims | Progress

Settlements announced for Sandusky victims

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Penn State officials announced today (Oct. 28) that over the past few months the University has reached agreement with 26 of the victims of former assistant football coach Gerald Sandusky. The terms of the settlements, which include a release of all claims against Penn State and other parties, are subject to confidentiality agreements. Of the 26 settlements, 23 are fully signed and three are agreed in principle, with final documentation expected within the next few weeks.

The aggregate dollar amount paid by the University for the 26 settled claims is $59.7 million and will be reflected in the University’s audited financial statements for the year ended June 30, 2013.

"The Board of Trustees has had as one of its primary objectives to reach settlements in a way that is fair and respects the privacy of the individuals involved,” said Keith Masser, chair of the Board of Trustees. "This is another important milestone in accomplishing that goal. I would like to thank the board’s Legal and Compliance Committee, as well as its Legal Subcommittee for its leadership throughout this process.”

“We hope this is another step forward in the healing process for those hurt by Mr. Sandusky, and another step forward for Penn State,” said University President Rodney Erickson. “We cannot undo what has been done, but we can and must do everything possible to learn from this and ensure it never happens again at Penn State.”

The settlement amounts will not be funded by student tuition, taxpayer funds or donations, according to officials. The University maintains various liability insurance policies, which the University believes cover the settlements and defense of claims brought against Penn State and its officers, employees and trustees. Expenses not covered by insurance are expected to be funded from interest revenues related to loans made by the University to its self-supporting units.

Penn State has received claims from 32 individuals who were or allege that they were victims of Sandusky. The University has rejected certain of the six remaining claims as being without merit and has engaged others in possible settlement discussions. The University retained the law firm of Feinberg Rozen LLP to act as independent third-party facilitators of the settlement negotiations between the University and the victims.

"I would like to thank Ken Feinberg and Michael Rozen for their efforts to facilitate the settlements," Erickson said. "Their expertise and efforts have been invaluable to our ability to reach mutually acceptable resolutions in the large majority of the claims."

Over the past year, Penn State has instituted more than 115 changes related to safety, human resources, security, compliance and governance. Through self-imposed urgency, the Board of Trustees, administration and staff have brought sweeping reform and best practice processes to nearly every aspect of the University’s governance and oversight. In doing so, the University considered the recommendations of multiple parties to determine the best course forward, including but not limited to the Pennsylvania Auditor General, Penn State University Faculty Senate and the Freeh Report recommendations.

“We have made great strides, but a great deal of work remains,” Erickson said. “Our University is a better institution today as a result of the work and dedication of our trustees, administrators, faculty, staff and students."


Topics: jerry sandusky, feinberg rozen, llp

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Penn State officials react to NCAA modification of football sanctions | Progress

Penn State officials react to NCAA modification of football sanctions

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Penn State officials are gratified by the decision of the NCAA Executive Committee to modify the scholarship limitations previously imposed on the University under the consent decree between the University and the NCAA. This action, announced today, taken in recognition of Penn State's significant progress under and continued compliance with the Athletics Integrity Agreement, grants immediate relief from both the initial scholarship restrictions and overall team limit restrictions previously imposed on the University's football program. This modification will restore a total of 65 scholarship opportunities for football student athletes wanting to attend Penn State.

To read a statement from the NCAA, visit: http://www.ncaa.org/wps/wcm/connect/public/ncaa/resources/latest+news/2013/september/executive+committee+to+gradually+restore+penn+state+scholarships.

Specifically, the amendment to the consent decree increases the limit on initial football scholarships from 15 to 20 for the 2014-2015 academic year, and from 15 to 25 for each of the next three seasons.  In addition, the amendment increases the overall football team limit of 65 total scholarships to allow for 75 total scholarships in the 2014-2015 academic year, 80 total scholarships in the 2015-2016 academic year, and 85 total scholarships (the NCAA limit for football) for each of the 2016-2017 and 2017-2018 academic years.

"The action taken today by the NCAA, following its review of the positive report issued this month by Sen. George Mitchell, recognizes the significant efforts over the past year to make Penn State a safer, stronger institution," said Penn State President Rodney Erickson.  "This news is certainly welcome to our University community, particularly the student athletes who may want to attend Penn State and will now have the means to do so. As we promised throughout this process, we are committed to continuing to improve all of our policies, procedures and actions."

Sen. Mitchell is the independent, third-party athletics integrity monitor for Penn State who published a report on Sept. 6 indicating that Penn State has substantially completed the initial implementation of all of the Freeh recommendations and all of its annual obligations under the Athletics Integrity Agreement (AIA). The report includes Mitchell’s impartial external review of Penn State’s efforts to implement the 119 recommendations made by Judge Louis Freeh in July 2012. Under the AIA, the University was obligated to take all reasonable steps to implement the recommendations by Dec. 31, 2013. The University, the NCAA and the Big Ten Conference entered into the AIA in August 2012 as part of the consent decree imposed by the NCAA. The agreement contains a number of prescriptive measures designed to ensure that the University continues to meet or exceed all applicable NCAA and Big Ten rules and standards of integrity.

Erickson thanked Head Coach Bill O'Brien for his leadership during this critical time and for his dedication to his players and to the University through the past two difficult seasons. He also acknowledged the work of student athletes, both on the field and in the classroom.

"The resiliency displayed by those young men, as well as our entire student body is something of which we are proud," Erickson said. "I would also like to thank the literally hundreds of University administrators, faculty, staff, students and alumni whose hard work over the past 15 months helped lay the groundwork not only for this action by the NCAA but, even more importantly, for a better Penn State."


Topics: ncaa

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Penn State officials vow continued focus on positive change | Progress

Penn State officials vow continued focus on positive change

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – Sen. George Mitchell, the independent, third-party athletics integrity monitor for Penn State, reported today (Sept. 6) that the University has substantially completed the initial implementation of all of the Freeh recommendations and all of its annual obligations under the Athletics Integrity Agreement (AIA). The report includes Mitchell’s impartial external review of Penn State’s efforts to implement the 119 recommendations made by Judge Louis Freeh in July 2012. Under the AIA, the University was obligated to take all reasonable steps to implement the recommendations made in the Freeh Report by Dec. 31, 2013.

“There is still more to be done, but we are very pleased that our efforts have been recognized by Sen. Mitchell in his latest report that validates the substantial reforms that have been implemented over the past 18 months,” said Penn State President Rodney Erickson. “The favorable report is a significant milestone for us, but it does not represent the conclusion of our efforts. We are keeping our teams in place and are embarking with a sustained sense of urgency on the next phase of our plan to continuously improve our governance, policies and procedures and operations.”

The complete text of the report and information about actions Penn State has taken is available at http://www.dlapiper.com/ncaa_penn_state_report_4/.

The senator’s report notes Penn State’s comprehensive completion of the implementation of virtually all of the recommendations made by Judge Freeh. Among other things, the report notes with approval the governance reforms enacted by the University's Board of Trustees; the work of Penn State’s chief ethics and compliance officer and athletics integrity officer; the significant work being done to coordinate youth programming, including the hiring of a full time youth program coordinator; and the development, review and improvement of a number of University policies and procedures in areas such as police, safety, risk management and human resources. The sum total of these efforts represents an institution-wide, top down and bottom-up effort to reinforce and strengthen the University’s commitment to integrity and core values.

Sen. Mitchell’s report concludes that “While parties may continue to argue about the history that led to the Freeh Report and the AIA, a consensus has developed that the principles at the heart of these reforms are best practices for the governance of any large university.   Penn State’s Phase II plan of action assures the monitor that the University has embraced the Freeh Report’s recommendations as a roadmap supporting long-term enhancement. It demonstrates that, even after the Dec. 31, 2013, deadline for completion is long-since passed, Penn State plans to continue to be guided by the recommendations in its mission to establish effective ethics, compliance and governance programs, support the physical safety of all individuals on its campuses and promote athletics integrity.”

"We are working to become a national model for our policies, practices and procedures in youth programming, athletics, safety and security, human resources, compliance, reporting and responding to wrongdoing and other critical University functions,” Erickson added. "While the consent decree and the Athletics Integrity Agreement gave us until Dec. 31, 2013, to complete the 119 recommendations, we have met that deadline with four months to spare. We can now use the momentum and successes of the past 18 months to move into the next phase was we continue to monitor, review and improve our governance, operations and policies in a structured and disciplined way. We, of course, will report publicly on our continued efforts and progress.”

Keith Masser, chairman of the Board of Trustees, echoed Erickson’s statements and also thanked the countless number of University administrators, faculty, staff and students who devoted literally thousands of hours over the past 18 months toward the implementation of Judge Freeh’s recommendations.

“These have been massive undertakings that have required the cooperation and collaboration of all parts of the University community,” Masser said. “Work on some of these reform initiatives began with the receipt of Judge Freeh’s interim recommendations back in January 2012 and will continue.”

Masser said he is impressed by the diligent and focused efforts of the entire Penn State team and confident that the University is on the right course now and into the future.

The University, the NCAA and the Big Ten Conference entered into the Athletics Integrity Agreement in August 2012 as part of the consent decree imposed by the NCAA. The agreement contains a number of prescriptive measures designed to ensure that the University continues to meet or exceed all applicable NCAA and Big Ten rules and standards of integrity. A review of the University’s progress by an external monitor like Sen. Mitchell was one of the recommendations made by Judge Freeh.

With the approval of the NCAA and the Big Ten Conference, Sen. Mitchell’s team will continue its independent evaluation of Penn State’s activities and a report outlining actions taken will continue to be produced on a quarterly basis. Mitchell's five-year appointment as the University's independent monitor began in August 2012. Mitchell's previous update was issued May 31.


Topics: george mitchell, administration, athletics integrity agreement

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Penn State names youth programs compliance specialist | Progress

Penn State names youth programs compliance specialist

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Sandy Weaver has been named youth programs compliance specialist at Penn State. Weaver, whose position has been newly created, will report to the director of university ethics and compliance and will oversee compliance with University policies and procedures focused on the protection of children who participate in youth programs at Penn State. Weaver began in her new position on July 1.

“Sandy is an excellent choice for this position, and will play an integral role in Penn State’s Office of University Ethics and Compliance,” said Regis Becker, director of university ethics and compliance. “Sandy brings with her significant experience in compliance, child advocacy and welfare at a national level and with large, complex organizations. Combined, her experiences have created a strong foundation that will serve the University well.”

Weaver’s position was created as part of the ongoing work to implement changes and improvements in many parts of the University, including youth activities. In her role, she will maintain an inventory of youth activities at all Penn State campus locations, and of all off-campus, University-sponsored youth activities. She also will provide guidance and interpretation of applicable policies, and will review and update procedures based on current best practices, legal updates and policy compliance, among other duties.

Weaver’s professional work includes time in North Carolina’s Administrative Office of the Courts, where she oversaw a group of trained, independent advocates who promoted the best interests of abused, neglected and dependent children within the state court system. Also among her extensive work in compliance and human services, she served as director of program development and compliance for Northwestern Human Services, where she developed policies, procedures and training programs for staff throughout Pennsylvania to ensure ethical interactions with children in their care. She also has long experience in medical education, including seven years with OptumHealth Education, where she oversaw a national program that identified potential areas of risk and ensured that programs were in compliance with all regulatory policies and guidelines.

“I am honored and humbled to have been selected to serve as Penn State’s first youth programs compliance specialist,” Weaver said. “Across the commonwealth, Penn State offers a wide variety of quality educational and enrichment opportunities for youth. As adults, we have a shared responsibility to go above and beyond to protect the children in our communities. I look forward to collaboration with my colleagues in the Office of University Ethics and Compliance and across the University to continue current practices and develop new policies, procedures and programs focused on the protection of youth, regardless of where they are being served.”

Weaver also plans to convene a University-wide youth programs council, focused on developing resources and establishing standardized processes for all individuals involved with youth programming across the University.

Weaver received a bachelor’s degree in education from Mansfield University of Pennsylvania and a master’s degree in psychology from Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania. She has maintained professional associations with several national organizations, including the Global Alliance for Medical Education and the American Society for Training and Development; and leadership roles with the Alliance for Continuing Education in the Health Professions and the National Association of Medical Education Companies. She also is a member of the Society of Corporate Compliance and Ethics, and as a certified Six Sigma Green Belt she brings experience in leading teams to review and improve upon systems and processes as ongoing quality enhancement of programs.

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Penn State and others to use bowl revenues for child protection | Progress

Penn State and others to use bowl revenues for child protection

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Twelve Big Ten schools, including Penn State, each have been given a portion of what would have been Penn State's football bowl revenues from the past season to distribute to child-focused causes they deem appropriate.

Officials in the Big Ten Conference are providing $188,344 to each university to donate to a local organization of their choice, whose primary focus is on protecting children and advocacy on behalf of children. The money for each school represents one-twelfth of the revenue Penn State would have earned during the 2013 bowl season -- a total of nearly $2.3 million -- had the Nittany Lions been allowed to participate.

Penn State was banned from 2013 bowl game participation as part of Big Ten sanctions that were handed down following the investigation of child sexual abuse by former Penn State assistant coach Jerry Sandusky. The NCAA also banned the Nittany Lions football program from competing in postseason play for four years and imposed a series of penalties and corrective actions.

Penn State has opted to channel its funds through the Centre County United Way with instructions to split the money equally between the Stewards of Children program and the Children's Advocacy Center.

Stewards of Children is an awareness program that teaches adults how to prevent, recognize and report child sexual abuse. The program is designed for organizations that serve youth and for individuals concerned about the safety of children. It is the only nationally distributed, evidence-based program proven to increase knowledge, improve attitudes and change child protective behaviors.

"This is a transformational gift that will assure Stewards of Children continues in Centre County and that we meet and exceed our goal of training 5 percent of all residents," said Tammy Gentzel, executive director of the Centre County United Way. "Increasing awareness among adults in our community will help to ensure that all children in the county live in a safe environment."

The Centre County United Way, Centre County Women’s Resource Center, Centre County Youth Service Bureau and YMCA of Centre County have partnered to bring the program to county residents, with a goal of training 5,000 adults -- the “tipping” point that will ensure that every child in the county has contact with an adult who has received training to create and maintain a safe environment for our youth.

The Children's Advocacy Center, an idea originally fostered by Centre County Judge Bradley P. Lunsford and others, will provide a centralized location for all of the necessary services for children who have been abused, including medical services, and will be operated by Mount Nittany Health in offices located in Bellefonte, Pa. The current process requires multiple interviews of the child with different people at different locations. It also requires the child to travel to receive specialized medical care and exams.

"These funds will further our efforts to protect our children and to minimize the trauma that children experience when they are victimized," Lunsford said. "I am grateful to President Erickson and the Penn State community for recognizing the importance of our endeavors and validating our cause."

"As a community, we must continue to look deeper into the issue of child maltreatment and abuse," said Penn State President Rodney Erickson. "We must commit to continuing to raise awareness, as well as fight these insidious crimes in whatever way possible."

Following its 2011 football season, Penn State formed a partnership with the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape and the National Sexual Violence Resource Center and committed $1.5 million from its share of that year's Big Ten bowl revenues to fund a variety of initiatives, including the Penn State Hershey Center for the Protection of Children.

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Third annual conference on Child Protection and Well-Being set for May 2014 | Progress

Third annual conference on Child Protection and Well-Being set for May 2014

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Penn State’s third annual Conference on Child Protection and Well-Being is scheduled for May 5-6, 2014, at the Nittany Lion Inn on the University Park campus. The two-day conference will focus on “Parenting, Family Processes and Intervention” and feature presentations and panel discussions from top researchers in the field.

Speakers include internationally renowned experts in family studies and child maltreatment research. Four sessions will target an array of topics within the study of family processes and child maltreatment transmission, intervention and prevention.

Conference organizer Douglas Teti, professor of human development, psychology and pediatrics, said he’s pleased with the amount of interest the event has received, and excited to get some of the “greatest minds in the field in one room to talk.”

“We have a pretty impressive agenda lined up,” he said. “It’s going to be a great forum for discussion and learning from a variety of disciplinary directions.”

Conference presenters include researchers, clinicians and practitioners from around the country who together will provide a wealth of knowledge on parent and family factors in child maltreatment.

The topics of the sessions are: (1) Child Maltreatment and Family Processes, (2) Intergenerational Transmission of Child Maltreatment, (3) Intervening with Maltreated Children and Their Families, and (4) Family-Focused Approaches to Preventing Child Maltreatment: Current Efforts, Future Directions.

Public registration, the full agenda and other details on the conference will be released later this year.

Launched in fall 2012 from a recommendation by the Presidential Task Force on Child Maltreatment, the Network on Child Protection and Well-Being is the driving force of the University’s academic activities in research, education and practice aimed at combating child maltreatment. The Network’s mission includes increasing awareness and evidence-based knowledge on the prevention, detection and treatment of child abuse.

The Network will welcome the first three of at least 12 new hires who will bolster Penn State’s expertise in the area. Jennie Noll, who will speak at the conference, and Chad Shenk, both in human development and family studies, and Lori Frasier in pediatrics are the first recruits of the "cluster" hire. They will join the Penn State faculty this fall semester. Idan Shalev, assistant professor of biobehavioral health, will join the Network in the spring.

The conference series will continue the Network’s efforts to target a range of issues pertaining to child maltreatment. On Sept. 25, 2013, Penn State’s second annual conference will bring together district attorneys, children and youth service professionals, law enforcement officials and medical professionals as well as Penn State faculty members to discuss “Protecting Pennsylvania’s Children by Building Multidisciplinary Investigative Teams/Child Advocacy Centers.”

Last October, the University held its inaugural conference, which featured experts in child sexual abuse and child trauma research, prevention and treatment.

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July report on Freeh recommendations shows quick action by Penn State | Progress

July report on Freeh recommendations shows quick action by Penn State

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Penn State officials reported today (July 17) on the rapid implementation of all but one of the 119 changes recommended in a report compiled by independent investigator and federal Judge Louis Freeh in the aftermath of the child sexual abuse committed by former Penn State assistant coach Jerry Sandusky.

The Board of Trustees commissioned Freeh to look into the situation and identify ways to improve Penn State’s responses in the areas of safety and governance and to ensure the highest moral standards and integrity in academics and athletics. The Freeh Report, issued on July 12, 2012 , has resulted in 118 changes ranging from restructuring the governance of its Board of Trustees to expanding the University's Office of Human Resources, while expanding legal and risk reporting protocols.

While 115 of the recommendations are listed as complete, by their nature these changes are actually ongoing and continuous. For example, one recommendation asks that the University continue to benchmark its practices and policies with other similarly situated institutions and to focus on continuous improvement. Initial actions have been taken and these recommendations will continue to receive attention from the Administration Response Team, the Advisory Council and the Board of Trustees.

A complete status update on actions taken is available here.

The Freeh Report was produced by independent law firm Freeh, Sporkin & Sullivan, which was hired in November 2011 and investigated the University's response to the allegations against Sandusky.


Topics: freeh report, freeh, jerry sandusky, freeh report advisory council, board of trustees, the freeh report, louis freeh, feinberg rozen, llp

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Penn State receives initial Clery report | Progress

Penn State receives initial Clery report

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- On July 12, 2013, Penn State received a preliminary report from the U.S. Department of Education based on the program review of the University’s compliance with the Clery Act, a federal law related to campus safety. The program review process, which was launched in November 2011, is ongoing. The Department of Education is required by statute to maintain the confidentiality of this preliminary report in order to facilitate the program review process. The University is committed to fully engaging in the review process and will maintain the confidentiality of the report. The Department of Education will make a final program review determination after this process is complete, at which time more information about the investigation can be made public. The review was sparked by allegations of sex offenses on campus by former football assistant coach Jerry Sandusky. The Department of Education notified the University of the review in a Nov. 9, 2011 letter (http://www.psu.edu/ur/2011/DoE_Letter_110911.pdf ). Since that time, officials across Penn State have provided the review team with access to all requested records and information sources. In addition to unfettered access, Penn State also hired a full-time Clery compliance manager in March 2012, who has been working with leading Clery Act organizations across the country to standardize procedures, establish accountability protocol and create guidelines for individuals, including those identified as Campus Security Authorities, to follow. Penn State also has instituted a mandatory Clery Act training program for employees. The Clery Act requires all higher education institutions in the country to disclose certain information about campus crime and security policies. This includes issuing campus alerts, publishing annual security reports, disclosing missing student protocols, maintaining a daily crime log and a daily fire log, and publishing an annual fire report. The law is aimed at providing students, parents and the public access to safety information, as well as educating and training the university community and instituting policies that enhance safety and security. The federal law is named for Jeanne Clery, a 19-year-old Lehigh University freshman who was raped and murdered by another student in her campus residence hall in 1986.

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Penn State trustees approve resolution to make legal settlement offers | Progress

Penn State trustees approve resolution to make legal settlement offers

LEMONT FURNACE, Pa. -- Today (July 12) Penn State’s Board of Trustees approved a resolution authorizing the University to make settlement offers to a number of individuals who have made claims against the University arising out of actions of former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky. This authorization is limited to offers recommended by the board’s Legal Subcommittee -- an arm of the board’s Legal and Compliance Committee -- within a range of dollar values described to the board in a confidential, attorney-client privileged session.

"Today's action is yet another important step toward the resolution of claims from Sandusky’s victims," said Penn State President Rodney Erickson. "As we have previously said, the University intends to deal with these individuals in a fair and expeditious manner, with due regard to their privacy."

Given the sensitivity of the process, University officials will have no further comment until the settlements have been finalized and mutually acceptable settlement agreements are executed and delivered. No settlement agreements have been signed and the discussions with counsel for the various individuals remain confidential. Penn State has no definitive timetable set for the signed agreements, but officials hope to conclude the process with the majority of the claimants within the next several weeks.

The law firm of Feinberg Rozen LLP was retained to help facilitate the settlements. Feinberg Rozen has received national recognition for helping to resolve mass litigation arising out of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks; the 2010 BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico; and the Virginia Tech shootings in 2007.

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Integrity monitor’s quarterly report notes Penn State’s continued progress | Progress

Integrity monitor’s quarterly report notes Penn State’s continued progress

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – Sen. George Mitchell, the independent, third-party athletics integrity monitor for Penn State, issued his third quarterly report on May 31 regarding the University’s performance under the Athletics Integrity Agreement. The University, the NCAA and the Big Ten Conference entered into the agreement in August as part of the consent decree imposed by the NCAA.
 
"This report validates the significant reforms that have been implemented over the past year, and reflects Penn State’s steadfast and ongoing commitment to integrity and ethical conduct,” said Penn State President Rodney Erickson. “Our Board of Trustees has restructured its governance to be more open and efficient, and we are working to set the bar for our operations in human resources, security, athletics and compliance. There still is more to be done, but we are pleased that our efforts are being praised by Sen. Mitchell and his team, and by other external entities that have an interest in our progress.”
 
Mitchell’s position as athletics integrity monitor was established by the Athletics Integrity Agreement, a document that contains a number of prescriptive measures designed to ensure Penn State continues to meet or exceed all applicable NCAA and Big Ten rules and standards of integrity.
 
The Mitchell report noted Penn State’s continued progress under the agreement, including the implementation of significant structural changes to the Board of Trustees’ governance and oversight procedures. Based on feedback from the Pennsylvania Auditor General, the Middle States Accreditation Commission and the Freeh Group, the board has implemented an expanded committee structure, more oversight, term limits and a new, stricter conflict of interest policy, among other changes. The report lauded the implementation of online training programs for compliance with mandated reporter laws and the Clery Act; and the recent appointment of Julie Del Giorno as Penn State’s athletics integrity officer, and Regis Becker as the new director of University ethics and compliance. Mitchell also noted Penn State’s significant progress in implementing the recommendations of the Freeh Report.
 
Mitchell's team will continue its independent evaluation of Penn State's activities and efforts under the Athletics Integrity Agreement and the NCAA consent decree. Mitchell's five-year appointment as the University's monitor began in August, and a report outlining actions taken is produced on a quarterly basis. Mitchell's previous update was issued March 1.
 
The complete text of the report and information about actions Penn State has taken is available at http://www.dlapiper.com/ncaa_penn_state_report_3/.

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Penn State not party to rumored lawsuit | Progress

Penn State not party to rumored lawsuit

A headline today in the Harrisburg Patriot News implied that Penn State is part of potential legal action that could be taken against the NCAA. To clarify, the University is not a party to any lawsuit against the NCAA that may be filed by the Paterno family. Penn State remains committed to full compliance with the Consent Decree and the Athletics Integrity Agreement. We look forward to continuing to work with Sen. George Mitchell and recognize the important role that intercollegiate athletics provides for our student athletes and the wider University community.  Penn State maintains an unwavering commitment to excellence and integrity in all aspects of our University and continues to be a world-class educational institution of which our students, faculty, staff and alumni can be justifiably proud.

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More progress made by Penn State on completion of Freeh recommendations | Progress

More progress made by Penn State on completion of Freeh recommendations

Penn State released today (May 9) another signpost in its ongoing quest to meet most of the 119 recommendations spelled out in the Freeh Report, a document created in the aftermath of the child sexual abuse committed by former Penn State assistant coach Jerry Sandusky.

The recommendations in the report, which identify ways to improve Penn State’s responses in the areas of safety and governance, have been followed carefully by University administrators and members of the Board of Trustees who continue to evaluate and review all areas of the University identified in the report as having some need for improvement. Penn State has already changed or implemented numerous administrative policies and procedures; hired new safety and compliance personnel; restructured the governance of its Board of Trustees; expanded its Office of Human Resources; implemented background checks; expanded legal and risk reporting protocols; and a host of other initiatives all aimed at enhancing operations at the University.

For a complete status update on actions taken, visit http://progress.psu.edu/assets/content/FreehReportUpdateMay2013.pdf.

The Freeh Report was produced by independent law firm Freeh, Sporkin & Sullivan, which was hired in November 2011 and investigated the University's response to the allegations against Sandusky. The group was led by former FBI director and federal Judge Louis Freeh.


Topics: freeh report, freeh report advisory council, the freeh report

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Penn State Trustees approve changes to impact governance of University | Progress

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.


Topics: administration, board of trustees

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Employee training for child abuse prevention and reporting now online | Progress

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.


Topics: progress, administration, human resources

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Penn State continues work toward meeting Freeh recommendations | Progress

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.


Topics: administration, freeh, sandusky, freeh report, progress

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University responds to Sandusky segment on Today show | Progress

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."


Topics: jerry sandusky

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Becker named as first director of University ethics and compliance | Progress

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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Integrity monitor's report updated; Penn State progress noted | Progress

Integrity monitor’s report updated; Penn State progress noted

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Sen. George Mitchell, the independent third-party athletics integrity monitor for Penn State, today (March 1) issued his second quarterly report regarding the University's performance under the Athletics Integrity Agreement, which was entered into in August by the University, the NCAA and the Big Ten Conference as part of the consent decree imposed by the NCAA.

“This report continues to evidence Penn State’s ongoing commitment to integrity, responsibility and ethical conduct, as well as the significant progress that Penn State has made and continues to make since July,” said University President Rodney Erickson. “We still have more to do, but we’re gratified that Sen. Mitchell and his team recognize all that we have done and that we are committed to continuing these efforts, in full compliance with the consent decree and the Athletics Integrity Agreement.”

Mitchell's position as athletics integrity monitor was established by the Athletics Integrity Agreement, a document that contains a number of prescriptive measures designed to ensure Penn State continues to meet all applicable NCAA and Big Ten rules and standards of integrity.Part of these measures called for the recent hire of Julie Del Giorno as Penn State's athletics integrity officer. On an ongoing basis, Del Giorno will be responsible for the development, implementation and oversight of policies and practices within Penn State's Department of Intercollegiate Athletics that ensure compliance and ethical conduct.

Sen. Mitchell's team will continue its independent evaluation of Penn State's activities and efforts under the Athletics Integrity Agreement and the NCAA consent decree. Mitchell's five-year appointment as the University's monitor began in August, and a report outlining actions taken is produced on a quarterly basis. Mitchell's previous update was issued on Nov. 30.

The complete text of the report and information about actions Penn State has taken is available at www.dlapiper.com.


Topics: ncaa, athletics integrity agreement

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Freeh investigation findings used to improve Penn State operations | Progress

Freeh investigation findings used to improve Penn State operations

In November 2011, the Penn State Board of Trustees appointed former FBI director and federal Judge Louis Freeh to conduct an independent investigation of the University's response to the allegations of sexual abuse committed by former Penn State assistant coach Jerry Sandusky. The goal of this investigation was to uncover facts and identify where failures occurred in the University's governance and compliance structure and to make recommendations to help ensure that such failures never happen again. This was an internal investigation into Penn State's response to the allegations.

It was not within the scope of Judge Freeh's engagement to review the actions, motives or functions of entities outside of our University community. This was an internal investigation into Penn State's response to the allegations, and that is how the University has utilized the report.

As a result of the investigation, 119 recommendations were made to Penn State in areas such as safety and governance. To date, the University has implemented a majority of those recommendations, which are helping to make the University stronger and more accountable. The University intends to implement substantially all of the Freeh recommendations by the end of 2013.

It is understandable and appreciated that people will draw their own conclusions and opinions from the facts uncovered in the Freeh report.


Topics: freeh, bot, board of trustees, judge louis freeh, freeh report

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Penn State officials provide update on Freeh report recommendations - Jan. 31 | Progress

Penn State officials provide update on Freeh report recommendations - Jan. 31

Penn State officials provide update on Freeh report recommendations - Jan. 31

Today Penn State officials provided the latest in a series of ongoing updates on the status of the 119 recommendations made to the University by the Freeh Group. Since the last update, an additional 17 recommendations have been completed. This includes recommendations that are categorized as “Ongoing/Continuous,” indicating that the University’s response and management of such matters will be ongoing.

University officials have previously said they intend to implement the Freeh recommendations by the end of 2013 and the status of completed items to-date shows the commitment to reaching that goal.

A complete update of status and actions Penn State has taken based on the recommendations is available here and will be updated monthly.


Topics: freeh report, freeh report advisory council, president rodney erickson, louis freeh, university policies, board of trustees, freeh matrix

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Penn State hiring faculty to advance prevention of child maltreatment | Progress

Penn State hiring faculty to advance prevention of child maltreatment

UNIVERSITY PARK, PA. -- Penn State will be hiring a dozen new faculty members over the next three years as part of its recently launched Network for Child Protection and Well-Being, with the goal of advancing knowledge, practice, education and outreach to combat child abuse.

As part of its aspiration to be at the forefront of national efforts toward prevention and therapy for child maltreatment, the University has begun a "cluster" hire that will include clinical and research tenure-track faculty members who are focused on the complex and pervasive problem of child maltreatment.

"As a university dedicated to the discovery of knowledge that can address difficult social and human problems, we will hire up to 12 new faculty over the next three years to improve the chances of eradicating these wrongs against children. This academic initiative will build on Penn State's longstanding tradition of interdisciplinary collaboration and excellence in the area of children, youth and families," said Penn State President Rodney Erickson. "The child maltreatment field is extremely small and within that discipline, the research into child sexual abuse is even smaller. Penn State can make a significant contribution by helping to educate the next generation of researchers and clinicians about working together to address this challenging problem.”

Erickson said the goal of the new hires is to not only bring new expertise to the University, but to also spur existing faculty to think about their own research and its implications for child maltreatment. Penn State already counts among its ranks at least 400 faculty members whose research, teaching and service focus on the well-being and development of children and youth. The newly hired faculty are expected to connect with existing University researchers to draw on their expertise in areas such as prevention, research methods and statistics, neuroscience, and family dynamics to advance knowledge in child maltreatment. The work of the whole will serve as a catalyst for faculty to incorporate study of child maltreatment into their ongoing research programs.

"Researchers across Penn State can be a part of national and international efforts aimed at combating child maltreatment," said Susan McHale, director of the Children, Youth and Families Consortium (CYFC), a unit within the University’s Social Science Research Institute (SSRI).

In fact, the CYFC with the 400-plus faculty members will serve as the umbrella organization, linking faculty and their collaborative activities within various units and disciplines as part of the Network for Child Protection and Well-Being. Network faculty will be focused on generating new knowledge about child abuse in all of its forms, including creating evidence-based prevention and therapy approaches.

The proposal for forming the University-wide Network was developed by the Presidential Task Force on Child Maltreatment. Charged by President Erickson in December 2011, the Task Force was comprised of 35 faculty members from colleges and schools across the University.

McHale, who coordinates the Network, said that Penn State has a longstanding tradition of excellence of research, teaching, clinical practice and outreach focused on children, youth and families. The Network is designed to build on the strengths of four Centers of Excellence in Children, Youth and Families at Penn State: The Child Study Center in the College of the Liberal Arts; The Center for the Protection of Children in the College of Medicine; The Prevention Research Center in the College of Health and Human Development; and the Center for Children and the Law at the Dickinson School of Law. Faculty members who join Penn State as part of the Network cluster hire will be affiliated with one or more of these centers.

"Penn State has a solid foundation of research and practice in child behavior, health and development. But to advance Penn State's capacity we need more researchers and clinicians whose primary focus is on child maltreatment, " said Benjamin Levi, director of the Penn State Hershey Center for the Protection of Children, a part of Penn State Hershey's Children's Hospital.

"We are in an excellent position to build upon Penn State's existing faculty expertise for how to intervene with parents at risk for mistreating their children; identifying protective factors that reduce the risk of child abuse; and developing and implementing sustainable, evidence-based strategies for detection, diagnosis, prevention and therapy for children who have suffered maltreatment," Levi said. A professor of pediatrics and humanities at Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center and Penn State College of Medicine. Levi became director of the Center for the Protection of Children in August.

Network coordinator McHale said possible growth opportunities within the Network include fellowships in child abuse; educational opportunities for Penn State students, including new courses and programs of study, as well as internships; and the ability through clinical work and outreach to put new knowledge to work in community settings.

"We will work hard to make all of our efforts useful to community members and institutions," McHale said. "Our research and practices must be informed by community needs and by community partners if we are ever going to make a difference in the lives of vulnerable children."

More information on the Network on Child Protection and Well-Being can be found at http://www.ssri.psu.edu/thenetwork online.

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Penn State names athletics integrity officer | Progress

Penn State names athletics integrity officer

Penn State names athletics integrity officer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Julie Del Giorno, chief of staff at Moravian College and Moravian Theological Seminary in Bethlehem, Pa., has been named athletics integrity officer at Penn State. Del Giorno, whose position has been newly created, will be responsible for the development, implementation and oversight of policies and practices within the Department of Intercollegiate Athletics that ensure compliance and ethical conduct. She will begin work on a part-time basis in March and will commence full-time work in her position on April 1.

"Julie is an outstanding choice for this position," said Penn State President Rodney Erickson. "As she begins her work here at Penn State, she will draw on more than two decades of experience in higher education and the U.S. military. Her track record of success in athletics oversight and operations, student affairs, logistics and institutional planning has given her valuable experience that will serve the University well."

Del Giorno’s position was created as part of the University’s work to fulfill the requirements of the Athletics Integrity Agreement entered into in August 2012 among the NCAA, the Big Ten and Penn State. The position will be in addition to the compliance officer already working within Intercollegiate Athletics. Del Giorno will oversee compliance with obligations of integrity, civility, ethics and institutional control. The position is expected to report to the University-wide chief compliance officer, a position currently being filled by the University.

Beginning in 2006, Del Giorno served as the senior administrator with athletic oversight for the Moravian College NCAA Division III Intercollegiate Athletics program, working to ensure compliance with NCAA rules and related institutional standards. She also served as the college’s chief of staff, with responsibilities for implementing administrative initiatives across the organization, as liaison to the Board of Trustees and served as the college’s Title IX coordinator, among other duties.

"I am honored and humbled to be selected to serve as the first ever athletics integrity officer at Penn State," Del Giorno said. "I will commit myself fully to the position and will work diligently to ensure that policies, procedures and practices are developed and implemented that will ensure Penn State’s compliance with the requirements set forth in the Athletics Integrity Agreement. I look forward to working in partnership with members of the Department of Intercollegiate Athletics, to include student-athletes, and with members of the faculty and staff on this critical work."

Previous to her time at Moravian College, Del Giorno served as interim vice president for student affairs at East Stroudsburg University, in East Stroudsburg, Pa., where she was responsible for providing leadership and guidance to the Division of Student Affairs and its programs. Also at East Stroudsburg, DelGiorno served as assistant to the president and academic coordinator for Intercollegiate Athletics.

She has held coaching positions at the University of Central Arkansas, and coaching and administrative positions at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. From 1986 to 1995, Del Giorno served as a commissioned officer in the U.S. Army, including tours of duty during combat operations in the Persian Gulf War and in Somalia. She is a recipient of the U.S. Army’s Bronze Star Medal.

She earned a master of business administration degree from the University of Central Arkansas in 1998; a bachelor of science degree from the U.S. Military Academy in 1986; and is a 2000 graduate of the National Association of Collegiate Women Athletics Administrators (NACWAA) / Higher Education Resource Services (HERS) Institute for Administrative Advancement.

She maintains professional associations with the NACWAA and the National Association of Presidential Assistants in Higher Education (NAPAHE).


Topics: athletics integrity agreement

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Penn State Trustees to undertake governance review | Progress

Penn State Trustees to undertake governance review

Discussions about changes in the governance of Penn State were part of both committee meetings and the regular meeting of the University’s Board of Trustees on Jan. 17 and 18 on the University Park campus. James Broadhurst, chairman of the Committee on Governance and Long-Range Planning for the board, made the following statement in relation to recommendations for enhancing governance:

"As part of an ongoing effort to improve governance, the Board of Trustees has been considering reforms to strengthen its ability to act as stewards of the University. In addition to internal deliberations and review, the board has heard from several stakeholders and outside experts on best practices for governance. Trustees take all of these insights very seriously and appreciate a collaborative point of view.

As directed by the chairman of the Board, the Governance Committee is conducting a comprehensive review of these insights and then, over the course of the next two board meetings, will develop a specific set of reform recommendations to present to the Board of Trustees for action. These recommendations will be made public at that time.

The Governance Committee and the entire Board of Trustees recognize the need for meaningful reform and are committed to establishing a structure that addresses the needs of our students, faculty, staff and alumni."

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University issues statement regarding state's lawsuit against NCAA | Progress

University issues statement regarding state’s lawsuit against NCAA

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett today (Jan. 2) announced the filing of a federal lawsuit by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania against the NCAA over its sanctions against Penn State in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal. Penn State is not a party to the lawsuit and has not been involved in its preparation or filing.
 
University officials said, "The University is committed to full compliance with the Consent Decree, the Athletics Integrity Agreement and, as appropriate, the implementation of the Freeh report recommendations. We look forward to continuing to work with Sen. George Mitchell as the athletic integrity monitor for complete fulfillment of the Athletics Integrity Agreement.  We recognize the important role that intercollegiate athletics provides for our student athletes and the wider University community.  Penn State continues to move forward with an unwavering commitment to excellence and integrity in all aspects of our University and continues to be a world-class educational institution of which our students, faculty, staff and alumni can be justifiably proud."


Topics: tom corbett, ncaa, ncaa lawsuit, jerry sandusky, consent decree

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Penn State Continues Settlement Process with Feinberg Rozen | Progress

Penn State Continues Settlement Process with Feinberg Rozen

The University announced today, December 21, 2012, that the settlement process initiated by the University with the assistance of Kenneth R. Feinberg and Michael K. Rozen would continue into 2013. “This is a highly complex and sensitive matter that we are committed to completing in a fair, responsible and timely manner” said President Rodney A. Erickson. “We are pleased with the progress so far and remain hopeful that the process will result in settlement of many of the civil cases so that the victims will not have to be drawn through the legal process.”
 
“Michael and I are encouraged by the constructive dialogue that we have had with various Penn State representatives and lawyers involved in these cases,” said Feinberg. “We look forward to continuing our efforts to help the parties reach a mutually satisfactory resolution of the claims.”
 
Further discussions among the parties and Feinberg Rozen are scheduled for January.


Topics: president rodey erickson, kenneth r. feinberg, michael k. rozen, feinberg rozen, llp, settlement

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Penn State Sets Aside First Payment of NCAA Fine | Progress

Penn State Sets Aside First Payment of NCAA Fine

Today (Dec. 20), at the NCAA’s request, Penn State set aside the first $12 million installment of the $60 million fine imposed by the NCAA into a money market account. The deposit into the account will allow sufficient time for the NCAA’s Child Sexual Abuse Endowment Task Force to develop policy recommendations that will govern the structure and operational philosophies of the endowment to be created related to the Consent Decree. The Child Sexual Abuse Endowment Task Force, chaired by University of California-Riverside Chancellor Tim White, will choose a third-party administrator sometime this spring, which will be responsible for the long-term management of the endowment, including the awarding of dollars to programs through the life of the endowment.

This first payment was made by the Athletics Department through an internal loan from the University’s reserves and carries an interest rate of 4 percent for 30 years.  Interest rates and loan durations for the future payments to the endowment will not be determined until each payment is made year-by-year, and will based on interest rates in effect at the time of disbursement and other conditions.

The actual transfer of funds from the University to the endowment is expected to occur in the first half of 2013.

The Task Force will decide how the endowment is structured, develop philosophies for allocation of funds and create policies for investment and distribution of benefits.  The Task Force will also consider reporting and accountability standards.  

Penn State has heard from a number of organizations and survivors of sexual abuse who have expressed their support for the positive impact this endowment will have and ideas on how the funds can be used to benefit children in Pennsylvania and across the country.  At least 25 percent of the annual disbursements will be used solely to benefit qualifying organizations in Pennsylvania and in-state organizations will receive the first round of funding released by the endowment.


Topics: ncaa, child sexual abuse endowment task force, tim white

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Compliance concerns hotline, website always open | Progress

Compliance concerns hotline, website always open

Compliance concerns hotline, website always open

The University community is reminded that concerns related to financial, human resources, athletics, research and affirmative action issues can be filed anonymously 24 hours a day, seven days a week to Compliance Concepts Inc. (CCI) at 800-560-1637 or www.mycompliancereport.com/brand/psu.

Notifications of reports received by CCI are sent to the University's Office of Internal Audit for review. Financial matters are investigated by the Office of Internal Audit, and non-financial matters are directed to the appropriate University department for action. Included in the area of athletic issues are matters related to the Athletics Integrity Agreement and any of the areas listed in that agreement with respect to Athletic Department policies and procedure, NCAA constitution and bylaws, the Big Ten handbook, and matters related to the principles regarding institutional control, responsibility, ethical conduct and integrity. This system also allows for University personnel investigating the concern to ask questions of the person making the report. All reports are thoroughly investigated until there is a final resolution and resolutions are issued through CCI's secure online system.

The use of CCI's services allows for the anonymity of the individual reporting the concerns to maintain an ethical workplace without fear of retaliation. At the same time, it allows the pertinent details of the concern to be fully investigated by the University and corrective action to be taken if needed. Individuals are assigned a unique code that will allow them to follow up to determine the outcome of their concern or to provide additional information if they choose to do so.


Topics: compliance report

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NCAA task force sets timeline for endowment fund | Progress

NCAA task force sets timeline for endowment fund

The task force charged by the NCAA to set up policies for the endowment being created from the $60 million NCAA-imposed fine against Penn State met Dec. 3 and reports that an administrator of the fund will be selected by spring.

At the NCAA’s request, Penn State will set aside the first $12 million installment of the fine on Dec. 20 in a money market account to allow sufficient time for the task force to develop policy recommendations that will govern the endowment’s structure and operational philosophies.

As part of the consent decree issued by the NCAA in the wake of child abuse charges against Jerry Sandusky, the NCAA mandated that Penn State become a national leader to help victims of child sexual assault across the nation. Specifically, the University will pay $12 million a year for the next five years into a special endowment created to fund programs for the detection, prevention and treatment of child abuse.

For more information from the NCAA about the Dec. 3 meeting and progress made, visit http://www.ncaa.org/wps/wcm/connect/public/ncaa/resources/latest+news/2012/december/task+force+sets+timeline+for+endowment+fund or go to http://live.psu.edu/story/63118.


Topics: consent decree, ncaa, ncaa task force

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Monitor announces delivery of first quarterly report to Penn State, the NCAA and the Big Ten Conf. | Progress

Monitor announces delivery of first quarterly report to Penn State, the NCAA and the Big Ten Conf.

Monitor announces delivery of first quarterly report to Penn State, the NCAA and the Big Ten Conf.

Senator George J. Mitchell and his law firm, DLA Piper LLP (US), announced that today he has delivered his first quarterly report as the independent athletics integrity monitor under the athletics integrity agreement dated August 28, 2012 among The Pennsylvania State University, the National Collegiate Athletic Association, and the Big Ten Conference.

The first report describes Penn State’s progress during the initial 90-day period under the AIA in implementing both the integrity program required by the AIA and recommendations for reform that were set forth in the July 2012 report by Freeh Sporkin & Sullivan LLP.  The Freeh report concerned allegations of sexual abuse of minors by Gerald A. Sandusky, a former assistant football coach at Penn State.  The monitor’s report concludes that Penn State has made significant progress in implementing the required reforms during this initial period while also recognizing that much work remains to be done.

“Based on our work to date,” Senator Mitchell said, “Penn State’s Board of Trustees and its administration appear determined to implement, swiftly and in good faith, the recommendations for reform that were identified in the Freeh report and to fulfill the commitments that the University made in the AIA.  Penn State has dedicated substantial time and resources to accomplishing these objectives.  It is too soon to judge the ultimate result.  But I believe that Penn State is off to a very good start.”

“The University also has demonstrated a commitment as an institution to addressing the grave problem of child abuse that the Sandusky case laid bare,” Senator Mitchell continued.  “There appears to be unanimity within the Penn State community that one outcome of this tragedy should be greater awareness of the prevalence of child abuse in society generally and the devotion of more University resources to prevent it where Penn State can play a role in doing so.”

The AIA implements provisions of the binding consent decree issued by the NCAA against Penn State on July 23, 2012.  Senator Mitchell was named the independent athletics integrity monitor after the consent decree was finalized.  The monitor performs an independent role and is not an agent of Penn State, the NCAA, or the Big Ten Conference.  The AIA contemplates that the monitor will serve for a term of five years, but that term can be extended or shortened by the NCAA.  The monitor will provide quarterly written reports to Penn State, the NCAA, and the Big Ten Conference during his tenure.

Senator Mitchell is the chairman emeritus of DLA Piper, an international business law firm with 4,200 lawyers practicing in 31 countries and 77 offices throughout the Americas, UK, continental Europe, Middle East, Asia, and Australia.


Topics: george mitchell, freeh report, senator mitchell, board of trustees, dla piper

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Penn State announces 2011 compensation for former president Spanier | Progress

Penn State announces 2011 compensation for former president Spanier

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Penn State today (Nov. 28) released details of former President Graham Spanier’s compensation for calendar year 2011, including a severance package established in his earlier employment agreement and triggered by his removal from office on Nov. 9, 2011.

The University reported total taxable income for Spanier of $3,255,762 in 2011.  This includes his $700,000 annual salary; and $82,557 of taxable benefits, as well as non-recurring compensation of $2,473,205 that Spanier was contractually entitled to under the terms of his 2010 employment agreement. Such non-recurring compensation includes contractually entitled severance payments of $1,225,000 and $1,248,205 of deferred compensation earned over Spanier's 16-plus years as University president.  Actual payment of the net amount of the deferred compensation after required tax withholdings ($860,637) will be deferred until June 2017.

The severance package also will be included in information provided in the University’s Right to Know form to be filed with the state in May 2013.

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Penn State officials provide update on Freeh report recommendations | Progress

Penn State officials provide update on Freeh report recommendations

Penn State officials provide update on Freeh report recommendations

Penn State officials today provided the second update on the 119 recommendations made to the University in a report by the Freeh Group, noting that more than one-half of the recommendations have been completed to date. The number of completed recommendations includes several that are categorized as “Ongoing/Continuous,” signifying that by their nature, the University’s response to such recommendations will be ongoing.

“We continue to make great progress in assessing and implementing the Freeh report recommendations,” said Penn State President Rodney Erickson. “I’m pleased with the strong collaboration that has been demonstrated across all of our departments and proud that in just four months, we have been able to complete half of the recommendations.”

The 119 Freeh recommendations were made as a result of an independent internal investigation performed by Louis Freeh in the wake of the sexual abuse scandal of former retired assistant coach Jerry Sandusky. The recommendations are intended to strengthen University policies and performance in areas such as safety and governance. As officials have previously noted, each of the recommendations has been assigned to one or more individuals within the University administration for review, analysis and possible implementation, and each area will receive oversight and progress monitoring by one of the standing committees of the Board of Trustees. University officials have said they intend to implement the Freeh recommendations by the end of 2013.

A complete update of status and actions Penn State has taken based on the recommendations is available here and will be updated monthly.
 


Topics: freeh report, freeh report advisory council, president rodney erickson, louis freeh, university policies, board of trustees, freeh matrix

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Penn State takes action to exceed Clery Act requirements | Progress

Penn State takes action to exceed Clery Act requirements

Penn State’s Clery compliance coordinator, Gabriel Gates, said the University “strives to exceed the requirements of the Clery Act,” a federal law related to campus safety, during a presentation today (Nov. 16) to the Board of Trustees.

“We aim to build a higher education community standard of excellence,” Gates said about his work providing administrative and advisory support to senior management and the University-wide community. “We attempt to create an open and proactive forum that will raise awareness of campus safety initiatives and crime prevention techniques.”

The Clery Act requires all higher education institutions in the country to disclose certain information about campus crime and security policies. This includes issuing campus alerts, publishing annual security reports, disclosing missing student protocols, maintaining a daily crime log and a daily fire log, and publishing an annual fire report, Gates said.

As coordinator for Clery compliance on all of Penn State’s campuses, Gates collaborates with various offices across the University to develop and implement strategies to ensure adherence to the 1990 law. The law is aimed at providing students, parents and the public access to safety information, as well as educating and training the university community and instituting policies that enhance safety and security.

Gates is meeting these Clery goals by developing relationships with the two leading Clery Act organizations in the country – the Clery Center for Security on Campus in Wayne, Pa., and Margolis Healy & Associates in Richmond, Va., a professional services firm specializing in campus security. As Clery coordinator, Gates has launched a Clery Act training program at Penn State and increased awareness of the law’s requirements. He is working on standardizing reporting procedures and guidelines and establishing accountability by providing resources that will improve safety and security oversight.

“Our holistic approach will become a benchmark for other institutions,” Gates told the Trustees.

To read Penn State’s Annual Security Report, visit http://www.police.psu.edu/cleryact/documents/UniversityParkPolicySafetyU2012.pdf.


Topics: gabriel gates, clery compliance coordinator, clery act, annual security report

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Board approves athletics code of conduct | Progress

Board approves athletics code of conduct

Penn State’s Board of Trustees today (Nov. 16) approved a code of conduct for intercollegiate athletics, as required by the Athletics Integrity Agreement entered into by the University, the NCAA and the Big Ten Conference as part of the consent decree imposed by the NCAA and accepted by the University. The code brings together policies and procedures that already in place at the University.

The code of conduct applies to all coaches, managers and student-athletes of NCAA-sanctioned Division I intercollegiate athletics teams; University employees directly involved with intercollegiate athletics teams; the University Board of Trustees; the President of the University; and all members of the athletic director’s executive committee.

The purpose of the code “is to serve as a guidepost to direct the ethical bearing of the athletics department.” It was drafted to reflect the athletics department’s mission, vision and core values of integrity, respect and honor, as well as the Penn State Principles, a document shared with the entire University community that spells out the values that Penn State embraces.

All covered individuals under the code must comply with University policies and procedures; the Intercollegiate Athletics Policy Manual; applicable NCAA constitution and bylaws and Big Ten Handbook; and all applicable laws, rules and regulations. Additionally, all those covered by the code must report through designated methods suspected violations of policies and rules.

In addition, the code of conduct requires student-athletes to adhere to the University’s Student Code of Conduct and team rules established by the head coach.

The code states that coaches and managers will not have any hiring or supervisory role with regard to academic support staff, nor apply pressure to faculty or any member of the academic support staff on behalf of a student-athlete. They also may not play a role in hiring or supervising, or apply pressure to, compliance staff. While coaches may recommend qualified student-athletes for admission, they may not attempt to pressure admissions staff to admit an applicant.

Coaches and athletics department administrators and staff must “give full and active support to the educational aims of the University, cooperate fully in support of the faculty on eligibility requirements and insist that all student-athletes fulfill the same academic requirements as all other students at the University,” according to the code of conduct.

Individually and collectively, the Board of Trustees, according to the code, also must adhere to the board’s charter, bylaws and standing orders. Board members shall also “fulfill their fiduciary responsibility to oversee the implementation of the Athletics Department’s policies and procedures, and to uphold the integrity of the intercollegiate athletics program and its alignment with the academic mission of Penn State.”

The code of conduct additionally provides that the president of the University must adhere to NCAA Bylaws, Article 22.2.1.1(b), which states that the University president “is assigned ultimate responsibility and authority for the operation, fiscal integrity and personnel of the athletics program.”

The president also will communicate to the Board of Trustees regarding the integrity of the athletics program, the ethical conduct of individuals covered by the code of conduct and the president’s fulfillment of related responsibilities. With input from faculty, the president must uphold academic and eligibility standards reflecting Penn State’s high academic values and vision.

The code of conduct includes the strict non-retaliation and non-retribution policy of the University and the athletics department for anyone who takes action he or she believes necessary to uphold or enforce compliance with the code of conduct and applicable rules, regulations, laws and principles.


Topics: code of conduct

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Penn State's accreditation reaffirmed, University now off warning list | Progress

Penn State’s accreditation reaffirmed, University now off warning list

Penn State is in full compliance with all accreditation requirements, according to the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE), which has lifted its 'warning' and Thursday (Nov. 15) reaffirmed the University's accreditation.

While Penn State's accreditation always remained intact, the University was put on warning by MSCHE on Aug. 8, based on the fallout from the sexual abuse scandal involving retired former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky.

"When notified of the warning we were confident we could verify our ongoing commitment to integrity, stable leadership and financial security -- the areas that Middle States had questioned. I'm grateful that these areas of strength have now been validated by Middle States," said Penn State President Rodney Erickson. "While the excellence of our educational programs was never in question, it is reassuring that Middle States continues to recognize Penn State as a world-class academic institution that is stepping up to meet its current challenges."

In reaffirming Penn State's accreditation, the commission requested a monitoring report, due Nov. 1, 2013, documenting the University's continued progress in implementing leadership and governance reforms, and in addressing financial obligations related to the current situation.

Middle States evaluators visited the University in mid-October. Led by William E. "Brit" Kirwan, chancellor for the University System of Maryland, the evaluating team determined that Penn State is responding appropriately to the leadership, governance and financial challenges created by the fallout from the Jerry Sandusky sex abuse scandal. The evaluation team's report states it is "impressed by the degree to which Penn State has risen, as a strong campus community, to the sad events that led to its placement on 'warning' status by the MSCHE." It also said Penn State's process to respond to the Freeh recommendations has been "thorough, inclusive, systematic and timely."

The Middle States site-visit report said that Penn State meets all quality standards for accreditation, commending the University's resilience, fiscal stability and rapid change in the face of numerous challenges.

The commission's notification in August followed the release of the Freeh Report and $60 million in fines and sanctions levied by the NCAA. The Freeh Report, the result of an independent internal investigation, made 119 recommendations to strengthen University policies and performance in areas such as safety and governance.

The evaluators also commended the entire Penn State community for "its response to tragic events in a way that, to date, has emphasized unity and positive change over recrimination."

The commission also examined the University's capacity and plans for addressing financial obligations related to not only the sanctions, but also potential lawsuits from victims and other costs associated with the scandal. To date, the University has expended more than $20 million on the Freeh study and other related costs.

"It is fortunate that Penn State has been fiscally conservative for a number of years -- the institution's fiscal stability is supported as well by Penn State's continuing success in securing external research support and in private fundraising, as well as by the University's ongoing ability to attract a strong pool of student applicants, none of which appears to have been impacted negatively by the events of the last year," the report stated.

The evaluation team also noted that Penn State has broad insurance coverage that should provide a source of funding for much of the costs associated with settling lawsuits and related costs.

"Since August, we have worked vigorously to document all that we have done and are doing to meet the Freeh recommendations and the standards of the MSCHE," said Erickson. "Currently, we are nearly half of the way through responding to and addressing those 119 recommendations."

Other notable areas of the team evaluation that impacted the commission's decision were:

  • Swift changes made in leadership positions both within the Board of Trustees and among key administrative officers;
  • Changes to Board structure and processes;
  • Efforts to increase awareness of child abuse and sexual assault across the University;
  • The creation of new positions to ensure campus knowledge of and compliance with laws and regulations; and
  • The development and revision of numerous policies to address concerns related to integrity.

For more information on the Middle States process and recent actions relative to the University, visit http://www.psu.edu/vpaa/accreditation.htm online.


Topics: accreditation, msche, president rodney erickson, middle states commission on higher education

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Penn State President Rodney Erickson addresses the National Press Club | Progress

Penn State President Rodney Erickson addresses the National Press Club

Penn State President Rodney Erickson addresses the National Press Club

Penn State President Rodney Erickson provided a status report on the state of the University and a look into the future of higher education in a major speech today (Nov. 2) to the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.

As part of the club's Speakers Luncheon Series, Erickson highlighted what the University has learned from the child sex abuse scandal, reforms it has put in place, and its ongoing commitment to its core mission of teaching, research and service. Following is the full text of Erickson's speech.

Erickson’s speech follows the University’s Oct. 29-30 conference on child sexual abuse, which brought together some of the nation’s top experts in child sexual abuse research, prevention, and treatment, as well as survivors, for a forum on this national challenge.

Following is the full text of Erickson's speech.

To view video excerpts of the speech please go to Penn State's YouTube channel at the following links:


Rodney A. Erickson
National Press Club
November 2, 2012

Thank you, President Werner, for your kind introduction, as well as your flexibility in rescheduling this event, given the weather challenges of this week.

I’m honored to be here, and I appreciate your interest in Penn State and higher education. A special welcome to all of the Penn Staters here, along with those of you covering education issues. We need your continued engagement. Again, thank you for joining us.

According to Google News, there are over 45,000 stories about Penn State and Sandusky. You’ve written them. You’ve read them. And I imagine that most of you have formed an opinion about Penn State and our actions over the last year.

But beyond the headlines, there’s another reality…one that exists for Penn State’s 96,000 students, 44,000 full- and part-time faculty and staff, and over 550,000 living alumni. It’s a world of teaching, research and service. It’s a world with an $800 million research program, hundreds of degrees offered, 24 campuses, an online World Campus, an academic health center, a law school, and 157 years of tradition. It’s also a world that has continued to face ongoing controversy surrounding Jerry Sandusky, our Board of Trustees, current and former administrators, and me. The legal process continues to unfold as evidenced by the Attorney General’s further charges leveled yesterday.

Today, I want to tell you something about my world -- with the realities of running an institution the size and scope of Penn State, while dealing with widely divergent perceptions. I want to share the many wonderful activities and accomplishments of our students, faculty and staff over this agonizing year. By any reasonable definition, they are newsworthy stories. But I understand that you may not be willing to listen to them until we show you how this year has changed us.

What have we learned about ourselves? And what are we trying to do with that knowledge?

I will speak candidly about how the last year has affected Penn State, and how the impact has gone beyond Central Pennsylvania to shape policies at colleges and universities across the nation. Then I’ll share our strategies for the year ahead.

To begin, let me take you back to last year when Penn State received the repugnant news that a former assistant coach had molested young boys, in some instances on our campus.

Immediately, as they did with all of you, our thoughts turned to the victims of these horrific crimes. And, in the days that followed, we saw the removal of the senior leaders of our university and athletic program, including the popular president and iconic football coach.

At the time, I was serving as the executive vice president and provost, a position I have often called the best job in higher education. My retirement was within my sights.

When the Board of Trustees asked me to serve as president, I accepted, knowing full well that the months ahead would explore uncharted territory for our university. Many times I’ve been asked, “Why did you say yes?!”

The answer has never changed. I’ve devoted 35 years of my professional life to Penn State. My children attended Penn State. I believe deeply in our mission and our ability to contribute to the greater good. I knew I needed to step up and serve. I also knew that Penn State is a great university that will endure as it has always endured, will recover, and will continue to advance teaching, research and service.

In those early weeks, I heard from Penn State’s many constituents -- through more than 5,000 emails and letters, and hundreds of phone calls and personal contacts. People were shocked, upset, concerned, disappointed and yet supportive of our university.

Meanwhile, as the story played out in the media, in alumni circles, and in every corner of our campuses, voices that had remained silent for many years began to speak up. Victims of child abuse wrote to my office.

These individuals were abused by family members and acquaintances; indeed, only 10 percent of sexual abuse is perpetrated by a stranger. They were part of the chilling estimates -- one in five girls and one in 10 boys are sexually abused by the age of 18. The majority of those victims will never tell anyone -- even if they’ve been asked.

The letters were powerful, expressing the bottled up pain, shame and struggles these individuals have lived with over the years.

For some, this was the first time they had shared their story. Another has written regularly and met with some of my top administrators to collaborate on ways to help victims of child sexual abuse.

I found these stories to be heartbreaking, but I also found hope in them. Those who wrote were entrusting their stories to us, and more importantly, they were looking to us to help tackle what is an insidious, hidden and epidemic issue. They still believed in our capabilities, even as we wrestled with our own despair about what had happened.

Their issue became our issue, and we resolved to move forward by using all that is right about Penn State to take on this nationwide problem of child abuse.

And we resolved to do it by doing what we do best, that is teaching, research and service. Beyond that, we have something even more powerful -- our student body.

Within the first days of the crisis, it became clear that the students weren’t going to wait for us to lead them; they were moving forward with unity and a constructive energy that is inspiring to us.

Here are just two quick examples:

By the end of the first week, student leaders had organized a candlelight vigil on the Old Main lawn to show support for the victims of child sexual abuse. Thousands of Penn State students and community members joined together in the stillness of a cold, dark night to remind others that -- at the core of the issue we faced -- were children who had been gravely harmed.

The following week, graduate students Laura March and Stuart Shapiro helped mobilize the Penn State community with the goal of raising awareness and funds for combating child abuse. Working with a tight timeline -- right before the Nittany Lions were to play their first football game in the aftermath of this tragedy -- Laura and Stuart organized the first annual Blue Out, to represent the color of ribbons worn in support of child abuse awareness. This year was the second annual “Blue Out.” Together, they raised $126,000 for Prevent Child Abuse Pennsylvania and the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape. Laura and Stuart, please stand for a moment to be recognized. Thank you.

Penn State alumni have also shown their support, raising nearly $550,000 for RAINN, the country’s largest anti-sexual violence organization.

Those are just a few examples of many acts -- large and small -- that were organized and carried out by Penn Staters.

What’s more, students continue to respond to the crisis, while still doing the things Penn State students have always loved to do: study and learn, participate in clubs and activities, make friends, look forward to the future, and cheer on 800-plus student-athletes in 31 varsity sports, including a football team, I might add, whose performance on and off the field has made us proud.

As administrators, we tried to balance the need to move ahead with the need to reflect on, and correct, the underlying issues that brought us to the crisis in the first place.

The trustees began by asking former FBI director Louis Freeh to lead an independent investigation, which yielded 119 recommendations on how to enhance our internal policies and practices. We’ve already implemented more than one-third of these recommendations, and many more are nearing completion. We remain committed to this progress because we believe it’s making us a better, stronger university.

And we’re committed to the fight against child abuse.

Central to this effort is the newly established Center for the Protection of Children based at the Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital, and our ongoing partnership with the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape.

Earlier this week we completed the first Penn State National Conference on Child Sexual Abuse. This forum brought together leaders and experts from law enforcement, pediatric medicine, prevention research, and education.

We formed the Penn State Network for Child Protection and Well-Being, comprised of 35 faculty members with interdisciplinary expertise. The aim is to accelerate the pace of discovery by linking research and practice, and to build the Network with additional researchers, practitioners and teachers.

Dr. Susan McHale, Director of the Social Science Research Institute, and one of the co-organizers of the Network is here today. Susan, can you please stand to be recognized? Thank you.

We also made a pledge to educate our university community about ethics.

It’s one thing to know the rules, regulations and policies; it’s another thing to create a culture where every employee wants to do the right thing, and feels encouraged to report wrong-doing wherever it may be. Through training and awareness-building efforts, we’re trying to help people understand the how, when, where and why of reporting. I assure you that Penn State takes this commitment very seriously.

That’s not a glib promise. To prove it, we have stepped up our efforts in compliance.

Like most universities, Penn State has dozens of compliance professionals.

They’re responsible for ensuring research funds are appropriately used; they monitor our NCAA compliance, our financial reporting, conformity to federal laws covering privacy rights and crime reporting; and they administer many more regulations related to the health, welfare and safety of those on our campuses, including our patients.

What we discovered, however, is that despite our staffing, there were gaps in the system, and we lacked a central compliance office where these efforts can be coordinated.

We have since hired the university’s first full-time compliance coordinator to ensure Penn State’s overall compliance with the Clery Act. With this new position, our goal is to not only ensure that Penn State meets the requirements set forth by federal law and the U.S. Department of Education, but to become a leader in campus safety, security and compliance.

Another example is the Athletics Integrity Agreement between the NCAA and Penn State, with oversight by Sen. George Mitchell. This should help put the question of athletic integrity to rest even as we implement changes.

There is a great deal that is right about athletics at Penn State. Our student-athletes graduate well above their peers nationwide. This year they earned an 88 percent graduation success rate compared to 80 percent for all Division I schools; the football team’s rate is 91 percent. This level of achievement spans all sports teams, academic majors and ethnicity: notably, African-American student-athletes earned a record 90 percent rate, which is 25 points higher than the national average.

Indeed, other universities are closely watching Penn State’s actions, so they can strengthen their policies, mitigate risk at their institutions, and make their campuses safer.

States from California to Florida have introduced legislation to make it clear that child abuse reporting is not only a moral duty, it’s the law.

This is tremendous progress: laws strengthened, policies tightened, governance revisited and institutions made safer. And our work continues.

That brings us to today -- on the brink of the one-year anniversary, civil lawsuits, perjury trials, and we can expect more fallout to come.

Over the last year, we have learned much about ourselves, our many cultures, our values and our vision.

We’re still working through some difficult issues, but the question remains: Where do we go from here?

The answer can be found by returning to Penn State’s core mission: teaching, research and service. Our bottom line is delivering an outstanding education to students.

Our students are our top priority. And they are doing great things.

For example, this year our journalism students captured the national championship in the William Randolph Hearst Foundation’s Journalism Awards Program. Engineering students took top honors in the national EcoCAR competition; others are racing to get their vehicle to the moon in the Google Lunar X PRIZE Competition. Meteorology students won the National Weather Forecasting Challenge, and notably, this week more than 3,400 Penn State meteorology alumni were tracking Hurricane Sandy for the government, private industry, the military, media and education.

In addition, this fall we welcomed one of the largest and most academically accomplished classes in our history after receiving a record 123,000 total applications for admissions.

These successes define who we are and where we’re going.

We need to support those students and faculty members, because they depend on us. Our alumni and the people of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania depend on us for educational opportunities, economic development, and competitiveness. And our nation depends on us for ground-breaking research and training for the next generation of leaders, scientists, thinkers and teachers.

Allow me to put a few faces on the Penn State community.

Will Cat Powers and Will Martin please stand?

Cat and Will are student leaders working to fight pediatric cancer through service to THON, the largest student-run philanthropy in the world. Since 1977, THON has raised more than $89 million for the Four Diamonds Fund at the Penn State Milton Hershey Medical Center. We brought along DVDs of the documentary “Why We Dance: The Story of THON” for all of you. Please pick one up on the way out -- it’s an incredible story. Thank you, Will and Cat.

Will Dr. Cathy Bowen please stand? Cathy is a professor of agricultural and extension education consumer issues. In addition to a full time teaching and research agenda, she runs a volunteer service to help income-eligible people get their taxes done for free. Last year, the program completed nearly 700 tax returns and saved the elderly, working families and students at least $133,000. The program’s total economic impact was nearly $1 million. Thank you, Cathy.

Finally, I want to introduce Dr. Sandeep Prahbu and Dr. Robert Paulson, who are both professors in our College of Agricultural Sciences. Can you please stand? Their inspiring collaboration discovered what could be a promising treatment for leukemia. In laboratory tests, the compound they developed targeted and killed leukemia stem cells, without relapse. Their team, which includes undergraduate and graduate students, is now working to move this compound into clinic trials as soon as possible. Thank you, Bob and Sandeep.

These are Penn Staters who are leading us into the future. They are the people I work for each day. They’re the reason that I’m here today. And they are just a few of the Penn Staters who will not allow anything to stop them from changing our world for the better.

With that in mind, I want to spend a few minutes looking ahead, because we’re currently facing a crisis in higher education that is perhaps the worst ever in our nation’s history: our young people from middle-class and working families -- people like Cat, Will, Laura and Stuart -- who for generations have depended on access to affordable community colleges and state universities, are now at risk of losing that access. Throughout the nation, state governments are cutting back on the funding that helps keep tuition affordable, and these cuts threaten the system of public higher education that began when Abraham Lincoln signed the Morrill Land-Grant Act 150 years ago.

A report by the National Science Board, released last month, found that state support for public universities fell 20 percent between 2002 and 2010, and this shortfall has put public research universities in peril.

The declining investment in universities has made this a lost decade for funding, and worse, it has happened while universities have increased enrollment by 320,000 students nationally. This has caused many to begin to question the future of public higher education, and the implications for society.

This is not a Chicken Little warning, and as a university president, I’m acutely aware that we need to adapt to today’s economic realities. To be sure, state legislatures and governors have tough choices: their ability to provide government services has decreased while the public’s need for them has increased.

And we know the difficulty of asking already hard-pressed Americans to pay higher taxes to subsidize public university tuition to enable lower and middle income families to afford to send their children to college. But we must address the current reality that our nation’s public universities are charging tuitions that even in-state students find increasingly out of their reach.

Without a doubt, everyone in leadership at public universities can and must do a better job of reducing costs and improving education. Further belt-tightening must occur on university campuses everywhere.

Every member of the university community shares that responsibility. We at Penn State know this, and we’re turning over every stone to find savings and greater efficiencies while improving learning outcomes. This year, we had the lowest tuition increase in 45 years.

We have trimmed budgets, cut programs and consolidated functions. But you can’t do 21st-century science in labs leftover from the days of Sputnik or before.

And as the CEO and psychologist Shawn Achor has said, “If we study what is merely average, we will remain merely average.”

Our students and our nation deserve better. And we must do better if we intend to compete in the global economy.

Last year I traveled to China and visited several universities. The national investment in these universities, their research facilities and higher education is something to behold.

Over the last 30 years, China has had a 58-fold increase in spending on education, health and social investments.

According to a report from the Center for American Progress, by 2030, China will have more than 200 million college graduates, which is more than the entire U.S. workforce. In five years India will be producing five times as many college graduates as the United States.

These are the facts that drive the decisions we must make as we position Penn State to succeed in the future.

Part of that strategic planning will require getting out and staying out in front of the information technology revolution, which has been among the most significant drivers of educational change in the last 15 to 20 years. It has also been like a runaway train.

One response to the higher education funding crisis has been increased appeals, especially from legislators and business leaders, for higher education to drastically increase online education. The hope is that more students will receive college degrees faster and at less cost.

In fact, research shows that, done appropriately, the application of information technologies can both improve learning outcomes and decrease the costs of delivering that education. But so far, big savings have proven elusive.

Nonetheless, Massive Open Online Courses are testing the market. Dozens of universities, including MIT, Harvard, Princeton and Stanford, now offer these classes, prompting headlines like “College may never be same.” So stay tuned. It could be a wild ride.

Obviously, good ideas take time and research to explore.

Penn State operates a World Campus with nearly 12,000 students enrolled in dozens of fully online programs. Our model has been honored by the Sloan Consortium as the top online program for 2012. It, too, continues to evolve.

Finally, in the coming year, we must prepare Penn State for the next generation of leadership. I announced that I will be retiring by June 2014, and the Board of Trustees is about to begin the search for the next president. It’s incumbent upon us to lay the groundwork for my successor, and we look forward to an invigorating process with many outstanding candidates.

Penn State continues to move forward and embrace the challenges. Not only those that have come from the events of the past year, but those that come from being part of the higher education landscape, a large public land grant research university, and yes, a university that continues to believe that great academics and great athletics can not only co-exist, but can be mutually reinforcing components of a university education.

I hope you can better understand why I’m proud to be the president of Penn State.

It’s because of our students, faculty, staff and hundreds of thousands of Penn State alumni and friends. Our difficulties are not over, but I assure you that Penn State’s best days are ahead.

Again, thank you for the opportunity to share these thoughts with you.


Topics: donation, president rodney erickson, rodney erickson, child abuse prevention

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University officials issue statement on Attorney General's actions | Progress

University officials issue statement on Attorney General’s actions

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – (Nov. 1) Penn State officials today learned of the charges announced at a press conference held by Pennsylvania Attorney General Linda Kelly against former University president Graham Spanier, and of additional charges brought against former Athletic Director Tim Curley and former university administrator Gary Schultz, in relation to the Jerry Sandusky case.  According to the Attorney General, all three men are now charged with conspiracy; obstruction of justice; endangering the welfare of children; failure to report a crime; and perjury.

Spanier was removed as president of the University on Nov. 9, 2011. After his removal, he continued to serve as a tenured professor at Penn State, though he has been on sabbatical leave. In light of the charges brought against him, Spanier will be placed on leave, effective immediately.

After charges were filed last November, Schultz returned to retirement and Curley was placed on administrative leave. Curley was on a fixed-term contract and has recently been given notice that his contract will not be renewed when it expires on June 30, 2013.

University officials will not comment further out of respect for the legal process.

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President Erickson's National Press Club speech moved to Nov. 2 | Progress

President Erickson’s National Press Club speech moved to Nov. 2

President Erickson’s National Press Club speech moved to Nov. 2

Penn State President Rodney Erickson's National Press Club speech in Washington, D.C., previously slated for Oct. 31, has been rescheduled for Friday, Nov. 2, because of ongoing issues and effects related to Hurricane Sandy.

The National Press Club was closed on Monday, Oct. 29, and its Tuesday Newsmaker event on Oct. 30 was canceled, also because of storm-related concerns.

Erickson will give a status report on the state of the University in a major speech as part of the club’s Speakers Luncheon Series. Erickson will discuss what the University has learned from the child sex abuse scandal, reforms it has put in place, and its ongoing commitment to its core mission of teaching, research and service.

Erickson’s remarks on Nov. 2 will underscore some of the University’s outstanding accomplishments this year: Penn State’s ranking as one of the top 50 world universities; the University’s student-athlete 88 percent graduation rate that tops the NCAA Division I average; the robust growth of Penn State’s research enterprise with more than $807 million in research expenditures; and the $10.7 million Penn State students raised last year for THON -- the largest student-run philanthropy in the world, which annually raises funds and awareness for the fight against pediatric cancer.

“In the face of the challenging times we’ve experienced, it’s important that the world knows Penn State is and always will be a world-class university with a mission of teaching, research and service,” said Erickson. “Penn State is defined not by the actions of a few, but by the deeds of hundreds of thousands committed to making our world a better place -- leaders in our communities, academia, business, research, athletics and philanthropy.”

Following the University’s Oct. 29-30 conference on child sexual abuse, Erickson also will discuss Penn State’s commitment to making child sexual abuse prevention part of the University’s mission.

“Penn State is adamant about focusing our energy in a positive way to help identify, prevent and treat child sexual abuse -- a challenge that, as we have learned in the most personal of ways, knows no bounds.”

The National Press Club is one of the nation’s premier speaking venues and boasts more than 3,500 members. Luncheon speakers are selected by a committee under the direction of the club president.

For more information about President Erickson’s speech, please visit www.press.org. To reserve tickets, e-mail reservations@press.org or call 202-662-7501.

 


Topics: president rodney erickson, child sexual abuse conference, national press club

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Smart offers message of hope to close Child Sexual Abuse Conference | Progress

Smart offers message of hope to close Child Sexual Abuse Conference

Elizabeth Smart, who at age 14 was abducted from her home, sexually abused and held captive for nine months, shared her personal story and emphasized a theme of hope to conclude Penn State’s Child Sexual Abuse Conference today (Oct. 30) at The Penn Stater Conference Center Hotel.

Since being returned to her family in 2003, Smart has become an advocate for change related to child abduction, recovery programs and national legislation.

“The only thing greater than fear is hope,” Smart said at the start of her talk, citing a line from “The Hunger Games,” a recent fiction bestseller and Hollywood film. “I believe that is why we are all here today -- hope that we can make a difference, hope that we can turn something terrible into something wonderful, hope that we can change the tragedy that happened here at Penn State into a platform that will change the community and, consequently, the entire nation.

“Hope is what helped me survive,” she added. “Hope is what I was able to hold onto -- hope that one day I would be reunited with my family, hope that one day I would be given a second chance at life. That is what saw me through my kidnapping.”

Smart walked the audience through her ordeal -- from the moment one of her captors put a knife to her throat in her bedroom and threatened her to not make a sound and to come with him, through her rape atop a mountain ridge above her neighborhood, through travels across the country to cities including Boston, New York and Philadelphia with her captors, shrouded in linen clothes.

She also explained how she found the courage to try to manipulate her captors’ warped motives and to convince them to hitchhike back to her hometown, Salt Lake City. There, after nine months, she was recognized by two people who called police, which ultimately led to her return to her family.

“I realized that my family would always love me -- my parents would always love me, my brothers and sister would always love me -- and nobody could change that,” Smart said. “So I made the most important decision I could have made. Because I found something worth living for, I was able to make the decision that, no matter what happened, as long as it was within my power, I would survive. It didn’t matter if it was three days or 30 years. Because of that hope, because of the belief in my family and knowing that they would love me, I would survive somehow. That decision saw me through a lot -- a lot of ups and downs.”

Recalling her family reunion, she said, “I remember seeing my mom and my siblings again for the first time, and thinking, ‘This must be what heaven is like,’ and I was so happy,” which prompted a burst of applause from the audience. “That was the day my life started over again.”

The following morning Smart said her mother gave her best piece of advice she has ever received. “She said, ‘Elizabeth, what this man has done to you is terrible, and there aren’t words strong enough to describe how wicked and evil he is. He has taken away nine months of your life away that you’ll never get back … but the best punishment that you could ever give him is to be happy, is to follow your dreams and to do exactly what you want to do, to not let anyone or anything stand in your way.’ And that’s true -- that’s true for each one of us, that’s true for every survivor of anything out there.

“The best punishment we could give through our trials, through our adversity, is to be happy, is to move forward with our life,” she repeated, “because no matter how much bad there seems to be out there, there’s so much more good.”

Smart also acknowledged a prevention organization she has worked with extensively, first as a student, then as an instructor and now as a spokesperson. “An ounce of prevention is radKIDS, and I want to share this with you because it would have made a difference for me,” Smart said. radKIDS, which stands for Resisting Aggression Defensively, is a prevention program that teaches children as young as 3 years old its three principles: Nobody has the right to hurt you because you are special; Because you are special, you don’t have the right to hurt anyone, including yourself, unless someone is hurting you; and, most important, according to Smart: It is not your fault, and you can tell. You do not have to keep it bottled up inside you.

In her final remarks, Smart said, “Miracles happen every single day, and no matter how bad the odds seem, no matter how insurmountable your Mount Everest may seem in front of you, there are always exceptions, there are always miracles. Those two people, two everyday people, who saw me and called the police on March 12, 2003, and because of those phone calls, I was saved. I was rescued. I was reunited with my family.

“I have to applaud every single one of you who are here today,” she added, “who are making the effort to fight the elements to stay here and to attend this conference because you want to make a change, you want to see a difference, and because you realize that this conference can be the stage and a turning point for how we react and treat future abuse, sexual abuse, kidnappings, all sorts of heinous crimes against children.”

Penn State President Rodney Erickson closed the Child Sexual Abuse Conference, also thanking the conference audience for their commitment. “Penn State is very committed to helping to solve the problem of child sexual abuse,” he said. “We owe our deepest gratitude to all of you who have played a part in this important work and will continue to do, day in and day out. I can’t thank you enough for your participation.”

All permitted video-streamed sessions -- from the public community forum on Sunday evening, Oct. 28, through Erickson's concluding remarks -- have been archived and are available for viewing at http://protectchildren.psu.edu/agenda


Topics: child abuse prevention, child sexual abuse conference, elizabeth smart

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Stories of healing, expert on childhood intervention begin second day | Progress

Stories of healing, expert on childhood intervention begin second day

The second day of Penn State's first national conference on the topic of child sexual abuse began on Tuesday, Oct. 30, with talks by Margaret Hoelzer, national spokesperson for the National Children’s Advocacy Center; and Christopher Anderson, executive director of MaleSurvivor. The morning session continued with a talk by Julie Larrieu, professor of clinical psychiatry at Tulane University, who spoke to the capacity crowd at the Penn Stater Conference Center and Hotel about her work helping the youngest victims of child sexual abuse and their parents to heal and grow together.

Hoelzer and Anderson, who also participated in a public forum to kick off the conference on Sunday, Oct. 28, shared their personal stories as survivors of child sexual abuse and the stories of their paths to healing and success.

Hoelzer is a two-time Olympic swimmer who won two silver medals and a bronze medal during the 2008 games in Beijing. From the ages of 5 to 7, she was sexually abused by a best friend’s father. She said education about abuse in school, along with a conversation with a childhood friend, were the catalysts that helped her to tell her mother at the age of 11.

“My mom did everything right. She believed me right away, and I got it all out in one take,” Hoelzer said. “She didn’t talk a lot, mostly just listened, but she would keep giving me these little nudges to keep me talking. Most importantly, she didn’t get upset; she managed to stay calm, even while hearing her child tell this horrible, horrible story.”

She said her parents called the police, who referred them to the Child Advocacy Center where she and her family got the help they needed to begin to heal. As a young adolescent, she said swimming was an important and positive outlet for her.

“I figured out early on that I had strength because of it. I would stand on the blocks (at a swimming event) as a young athlete and look around, and I would say ‘I have been through something. I have survived something. I am mentally stronger than everybody else here.’ And that helped me as an athlete,” Hoelzer said.

“I am proud to be a survivor, and I am proud of my Olympic medals; learning how to survive something got me where I am today. I don’t think there’s a reason why other victims of sexual abuse can’t have that same power.”

Anderson spoke about his work with MaleSurvivor, an organization committed to preventing, healing and eliminating all forms of sexual victimization of boys and men. Anderson said male survivors of sexual abuse face different challenges than female survivors; he said the resources provided by the organization are desperately needed around the world.

“Abuse doesn’t discriminate. Neither can we in our work to fight against it,” Anderson said. “There are 10s of millions of survivors out there who need our help and our support. We cannot let the fight alone.”

A passionate advocate for the rights of survivors of sexual abuse, Anderson joined the organization in 2007 after coming to understand the extent to which the sexual abuse and trauma he suffered as a child profoundly affected his life. Growing up in a tumultuous home, Anderson, who was bullied in school, found friendship in a neighbor who ended up sexually abusing him. It wasn’t until he was in his 30s that he realized the impact the abuse had on his entire life.

“I remember one clear instance of being sexually abused. There are members of my men’s group who endured abuse systematically for years, but they shared with me that what I have gone through was just as deeply wounding to me as what they went through was to them. That was hard for me to accept for a long time,” Anderson said. “The story itself is not what’s important. It’s the impact that that trauma has on our lives and who we become.”

To watch a video of Hoelzer and Anderson's session, visit http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LlHXrcFAV9U.

Larrieu, a developmental and clinical psychologist, spoke about the work she does with maltreated infants (children younger than 5) and their parents, a process called child-parent psychotherapy. The process involves therapy, not only for children, but for parents who oftentimes have had traumatic childhood experiences themselves.

“Very young children are impacted by trauma. They can let us know through behaviors and actions, even if they don’t have the language to talk about it,” she said.

Having a supportive caregiver is essential to a positive outcome for the child, she added, which is why combined therapy is so important. It helps parents to recognize and cope with their own trauma and that, in turn, helps them to become better caregivers.

“Child-parent psychology is such a powerful model, because (it allows us to appreciate) what behaviors mean in terms of a particular child and parent together, and also the beliefs and attitudes and feelings that underlie the behavior,” she said.

From Sunday evening, Oct. 28, through today (Oct. 30), scholars, practitioners, survivors and members of the public nationwide convened at Penn State's University Park campus to attend events related to Penn State’s “Child Sexual Abuse Conference: Traumatic Impact, Prevention and Intervention.” Several events throughout the conference have been live-streamed online and archived on the conference website and WPSU's YouTube channel for ongoing educational viewing purposes.

Sharon Cooper, adjunct professor of pediatrics at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine, was scheduled to present on the topic of Internet usage as a gateway to childhood sexual abuse on Oct. 30; she was unable to travel to the conference because of the weather.


Topics: child sexual abuse conference, child abuse prevention

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Panelists, featured speakers highlight Child Sexual Abuse Conference | Progress

Panelists, featured speakers highlight Child Sexual Abuse Conference

Panelists, featured speakers highlight Child Sexual Abuse Conference

From Sunday evening, Oct. 28, through today (Oct. 30), scholars, practitioners, survivors and members of the public nationwide convened at Penn State's University Park campus to attend events related to Penn State's Child Sexual Abuse Conference.

Several events throughout the conference have been live-streamed online and archived on the conference website and WPSU's YouTube channel for ongoing educational viewing purposes, including keynote speaker Sugar Ray Leonard's personal account of his abuse and call to action to eradicate child sexual abuse.

Highlights from the community forum and conference sessions can be found at the links below:

Panel discusses 'Moving Forward,' initiates conference conversation -- http://live.psu.edu/story/62309

Inaugural conference on protecting children opens to sold-out crowd -- http://live.psu.edu/story/62337

Leonard urges communication in fight against child sexual abuse -- http://live.psu.edu/story/62336

Advocate outlines ways to help 'hidden victims' of abuse -- http://live.psu.edu/story/62339

Stories of healing, expert on childhood intervnetion begin second day -- http://live.psu.edu/story/62361

Smart offers message of hope to close Child Sexual Abuse Conference -- http://live.psu.edu/story/62362


More information about the conference can be found at http://protectchildren.psu.edu.


Topics: child abuse prevention, child sexual abuse conference

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Advocate outlines ways to help 'hidden victims' of abuse | Progress

Advocate outlines ways to help ‘hidden victims’ of abuse

An influential advocate for victims of child abuse said there have been significant gains; however, two in three victims are still suffering in silence.

Ernie Allen, president and CEO of the International Centre for Missing & Exploited Children and founding chairman of its sister organization the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, spoke Monday (Oct. 29) at Penn State's Child Sexual Abuse Conference, outlining ways that communities can assist “the hidden victims.”

“Each one of you has power and influence,” he said to the audience at The Penn Stater Conference Center Hotel. “I've always believed the old John F. Kennedy line that 'One person can make a difference and everyone should try.' I urge you to make a difference in your community. Inform, educate, motivate and mobilize others.”

Allen said confirmed cases of abuse have declined, reporting has increased, law enforcement and social workers have been better trained, and more abusers are being brought to justice. However, “children are still being victimized in startling numbers.”

Allen called the audience to action, urging:

  • That myths about abusers be dispelled. In reality, victims are often abused by someone they know, the majority of abusers aren't “evil looking” and many seek legitimate access to victims, winning “confidences through friendship and kindness.”
  • That every health care worker, worldwide, be trained to recognize abuse and respond.
  • Though “not a panacea,” mandatory background checks can root out offenders.
  • Parents must empower children with self-esteem and confidence, letting them know they have power and the right to say no.
  • That states adopt mandatory reporting measures among officials who may suspect abuse.
  • That citizens urge local officials to set up child advocacy centers in their community.

To view Allen's talk, go to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WCLoLaZRMeM.


Topics: child abuse prevention, child sexual abuse conference, centre for missing & exploited children, ernie allen

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Leonard urges communication in fight against child sexual abuse | Progress

Leonard urges communication in fight against child sexual abuse

Leonard urges communication in fight against child sexual abuse

The man who became a legend of the boxing ring, beating the likes of Thomas Hearns, Marvin Hagler and Roberto Duran, also spent decades beating himself up.

Gold medalist and Boxing Hall of Famer Sugar Ray Leonard spoke Monday at Penn State's Child Sexual Abuse Conference, recounting the abuse he suffered at the hands of two men who guided his amateur career in the 1970s and the anguish he endured before disclosing the ordeal in “The Big Fight: My Life in and Out of the Ring,” his 2011 autobiography.

“For 40-something years, I beat myself up,” he said, repeating, “I beat myself up. It was killing me.”

Introduced by Penn State football coach Bill O'Brien, who recalled how “blinding speed, tremendous power and great charm” turned the fighter into an immediate media sensation, Leonard confessed to crying on the plane ride from Los Angeles and in the morning prior to his speech at The Penn Stater.

“I stand here because I want to be responsible,” he said. “I had an impact in the ring; I want to have an impact outside of the ring.”

An introverted kid “scared of his own shadow,” Leonard, 56, said he gained confidence once he took up boxing in his hometown of Palmer Park, Md. While training for a spot on the U.S. Olympic team, Leonard said a coach sexually abused him and a fellow boxer as they traveled to a tournament.

"Trust is a very sacred thing, especially for young people, kids, for a young boxer,” he said. “So I trusted these people.”

The teen who would go on to defeat men with names like “The Hitman” and “Hands of Stone,” cried so hard his body ached, but told no one. As he thought then, “fighters don't cry.” Leonard failed to make the 1972 team, but prior to the 1976 Montreal Games -- where he'd win gold as a light welterweight -- that same coach would violate his trust again. A few months later, a supporter who offered assistance with living expenses while Leonard trained, also abused the young fighter.

“I could smell his breath right now,” he recalled. “I said, 'Not again. God please, not again.' ”

As a professional, Leonard won championships in five weight classes and signed lucrative endorsement deals. However, his life also included battles with drugs and alcohol -- “It numbed me” -- and a failed marriage. Now remarried and six years sober, Leonard expressed the relief of ending the silence that he called a toxin that “tears up your heart.”

“My life has changed so much by speaking up, speaking out,” he said. “It's been wonderful.”

Leonard encouraged an open dialogue on abuse, particularly narrowing the “communication gap between parent and kid.” (Leonard said he never told his parents of the abuse and still hasn't spoken to anyone in his immediate family about it, only having broached the subject with his 15-year-old daughter, Camille, who accompanied him at the conference, during the evening before his speech.)

“I feel so great in knowing that today we're going to start speaking out, we're going to speak up, we're going to talk about this thing," he said. "We can't let this thing destroy our kids.”

To view Leonard's speech in its entirety, go to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6JKaquBpYeQ&feature=youtu.be.

 


Topics: child sexual abuse conference, sugar ray leonard, bill o'brien, center for the protection of children

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Inaugural conference on protecting children opens to sold-out crowd | Progress

Inaugural conference on protecting children opens to sold-out crowd

Despite the rain, Penn State’s first national conference on the topic of child sexual abuse kicked off today (Oct. 29) to a sold-out crowd. The two-day “Child Sexual Abuse Conference: Traumatic Impact, Prevention and Intervention” is being held at The Penn Stater Conference Center Hotel on the University Park campus.

For the conference, Penn State convened some of the nation’s top experts in child sexual abuse and child trauma research, prevention and treatment for a public forum on this nationwide problem.

Doris MacKenzie, director of the Justice Center for Research at Penn State, and one of the organizers of the conference, opened the conference by introducing Penn State President Rodney Erickson, who spoke about the how the conference, and several other University initiatives to address the problem of child sexual abuse, came to be.

“The origins for this conference go back to one year ago, in the weeks following the release of the Jerry Sandusky grand jury presentment,” said Erickson. “During that time, our thoughts and hearts went out to the victims of these horrific crimes, and as a community we resolved to move forward by using all that is right about Penn State to tackle what is an insidious, hidden and epidemic issue."

“The statistics about child sexual abuse are frighteningly high – one in four girls and one in six boys abused before the age of 18. In 80 percent of the cases the abuse is perpetrated by a family member or trusted friend,” he added. “It deeply saddens and disturbs me to think of these children -- most of whom never tell anyone, even when asked. But that may be starting to change.

“Child abuse is a tragedy for children, for families and for society, and the time to step up the effort to stop it is now. For our part at Penn State, we believe we can contribute to this effort by doing what we do best; that is teaching, research and service. This conference is one of our many initiatives to serve that end.”

The first presenter of the day was David Finkelhor, director of the Crimes against Children Research Center, co-director of the Family Research Laboratory, professor of sociology, and university professor at the University of New Hampshire. He has been studying the problems of child victimization, child maltreatment, and family violence since 1977 and is considered the foremost expert on childhood victimization, with a special emphasis on childhood sexual abuse. Finkelhor’s presentation is available on WPSU’s YouTube channel at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G-fViw7Uuxs online.

“I want to acknowledge before I begin that members of this community really have been through an ordeal in the last year, year and a half,” said Finkelhor at the beginning of his session. “Sexual abuse does a lot of collateral damage that is often unrecognized beyond the harm to direct victims and their families."

“I think it’s not uncommon in the wake of sexual abuse for whole communities to lose their sense of trust, comfort and sense of ordinariness about just so many things – relationships that they have, the way in which things get done – they go through a period of questioning about how to deal with a lot of things that they didn’t really think about beforehand,” he added. “There’s often also a lot of rancor, about how this could have happened, how things got handled – you’re not alone in having encountered these things. So I’m glad to be here, I’m eager to talk to you about what you’ve been through; I’m also honored to be part of a process that you’ve chosen to try and heal with and learn from, given the ordeal that you’ve been through.”

In his talk, “Overview and Epidemiology of Child Sexual Abuse,” Finkelhor covered a broad overview of the current state of child sexual abuse, including how much abuse is happening worldwide and why it is underreported; risk factors that make children vulnerable to perpetrators; the dynamics between offenders and victims; important misconceptions about child sexual abuse that shape public perception and policy; his own logic model for promising prevention strategies; large-scale data studies that show an encouraging decline in the overall problem; and where we should go from here.

Bruce Perry, senior fellow at the ChildTrauma Academy in Houston, Texas, and adjunct faculty at Northwestern University Medical School, was scheduled to speak on the topic of “Trauma Impact of Sexual Abuse on Preschoolers and Young Children, with a Special Emphasis on Brain and Neurobiological Impact,” but was unable to attend.

The conference continues through Tuesday, Oct. 30. Visit http://protectchildren.psu.edu for further information, including upcoming live-streamed sessions.


Topics: child sexual abuse conference, doris mackenzie, president erickson, child abuse prevention

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Trustees approve resolution to grant authority for legal settlements | Progress

Trustees approve resolution to grant authority for legal settlements

Penn State's Board of Trustees today (Oct. 26) in a special meeting voted unanimously to authorize a subcommittee of the Board to approve possible settlements of claims made against the University related to the crimes of former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky.

This measure provides the Subcommittee on Legal -- an arm of the board’s Committee on Legal and Compliance -- the authority to approve settlements that may be reached related to claims against the University by individuals alleging that Penn State is liable for injuries suffered in connection with sexual abuse by Sandusky. The retired assistant coach was convicted on June 22 of the abuse of 10 boys and sentenced to 30 to 60 years in prison.

"Today's action takes one more step toward the resolution of claims from the victims of Mr. Sandusky," said Penn State President Rodney Erickson. "As we have previously said, the University intends to deal with these individuals in a fair and expeditious manner, with due regard to their privacy."

Erickson has previously said the University would reach out to victims to resolve claims against the University, and the law firm of Feinberg Rozen LLP was retained to help facilitate any settlements. Feinberg Rozen has received national recognition for helping to resolve mass litigation arising out of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks; the 2010 BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico; and the Virginia Tech shootings in 2007. Through the action by the Board, the subcommittee will be able to provide oversight and enable a process where the University may privately, expeditiously and fairly resolve claims against it.

Kenneth R. Feinberg and Michael K. Rozen said they have reached out to begin settlement talks with at least 20 men who accuse Sandusky of sexual abuse. The claims include eight people who testified for the prosecution of Sandusky, three others who have filed lawsuits, and at least nine others who have come forward through counsel, either privately or publicly, with allegations of abuse.

An archive of the meeting can be found online at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2JVtNl3ZsGQ.

The board's next regularly scheduled meeting will be held Nov. 16 at University Park.


Topics: bot, board of trustees, president erickson, jerry sandusky, feinberg rozen, llp

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Possible Sandusky liabilities cited in Moody's credit-rating downgrade | Progress

Possible Sandusky liabilities cited in Moody’s credit-rating downgrade

Moody's Investors Service has downgraded Penn State's long-term rating of Aa1 to Aa2 with a stable outlook, after a 90-day review of the University's financial situation and an assessment of the ongoing uncertainty related to possible legal challenges.

However, in its report released today, Moody's indicated that Penn State's research, fund-raising and enrollments remain strong. "We expect that Penn State will remain a leading U.S. public university with favorable student demand, positive operating performance, high donor support and a strong research position," the report read.

"This action will have no impact on tuition, and fortunately, due to historically low interest rates and no anticipated borrowing in the near future, will have a negligible financial impact," said David Gray, senior vice president for Finance and Business/Treasurer.

University officials said they take Moody's action seriously, but were not surprised by it in light of the current economic climate and the multiple challenges facing the institution from the child molestation scandal involving former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky.

Moody's noted that Penn State's "substantial reforms reflecting best practices are now under way …" with respect to governance and leadership issues, but the credit rating firm also acknowledged there are still more changes looming – including the replacement of its provost, for which a search is currently under way, and its president. The presidential search is expected to launch in November.

In its report, Moody's said the primary driver for the downgrade is the uncertainty of the financial impact on the University from the ultimate cost of future settlements and possible judgments stemming from sexual abuse claims made by Sandusky's victims. Moody's added that the stable outlook reflects expectations that the University will ultimately resolve victims’ claims and that it will continue its work to implement substantial governance reforms.

Penn State has been on Moody's "watchlist" since July 24. Today's report also points to the remainder of the 119 recommendations found in the Freeh Report that still need to be implemented. The report's recommendations, issued by former FBI director and independent investigator Louis Freeh, were designed to strengthen policies and performance in areas such as safety and governance. Penn State officials recently announced that one-third of the recommendations had already been implemented.

Moody's report also cited enrollment and tuition pricing challenges related to an ongoing demographic decline in the number of high school graduates in Pennsylvania, and substantial and growing costs stemming from retiree health care benefits and rising pension payments.

In addition, the Moody's report examined the University’s strengths, including:

  • The "major multi-faceted role played in the state by Penn State’s main University Park campus as Pennsylvania's flagship public and land grant university with more than 84,000 full-time equivalent (FTE) students and $700 to $800 million in research grants annually;”
  • Its favorable location near major east coast population centers;
  • Penn State’s agricultural research services, which affect nearly every county in the state and are widely recognized outside of Pennsylvania as well;
  • The Board of Trustees' commitment to act quickly to resolve abuse claims and outstanding litigation. In addition, the board also has taken quick action to implement best practice reforms recommended by the Freeh report;
  • Consistently favorable operating performance and cash flow generation;
  • Substantial liquidity of funds;
  • Low reliance on state funding; and
  • Continued fundraising success.


Penn State's new rating of Aa2 is the third-highest category of Moody's 21 possible ratings and places the University in the same category as 44 other public U.S. institutions.

Moody's announcement follows on the heels of a revised credit outlook released Oct. 17 by Standard & Poor's. In its report, S&P reaffirmed the University’s underlying AA rating but revised the outlook from stable to negative. S&P's report cited potential financial liability tied to Sandusky as a reason for the change.

"Penn State's credit rating through S&P remains AA, its third-highest investment grade," Gray said. "Our current credit metrics remain consistent within every category and we remain among the top 40 public-rated institutions in the country."

In terms of the S&P outlook, the University now maintains the same rating as the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. S&P also noted the University's strong performance track record. The Aa2 rating from Moody's is also the same for the Commonwealth.

"For both agencies, uncertainty of any settlements and outcomes was the primary consideration," Gray said. "I am confident that our underlying financial status suggests that we will remain among the top universities in creditworthiness.”


Topics: moody’s, s&p, david gray

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Advisory group named to oversee movement on Freeh recommendations | Progress

Advisory group named to oversee movement on Freeh recommendations

Penn State has established a 10-member advisory council, comprised of a wide range of individuals from across the University, to provide input and feedback as Penn State administrators and the Board of Trustees work through the 119 recommendations in a July report issued by former FBI Director Louis Freeh.

The Freeh Report, commissioned by the University as part of an independent investigation related to the child sex-abuse scandal involving former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky, recommends changes designed to strengthen policies and performance at Penn State in areas such as safety; reporting misconduct; and governance. To date, one-third of the recommendations have been completed. University officials hope to implement the changes Freeh recommended by the end of next year following a thorough evaluation, or to offer reasons why they would not implement changes.

An invitation from Penn State President Rodney Erickson and Board of Trustees Chairwoman Karen Peetz was sent to representatives from the student body, the Faculty Senate, the Academic Leadership Council (deans and campus chancellors), staff, Intercollegiate Athletics and Penn State Hershey Medical Center. The following individuals have agreed to serve on the Freeh Advisory Council:

Larry C. Backer, chair, University Faculty Senate and professor of law; Linda Caldwell, NCAA faculty representative and professor of recreation, parks and tourism management and human development and family studies; Ann Crouter, dean, College of Health and Human Development; Charmelle Green, associate director of Intercollegiate Athletics; Crystal Hubler, chair, University Staff Advisory Council; Courtney Lennartz, president, University Park Undergraduate Association; Jonathan M. Light, president, Teamsters Local Union No. 8; John May, chief compliance officer, Penn State Hershey Medical Center; David Rench, vice president of external affairs, Graduate Student Association; and Karen Wiley Sandler, chancellor, Penn State Abington.

The council, which is also charged with ensuring open communication and providing greater transparency to the University, will meet on an ongoing basis to provide additional guidance as recommendations are considered and implemented. Each of the recommendations has been assigned to one or more individuals within the University administration for review, analysis and possible implementation.

For a complete update of status and actions Penn State has taken based on the Freeh recommendations, go to http://www.psu.edu/ur/2012/Freeh_Matrix.pdf.


Topics: freeh advisory council, freeh report, freeh report advisory council, bot, board of trustees, president erickson, karen peetz

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Nearly 8,000 trained as mandated reporters at Penn State since April | Progress

Nearly 8,000 trained as mandated reporters at Penn State since April

Nearly 8,000 Penn State employees and volunteers have now attended the University's professional training program designed to help employees recognize and report suspected child abuse.

"As of Oct. 15, we have trained 7,963 employees and volunteers, including the University's Board of Trustees and senior leadership," said Susan Cromwell, director of workplace learning and performance in Penn State's Office of Human Resources. "We have 23 sessions on the calendar through December, and additional sessions still can be scheduled by units as needed."

Face-to-face training sessions began in April so the University could address an immediate need to train employees, also identified as "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.

The second stage of the program -- an online counterpart originally intended for a fall 2012 rollout but delayed because of unanticipated technological challenges -- is now scheduled to be released in early 2013. "We are looking forward to offering the training online to our employees,” said Cromwell. “The feedback we receive from the live training sessions has been valuable in helping us build a robust online program.”

The interactive online training eventually will be 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 will follow the policies and training appropriate to its own unique activities.

"We are encouraged that so many have been trained through the live sessions," said Cromwell, "and we will continue to conduct live training until we move to the online format, as well as support related efforts, such as helping Student Affairs develop training specifically for student organizations.”

The program is part of Penn State's initiative to help ensure a safe community for children, said Cromwell, with the goal of educating the University community about child abuse and reporting, and move people from an awareness of the issue toward having confidence to take action.

Susan Basso, associate vice president for human resources, said, “We are working hard to ensure the safety of children on our campuses and those involved with our programs.”

As part of this focus on safety, Basso added, Penn State now requires annual mandated reporter training for all authorized adults -- individuals working with minors in University programs and/or on University property -- as well as more stringent background checks for all prospective University employees, employees in sensitive and critical positions, and volunteers.

"More than 18,000 background checks have gone through since we introduced this change in July 2012," she said. “We have made great headway in implementing the changes recommended by the Freeh report, and continue to do so.”

Cromwell noted that her office has received calls from other universities, asking about Penn State's improvement efforts and the implementation of the training program. "We seem to be a model for other institutions," she said. "Requests come from across the nation asking about our policy changes, and we're more than happy to help in any way we can."

The mandated reporter training effort is being led by a team of individuals from Penn State's Center for Workplace Learning and Performance, Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape (PCAR), WPSU Learning and Media Design Team, University Police, Penn State Student Affairs, Intercollegiate Athletics, Centre County Women's Resource Center, faculty experts and professionals throughout the community.


 


Topics: susan cromwell, child abuse prevention, mandated reporter

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Trustees plan Oct. 26 meeting to grant authority for legal settlements | Progress

Trustees plan Oct. 26 meeting to grant authority for legal settlements

Penn State's Board of Trustees will hold a special meeting on Friday, Oct. 26, at The Penn Stater Conference Center Hotel to consider a resolution to authorize a subcommittee of the Board to approve possible settlements of claims made against the University related to the crimes of Jerry Sandusky.

The special board meeting, which is scheduled to begin at 5 p.m. in room 108, will be preceded earlier in the day by an executive session at 4 p.m. Trustees can participate by phone or in person.

At the full board meeting, trustees will discuss giving the Subcommittee on Legal -- an arm of the board’s Committee on Legal and Compliance -- the authority to approve settlements that may be reached related to claims against the University by individuals alleging that Penn State is liable for injuries suffered in connection with sexual abuse by Sandusky. The former assistant coach was convicted on June 22 of the abuse of 10 boys and sentenced to 30 to 60 years in prison.

Penn State President Rodney Erickson has said the University would reach out to victims to resolve claims against the University, and the law firm of Feinberg Rozen LLP was retained to help facilitate any settlements. Feinberg Rozen has received national recognition for helping to resolve mass litigation arising out of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks; the 2010 BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico; and the Virginia Tech shootings in 2007. If the resolution is approved by the board, the legal subcommittee would be able to provide oversight and enable a process where the University can privately, expeditiously and fairly address the victims' concerns and compensate them for claims against the University.

Kenneth R. Feinberg and Michael K. Rozen said they have reached out to begin settlement talks with at least 20 men who accuse Sandusky of sexual abuse. The claims include eight people who testified for the prosecution of Sandusky, three others who have filed lawsuits, and at least nine others who have come forward through counsel, either privately or publicly, with allegations of abuse.

The board’s next regularly scheduled meeting will be held Nov. 16 at University Park.


Topics: jerry sandusky, board of trustees, bot, president rodey erickson, president erickson, feinberg rozen, llp

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Penn State media statement on S&P outlook | Progress

Penn State media statement on S&P outlook

Penn State University’s credit rating through Standard & Poor’s remains AA. S&P noted the University’s strong performance track record indicating that “Penn State’s current credit metrics remain consistent within the rating category.” As such, the University remains among the top 40 public rated institutions in the country and maintains the same rating as the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The University’s S&P outlook will be assessed again within the next two years.


Topics: standard & poor's, s&p

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Search for integrity officer under way to comply with NCAA agreement | Progress

Search for integrity officer under way to comply with NCAA agreement

The University is moving forward quickly to fulfill the requirements of the Athletics Integrity Agreement entered into in August among the NCAA, the Big Ten and the University. The agreement contains a number of prescriptive measures designed to ensure Penn State continues to meet all applicable NCAA and Big Ten rules and standards of integrity.

As part of the agreement, Penn State is currently searching for an athletics integrity officer to develop, implement and oversee policies and practices within the Department of Intercollegiate Athletics that ensure compliance and ethical conduct. This new position will be in addition to the compliance officer already working within Intercollegiate Athletics. The integrity officer position will oversee compliance with obligations of integrity, civility, ethics and institutional control, according to Penn State President Rodney Erickson. The position is expected to report to the University-wide chief compliance officer, a position currently being filled by the University.

A search committee, headed by Linda Caldwell, the University's faculty representative to the NCAA and distinguished professor of recreation, parks and tourism management, has been formed to find a qualified individual from a national pool of interested candidates.

Other members of the committee, which is expected to appoint an integrity officer within the next 60 days, include: Stephen Dunham, vice president and University general counsel; Tanya Furman, assistant vice president and associate dean for Undergraduate Education; Jennifer James, assistant director of athletics; Jeff Laman, immediate past chair of the University Faculty Senate Committee on Intercollegiate Athletics and engineering professor; John Nichols, professor emeritus of communications; and Matt Stolberg, associate athletics director for compliance and student-athlete services.

The Athletics Integrity Agreement also calls for the creation of an Athletics Integrity Council that will report to the president and the Board of Trustees on compliance matters within Intercollegiate Athletics. The council, which will be chaired by the newly hired integrity officer, will at a minimum include three faculty and senior University administrators, the faculty athletics representative to the NCAA and the associate athletics director for compliance and student-athlete services.

"While some of this is new, other portions are already in place. These changes, together with the changes suggested by Judge Louis Freeh, are intended and designed to move us forward and improve our practices and policies," Erickson said. "When they are instituted, we will be a model for compliance, integrity and ethics in intercollegiate athletics."

Other terms of the Athletics Integrity Agreement include:

  1. Each intercollegiate athletics team will name a person to monitor and oversee activities within the team relating to compliance and other obligations, and report to the athletic director on an annual basis.
  2. Development of a code of conduct for all "covered persons" (student-athletes, coaches, staff members, administrators, the president and the members of the Board of Trustees) to follow. Adherence to the code will be part of the performance review for all coaches and staff.
  3. Review all policies and procedures to determine if additional mechanisms are needed to ensure integrity, institutional control, ethical conduct and responsibility.
  4. More education and training related to NCAA and Big Ten rules and regulations.

Former U.S. Sen. George Mitchell was appointed for a five-year period by the NCAA on Aug. 1 as the independent athletics integrity monitor at Penn State.


Topics: athleticsintegrity agreement, george mitchell, president erickson, linda caldwell

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Penn State takes action on many Freeh Report recommendations | Progress

Penn State takes action on many Freeh Report recommendations

Penn State takes action on many Freeh Report recommendations

Penn State officials today provided an update on the 119 recommendations made to the University in a report by the Freeh Group, noting that more than one-third of the recommendations have been completed to date.

"There has been great collaboration and cooperation across all of our departments and organizations in addressing these recommendations," said Penn State President Rodney Erickson. "I'm very proud of our faculty, staff and students and look forward to continued progress. I am fully confident that Penn State will emerge stronger and serve as a model of compliance for universities across the nation."

Each of the recommendations has been assigned to one or more individuals within the University administration for review, analysis and possible implementation, and each area will receive oversight and progress monitoring by one of the standing committees of the Board of Trustees. University officials have said that as they implement the Freeh recommendations, in instances where implementation is not appropriate, they will provide reasons for non-implementation. In addition, an Administrative Response Team comprising the senior vice president for Finance and Business; vice president and general counsel; and the senior vice president for administration will review any analysis, action plans and progress submitted. These same metrics will be reviewed by an advisory council that consists of a cross section of the University community, including students, faculty, administrators, deans, chancellors and staff. The council is overseen by Keith Masser, vice chair of Board.

A complete update of status and actions Penn State has taken based on the recommendations is available at http://www.psu.edu/ur/2012/Freeh_Matrix.pdf and on the University's Progress website at http://progress.psu.edu/, and will be updated monthly.

The following is a sample of the progress achieved:

Transparency

  • Comprehensive change to the Board of Trustees governance structure, including expansion of committees, public meetings with comment and question periods at formal board voting sessions.
  • Key officials' contracts made public and posted: President Rodney Erickson, Head Football Coach Bill O'Brien, Acting Athletic Director David Joyner, and Vice President for Finance and Business David Gray.
  • All senior executive positions advertised externally, and expansion of the talent pools for those positions through the engagement of search firms.
  • Established the Progress website, http://progress.psu.edu/, to disclose important information to the public. Fully disclosed all costs for legal fees, consultants and public relations firms associated with the Sandusky matter.


Infrastructure Enhancements

  • Established the position of chief compliance officer, with oversight throughout the university, with the search for this position near completion.
  • Hired a full-time Clery compliance coordinator, who joined the Office of University Police and Public Safety in March and using outside consultants to provide Clery Act training to University employees.
  • Providing sufficient support and oversight of the Office of Student Affairs to make certain that all students follow the same standards of conduct.
  • Revising organizational structure of the Athletic Department, clearly defining lines of authority, responsibilities and reporting relationships.


Policies and Procedures

  • Created a master list of 3,000 names of those persons with Clery Act reporting responsibilities to notify them annually of the Clery Act responsibilities and publish the list to the University community.
  • Mandatory reporter training conducted for more than 7,200 employees and volunteers.
  • Established and implemented policies to facilitate assistance from other law enforcement agencies in sensitive or extraordinary cases.


In addition to the specific progress related to the Freeh Report, University officials also indicated that an array of other actions to improve processes have taken place in the past several months, including:

  • Completion of a search for a new chief legal counsel.
  • Enhancements to the human resources function.
  • Search for new provost under way.
  • Improvements to internal and external communications.
  • Changes in the organizational structure of Intercollegiate Athletics to clearly define lines of authority, responsibilities and reporting relationships.
  • Formation of the Vision Council, advised by former University of Illinois President Stan Ikenberry. The Council will provide strategic planning recommendations by mid-year 2013 to the Board of Trustees and Administration.


Topics: freeh report, freeh, freeh report advisory council, special investigations task force, freeh group, president erickson, president rodey erickson, board of trustees, keith masser

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Statement by Penn State President Rodney Erickson regarding Jerry Sandusky sentencing | Progress

Statement by Penn State President Rodney Erickson regarding Jerry Sandusky sentencing

The following statement was released today by Penn State President Rodney Erickson regarding the Jerry Sandusky sentencing

"Our thoughts today, as they have been for the last year, go out to the victims of Jerry Sandusky’s abuse. While today’s sentence cannot erase what has happened, hopefully it will provide comfort to those affected by these horrible events and help them continue down the road to recovery."

 


Topics: jerry sandusky, president erickson, president rodney erickson, statement

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Child Sexual Abuse Conference sold out, some events to be streamed | Progress

Child Sexual Abuse Conference sold out, some events to be streamed

Child Sexual Abuse Conference sold out, some events to be streamed

Penn State’s first national conference on the topic of child sexual abuse has sold out in record time. “Child Sexual Abuse Conference: Traumatic Impact, Prevention and Intervention” is scheduled for Oct. 29-30 at The Penn Stater Conference Center Hotel.

In response to the overwhelming interest, several sessions will be live-streamed on the conference’s website, http://protectchildren.psu.edu. Audience members are being encouraged to submit questions in advance.

“We have been thrilled by the positive reaction to the conference, including offers of assistance from numerous individuals and nearly 70 outside organizations wanting to be involved,” said Kate Staley, conference co-organizer and research scientist in Penn State’s Justice Center for Research. "Live streaming some sessions will allow for even greater participation."

The conference reached its 500-attendee capacity within a month of opening registration. Those registered for the conference represent a diverse group of individuals from across the country, including medical, legal and therapeutic practitioners; researchers and scholars; several Penn State faculty and staff; and members of the general public. The conference also will feature displays from 27 exhibitors.

The two-day event features not only sessions by Sugar Ray Leonard and Elizabeth Smart, both of whom suffered sexual abuse as children, but also a long list of nationally recognized experts in child abuse prevention. The sessions to be streamed online at the conference website include (note: all listings are Eastern time):

Monday, Oct. 29
-- 8:45–9:45 a.m.
Overview and epidemiology of child sexual abuse
David Finkelhor, director of the Crimes against Children Research Center, University of New Hampshire

-- 1:15–1:45 p.m.
What can you and your community do about child sexual abuse?
Ernie Allen, president and CEO, International Centre for Missing & Exploited Children; founding chairman, National Center for Missing & Exploited Children

-- 2–3 p.m.
Trauma impact of sexual abuse on older children and teens
Penelope Trickett, professor of social work and psychology, School of Social Work, University of Southern California

-- 3:15–4:15 p.m.
What child sex offenders teach us about prevention
Keith Kaufman, professor of clinical psychology, Portland State University

Tuesday, Oct. 30
-- 11 a.m.–noon
Evidence-based interventions for older children and adolescents who experienced sexual abuse; policy and pragmatic issues regarding implementation of evidence-based therapies at the local and state level
Lucy Berliner, director, Harborview Center for Sexual Assault and Traumatic Stress, and clinical associate professor, School of Social Work and Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, University of Washington

-- 1–2 p.m.
Legal child sexual abuse investigation issues
John E.B. Myers, professor of law, McGeorge Law School, University of the Pacific (Sacramento, Calif.)

Attendees and members of the public are encouraged to submit questions in advance for speakers at the conference, as well as for panelists at the free community forum scheduled for 7 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 28, at Eisenhower Auditorium on the University Park campus. Questions may be sent to justicecenter@la.psu.edu. Please include only one question per email, noting the specific topic or speaker to which the question should be addressed, and using the subject line "Question for CSA conference" or "Question for Sunday forum."

"Our goal is for attendees and online viewers to learn about the latest research on the prevalence of child sexual abuse, its traumatic impact, and best practices for prevention." Staley said. "By its conclusion, I hope we will all be inspired to go back to our communities and share what we have learned so that as a society we can better protect our children."

The complete conference agenda and additional information can be found at http://protectchildren.psu.edu/.


Topics: child sexual abuse conference, elizabeth smart, sugar ray leonard, center for the protection of children, child abuse prevention

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Penn State Retains Feinberg Rozen, LLP to Facilitate Possible Settlements of Pending Litigation | Progress

Penn State Retains Feinberg Rozen, LLP to Facilitate Possible Settlements of Pending Litigation

Pennsylvania State University announced today that it has retained the law firm of Feinberg Rozen, LLP to help facilitate the possible settlement of all outstanding personal injury litigation arising out of allegations of sexual abuse in connection with the Sandusky matter.  The law firm – headquartered in Washington, DC – has received national recognition for helping to resolve mass litigation arising out of the September 11 Terrorist Attacks; the 2010 BP Oil Spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the Virginia Tech Shootings in 2007 and the Massey Coal Mine Explosion in West Virginia in 2010.  Both Kenneth R. Feinberg and Michael K. Rozen will make themselves available to assist Penn State, the victims of Mr. Sandusky and their counsel.

It is anticipated that the facilitation effort will take place over a concentrated three month period in the hope that all outstanding and anticipated litigation can be resolved by the end of the year.

“In retaining Feinberg Rozen, LLP, with their nationally-recognized expertise, we are seeking to make sure we do the right thing in terms of providing a just outcome for the victims,” said Penn State President Rodney Erickson.  “We hope to enable a process that will result in settlement of many of the civil cases so that the victims will not have to be drawn through legal process.”

“We have been retained by Penn State to help both the University and individuals alleging sexual abuse reach a voluntary settlement in those individual cases where terms and conditions can be agreed upon,” said Feinberg. “We are not administering a compensation fund and have no binding authority to compel a settlement. We will merely facilitate the effort and only in those cases where individuals and their lawyers are so inclined. Having managed similar cases in the past we are confident we can help all parties involved in this matter and are pleased to have been selected for such an important role.”

For more information contact Penn State spokesperson David La Torre at 717.608.6337 or david@latorrecommunications.com


Topics: president rodney erickson, president erickson, feinberg rozen, llp, litigation

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President Erickson to address National Press Club Oct. 31 | Progress

President Erickson to address National Press Club Oct. 31

President Erickson to address National Press Club Oct. 31

Penn State President Rodney Erickson will give a status report on the state of the University in a major speech to the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday, Oct. 31, as part of the club’s Speakers Luncheon Series. Erickson will discuss what the University has learned from the child sex abuse scandal, reforms it has put in place, and its ongoing commitment to its core mission of teaching, research and service.

Erickson’s Oct. 31 remarks will underscore some of the University’s outstanding accomplishments this year: Penn State’s ranking as one of the top 50 world universities; the University’s student-athlete 88 percent graduation rate that tops the NCAA Division I average; the robust growth of Penn State’s research enterprise with more than $807 million in research expenditures; and the $10.7 million Penn State students raised last year for THON -- the largest student-run philanthropy in the world, which annually raises funds and awareness for the fight against pediatric cancer.

“In the face of the challenging times we’ve experienced, it’s important that the world knows Penn State is and always will be a world-class university with a mission of teaching, research and service,” said Erickson. “Penn State is defined not by the actions of a few, but by the deeds of hundreds of thousands committed to making our world a better place -- leaders in our communities, academia, business, research, athletics and philanthropy.”

Following the University’s Oct. 29-30 conference on child sexual abuse, Erickson also will discuss Penn State’s commitment to making child sexual abuse prevention part of the University’s mission.

“Penn State is adamant about focusing our energy in a positive way to help identify, prevent and treat child sexual abuse -- a challenge that, as we have learned in the most personal of ways, knows no bounds.”

The National Press Club is one of the nation’s premier speaking venues and boasts more than 3,500 members. Luncheon speakers are selected by a committee under the direction of the club president.

For more information about President Erickson’s speech, please visit www.press.org. To reserve tickets, e-mail reservations@press.org or call 202-662-7501. 


Topics: president rodey erickson, president erickson, rodney erickson, press club

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NCAA establishes independent task force for $60 million endowment | Progress

NCAA establishes independent task force for $60 million endowment

The NCAA today announced it has established an independent task force to develop the philosophy and guidelines for the $60 million endowment, created under the Consent Decree, that will benefit external programs for the prevention of child sexual abuse and victim treatment.

“Since July, Penn State has received input from a variety of sources with respect to the structure and operation of the endowment, which we have passed along to the NCAA,” said Penn State President Rodney Erickson. “The NCAA has determined that at least one quarter of the annual disbursements from the endowment will be reserved for Pennsylvania organizations. However, recognizing that child sexual abuse is a national issue, the NCAA has determined that grants from the endowment will be available in other states as well. Penn State appreciates the commitments of the task force on this important endeavor that will help countless victims of child sexual abuse.”

The task force is charged with:

  • Developing and recommending the philosophy by which the endowment earnings will be employed;
  • Defining the types of programs to benefit from the endowment;
  • Establishing criteria used to obtain grants from the endowment;
  • Developing investment and spending practices to sustain the endowment;
  • Determining the financial and legal structure for holding assets;
  • Identifying and recommending an independent third-party to administer and manage the endowment assets; and
  • Establishing appropriate reporting and accountability to monitor the performance and uses of the assets.

The NCAA has committed that at least 25 percent of the annual disbursements be used solely to benefit qualifying organizations in Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania organizations also will receive the first round of funding released by the endowment. Under the terms of the Consent Decree, no University programs are eligible to receive funding from the endowment.

The 10-member task force will be chaired by University of California-Riverside Chancellor Tim White. Penn State University was permitted to appoint two members and selected Dr. Craig Hillemeier and Dr. Nan C. Crouter to serve on the task force.

As vice dean for clinical affairs at Penn State College of Medicine, Dr. Hillemeier is committed to advancing clinical education, patient care, service and research. He also serves as a professor and chair of the Department of Pediatrics and medical director of Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital. Since joining the faculty 11 years ago, Dr. Hillemeier has been at the forefront of developing new approaches to health care that are efficient, effective and patient-focused.

Dr. Crouter has served as the Raymond E. and Erin Stuart Schultz Dean of the College of Health and Human Development since June 2007. She has a long history at Penn State, joining the faculty in the College of Health and Human Development as assistant professor of human development in 1981. She was promoted to associate professor in 1987 and professor of human development in 1993. During her Penn State career, she served as director of the Center for Work and Family Research (2002-06) and led the Social Science Research Institute and the Consortium for Children, Youth and Families at Penn State (2006-07).


Topics: ncaa, ncaa investigation, consent decree, president erickson, ncaa task force

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Board of Trustees meets; President Erickson's remarks | Progress

Board of Trustees meets; President Erickson’s remarks

Board of Trustees meets; President Erickson’s remarks

Penn State President Rodney Erickson delivered the following remarks during the regular meeting of the Board of Trustees, held Sept. 14 on the University Park campus.

Good afternoon and welcome. This is the first board meeting of the new academic year, and classes have been in session for about three weeks. I want to say how nice it is to be surrounded by the rhythms of academic life -- papers to be written, quizzes to be graded and department potlucks to be attended. I’ve often thought that one of the main symbols of our academic life -- especially for young faculty or grad students -- is a covered casserole dish.

Perhaps more than any other year, we have all welcomed this return to normalcy and the energy that the students bring to campus.

It seems that at least one administrator thought school looked like so much fun, he decided to return to the classroom as well. Bill Mahon will be stepping down from his position as vice president for University Relations later this year. He has accepted a faculty position in the College of Communications beginning in the upcoming spring semester. Much as we’ll miss him, I couldn’t be more pleased for our students and faculty. Bill will contribute a truly unique set of experiences in public relations and journalism, as well as leadership in internal and external communications and social media.

Notably, Penn State’s social media initiatives were recently ranked No. 1 in the country, according to an assessment of 1,600 schools.

In addition, U.S. News & World Report ranks Penn State among the Top 50 Best National Universities. Our reputational ranking is also outstanding. This year, Penn State moved ahead two places to 36th place. We’ll have a chance to thank Bill later, but let’s take a moment to recognize him now.

We won’t have the final numbers for the incoming class until later this fall, but I had the opportunity to welcome a very enthusiastic group of students at the President’s New Student Convocation, and they turned out in record numbers for Be a Part from the Start the next day.

At this point, we’re fairly confident that our final new student enrollment at University Park will be just over 7,700, which will be a 120-student increase over last year’s incoming class. The numbers for the Commonwealth Campuses are still changing, but we do expect to be down somewhat from last year.

It’s also not too early to think about next year’s class, and it’s clear that high school seniors are thinking about us. We opened the application window on September 1 and almost immediately about 1,000 students pushed the send button to submit their application. This is fairly typical behavior of ambitious, college-bound seniors, and we will certainly keep you updated throughout the year.

This September also saw the launch of a new way to celebrate all that is right about Penn State.  "Faces of Penn State" showcases the personal accomplishments, public contributions and pioneering spirit resulting from the Penn State experience, education and community.  The students, faculty, staff, administrators, alumni and local community members featured in the campaign embody Penn State’s values of teaching, research and service, and have reached significant personal or professional achievements.

The campaign will select individuals on a rolling basis throughout the academic year and highlight their stories on faces.psu.edu. Since its launch, the page has had more than 4,100 visitors. For a brief introduction to this campaign, visit: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U7eiqhZwDyE

With that theme in mind, I have few people I’d like to recognize today.

First, I’m very pleased that Evan Pugh Professor Bruce Logan could join us to receive his medal. The title of Evan Pugh Professor is the highest honor that can be bestowed upon a faculty member of our University and is given to faculty whose research, publications and creative work are of the highest quality; who are acknowledged national and international leaders in their fields; who are involved in pioneering research or creative accomplishments; and who demonstrate excellent teaching skills. Bruce, can you please join me at the podium?

Dr. Logan joined the Penn State faculty in 1997. His research has focused on the sustainability of the water infrastructure and the production of electricity from biomass to help provide energy for the needs of water infrastructure. He specializes in microbial fuel cells, biological hydrogen production and new methods of renewable energy production. Dr. Logan received his doctorate from University of California, Berkeley. He is a Fellow of the Water Environmental Federation and International Water Association. Dr. Logan received the Athalie Richardson Irvine Clarke Prize for his research in water science and technologies in 2009.

Congratulations!

Also with us today is Chris Staley, the Penn State Laureate for 2012-13. Chris is a ceramic artist and distinguished professor of art, and his work is included in collections around the world. He also is a gifted and visionary teacher, who has been reaching out to the community with a series of videos on YouTube.  So far, he has discussed whether you can teach creativity -- the answer is yes by the way. And recently he addressed "How do you Grade Art?," which attempts to explain why some paintings that look like your child did them are hanging on museum walls. I encourage you to go online to watch the video; you’ll see there are good reasons! During Chris’s laureate year, he plans to visit many of the Commonwealth Campuses, and he’ll be delivering a lecture at an upcoming Penn State Forum. Chris, can you please stand to be recognized? Please join me in thanking Chris Staley for sharing his talents with the Penn State community.

As a direct result of our outstanding faculty, Penn State’s research enterprise continues to show robust growth. Over the last decade, our research expenditures have doubled to reach more than $807 million last year. That is quite a feat and a credit to Hank Foley, our vice president for research, and our terrific faculty given the fiscal challenges that have faced our economy, the federal agencies and other funding sources. It also is a confirmation of the value of the research being conducted across our great University.

Consider a few examples:

Penn State’s Applied Research Lab was just awarded a $48 million contract through the Defense Advanced Research Agency to lead an effort to streamline the design and manufacture of U.S. Department of Defense equipment, including weapons and other complex systems. This project has the potential to revolutionize the design and building process for complex defense systems and to significantly shorten the time from prototype to field use. ARL will lead a team comprised of commercial, military and academic partners.

Last week, Penn State was named as one of four universities who will collaborate on a national nanotechnology research effort to help develop self-monitoring health devices. This effort will be supported by a $18.5 million National Science Foundation grant, and it has the potential to transform health care by improving the way doctors, patients and researchers gather and interpret important health data.

The Penn State team includes faculty from the colleges of Engineering, Earth and Mineral Sciences, Education, and Health and Human Development, with Tom Jackson, Penn State professor of electrical engineering, serving as the center’s research director.

The National Science Foundation also has recognized Penn State with a $3 million IGERT grant to support innovative Big Data Social Science training for future researchers.

Political scientist Burt Monroe will lead a multi-disciplinary team from the colleges of the Liberal Arts, Information Sciences and Technology, Earth and Mineral Sciences, Health and Human Development, and Engineering to develop new curricula and training in advanced technologies of data science and analytics.

There also will be a challenge mechanism, under which interdisciplinary teams compete to innovate solutions to real social data analytics problems. IGERTs are scarce, and this is only the second in Penn State's history.

Another research area where Penn State continues to make new discoveries is in the deepest seas.

Iliana Baums, assistant professor of biology, recently validated a hypothesis developed by Darwin in 1880. Darwin believed that most species could not cross the Eastern Pacific marine barrier, and Dr. Baums's study is the first comprehensive test of that hypothesis using coral. Her work has important implications for climate change research, species-preservation efforts, and the economic stability of the eastern Pacific region.

Another seafaring researcher, professor of biology Charles Fisher, was recently honored with the Excellence in Partnership Award by the National Oceanographic Partnership Program for his work in the Gulf of Mexico.

And here’s one more noteworthy award. Suzanne Shontz, assistant professor of computer science and engineering, was among 96 researchers named by the White House as recipients of the Presidential Early Career Awards for Scientists and Engineers. This is the highest honor bestowed by the U.S. government on science and engineering professionals in the early stages of their research careers.

This fall, people everywhere will see “Why We Dance,” a 60-minute documentary on THON. Created by Penn State Public Broadcasting, this project chronicles the student-run philanthropy, and the children, families and students who are changed by the experience.

The premiere will take place this afternoon at the Hershey Theatre, and over the next several weeks, this video will be shown to a wide range of audiences.  It also will be broadcast throughout Pennsylvania on Sept. 27 and will be available online and through Comcast on Demand.

I wish to introduce some of the people responsible for the project. Would the following people please stand: Craig Weidemann, vice president for Outreach, Jeff Hughes, executive producer, Cole Cullen, producer and director, and Laura Miller, marketing strategist. Please join me in recognizing their dedication and excellent work.

This week also saw the first Career Days of this year. We had more than 500 employers attend the three-day long event and interview thousands of students. Our fall career days are just one of a vast number of career fair offerings over the course of a typical year. We also have been encouraged by the fact that prominent employers are targeting Penn State as one of their top tier schools for recruitment. What’s more, at Penn State the Career Days are just the tip of the iceberg in terms of career assistance for students.

Penn State Careers Services offers student resume databases and job postings, on-campus interviewing, employer partner programs, access to career programs for Commonwealth Campus students, and graduate follow-up surveys. All of this supports Penn State’s No. 1 ranking among career recruiters and the recent Princeton Review ranking that placed our Career Services at the No. 2 spot in the nation.

One upcoming event that has received national attention is “The Child Sexual Abuse Conference: Traumatic Impact, Prevention and Intervention.” Organized by the Penn State Justice Center for Research and Penn State Outreach, the conference will convene some of the nation’s top experts in child sexual abuse and child trauma research, prevention, and treatment for a public forum on this nationwide problem. Speakers will include Sugar Ray Leonard and Elizabeth Smart, both of whom suffered sexual abuse as children.

The response has been excellent and registration is now full. I would like to introduce the organizers of the conference, and ask that they please stand. From the Penn State Justice Center, we have Doris MacKenzie, who serves as director, and Kate Staley, who conducts research. Pam Driftmier is director of conferences at Penn State Outreach. Please join me in thanking them for planning this important conference.

Also, I’m pleased to announce that Benjamin Levi, professor of pediatrics and humanities, has assumed the directorship of the Center for the Protection of Children at Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital Dr. Levi is a practicing pediatrician and highly published expert in the area of mandated reporting of suspected child abuse. He will focus on development of the Children’s Hospital clinical program for child protection, a program integral to the center’s mission to improve the detection, treatment and prevention of child abuse.

Moving on to community news, I want to say how much I enjoyed participating in the fifth annual LION WALK this year. This is a joint initiative between Penn State and State College Borough. Over the course of the evening more than 150 volunteers reached out to residents in more than 700 homes. Our message of  “We are…one community,” was well received by all -- especially when it was delivered by the Nittany Lion, who had gifts for the students! Joining us were State College Borough Chief of Police Tom King, State College Mayor Elizabeth Goreham, Tom Poole, Damon Sims, along with many other Penn Staters.

Another annual tradition is Ag Progress Days, which were held in August at the Russell E. Larson Agricultural Research Center at Rock Springs. Although I was not nearly as popular as the rabbits or the go-cart races, it was a great pleasure to speak to a capacity crowd at the annual Government and Industries Luncheon and to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Morrill Act, which paved the way for land-grant education.

Last week, I had the pleasure of visiting Penn State Beaver for the dedication of their new Wellness Center.  This beautiful project was a true community collaboration made possible through the use of the Beaver campus Student Facility Fee, generous philanthropy and the commitment of the faculty and staff. Centers such as this further our goal of enhancing the student experience, both in an out of the classroom.

Later this afternoon, we’ll dedicate the 2011 Senior Class Gift, which is a Veterans Plaza in honor of Lt. Michael P. Murphy, Penn State distinguished alumnus and Medal of Honor winner. This dedication comes just days after heavily armed militants attacked the U.S. embassy in Benghazi, Libya, killing four Americans.  One of the fallen was Sean Smith, a Foreign Service information specialist, Air Force veteran and active World Campus student.

Sean was unexpectedly deployed to Libya last week for what was to be one month. His concern, beyond leaving his wife and two children in the Netherlands, was keeping up with his World Campus coursework due to “power outages and meeting deadlines.”

Words cannot adequately convey the magnitude of this loss. Sean and his family are in our thoughts and prayers. This tragedy is a solemn reminder of the importance of honoring our veterans and those who risk their lives in service of our country. I hope you will join me at 5:30 in Schwab Auditorium as we recognize the many veterans and military families who have served our nation with courage and fortitude.

Moving on to Athletics. This season, our athletes continue to show their commitment, pride and unity through their actions and support for one another. Penn State has 800 student-athletes and 31 varsity sports, but just one team. This is evidenced by the camaraderie among the coaches, the athletes and the community. As Bill O’Brien said, “We’re one team. We should be able to support our coaches and student-athletes in every sport, no matter where they play.”

That was certainly the case for the women’s soccer home opener against No. 1 ranked Stanford. The match attracted an overcapacity crowd of 5,117 spectators, which smashed the previous mark of 3,912. The game was a heartbreaker for the Nittany Lions, but the fans were treated to a thrilling competition.  There will be more action to come this season with star players like juniors Maya Hayes and Taylor Schram. Last weekend, Maya and Taylor were in Japan, playing in the U20 World Cup with the USA Team. They helped their team win an upset victory over Germany to claim the World Cup. Both of these women are phenomenal players, and they’re currently back at Penn State…just in time to host Wisconsin on Sunday.

Penn Staters also made their mark in the ultimate international competition -- the Olympics. A total of five Penn State alums earned medals at this year’s games, and a school record 17 Penn Staters represented their school and countries. Medal winners include: Megan Hodge and Christa Harmotto, who won silver for Women’s Volleyball; Erin McLeod and Carmelina Moscato, who earned bronze for Team Canada’s soccer, or rather, football team; and Natalie Dell, a 2007 graduate and member of the club-level Penn State rowing squad, who earned a bronze medal for Team U.S.A.

Finally, I wish to turn your attention to Penn State employees, who loyally support our community members in need through the United Way.

In the face of difficult economic times and very challenging University times, Penn State employees continue to help others. Centre County United Way is Penn State’s “charity of choice,” and you will find our employees working year-round on ways to raise funds that approach $1 million dollars for local United Way agencies.

Trash to Treasure is one of the biggest fund-raisers, but our employees pitch in for Day of Caring, and they come up with other creative ideas as well -- like a Dunk-the Dean contest and the Big Burger Challenge, where teams strive to be the first to finish a 15-pound burger. I’ve heard that the Physical Plant team usually wins, but then again, they go up against the Penn State Student United Way group, which usually has a vegetarian or two.  If any of the trustees want to form a team, contact this year’s Penn State United Way chair, Damon Sims.

Now, please join me in recognizing Damon for his leadership, Chris Brady, who served as last year’s chair, along with all faculty and staff who contribute to this worthy charity.

Now I’ll be happy to take your questions.


Topics: board of trustees, president rodey erickson, president erickson

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Board receives update on response to Freeh recommendations | Progress

Board receives update on response to Freeh recommendations

Penn State’s Board of Trustees today (Sept. 14) received an update on the ongoing work to review and implement the recommendations set forth in Judge Louis Freeh’s July report. The board and University leadership are considering each of the report’s 119 recommendations, designed to strengthen policies and performance in areas such as safety; the identification and reporting of misconduct at Penn State; and University governance.

David Gray, senior vice president for Finance and Business/treasurer, said more than a dozen of the report's recommendations have been substantially addressed and efforts on many more are well under way. Changes already implemented by University leadership include hiring a full-time Clery compliance coordinator and providing Clery Act training for employees; instituting a new policy to limit access to athletic facilities; providing additional resources for the University's Athletic Compliance Office; and restructuring the Board of Trustees to ensure stronger governance of the University and more communication with constituencies, among other actions.

Monthly status reports on the implementation of the recommendations will be posted on the University’s Progress website at http://progress.psu.edu/. The first report will be available before the end of September.

“The trustees have set the tone for an energetic and thorough response to the Freeh report,” said Gray, who, along with Vice President for Administration Tom Poole and General Counsel Steve Dunham, is leading a task force charged with coordinating the University administration’s response to the Freeh report. “We are working diligently to carefully consider each recommendation. Significant progress already has been made and we anticipate that the vast majority of the recommendations will be implemented over the course of the next year.”

Each of the recommendations has been assigned to one or more individuals in the University administration, and each will receive oversight and progress monitoring by one of the standing committees of the Board of Trustees. In addition, the University expects to retain an external firm that specializes in project management services to assist in the tracking and benchmarking of progress.

Also, the Freeh Report Advisory Council, established by Board Chairman Karen Peetz and Penn State President Rodney Erickson, will hold its inaugural meeting next week. Composed of representatives from the student body, the Faculty Senate, the Academic Leadership Council (deans and campus chancellors), staff, Intercollegiate Athletics and Penn State Hershey Medical Center, the council will meet on an ongoing basis to provide additional feedback and guidance as recommendations are considered and implemented.

“It is crucial that voices from all corners of the University community be heard throughout this process, and the Freeh Report Advisory Council will play an important role in that conversation,” said Gray. He said the administrative task force will continue to work in close coordination with the board and the advisory council.

In addition to steps outlined in the Freeh report, the University and the Board of Trustees previously have implemented interim recommendations delivered by Freeh in January. These actions have included strengthening policies and programs involving minors, including education of University employees on the recognition and reporting of child abuse; establishing a position of, and commencing a national search for, a director of University compliance; and improving and clarifying policies related to background checks for employees, among others.


Topics: freeh report, freeh, david gray, freeh report advisory council

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Board of Trustees Chairman Karen Peetz delivers remarks | Progress

Board of Trustees Chairman Karen Peetz delivers remarks

Board of Trustees Chairman Karen Peetz delivers remarks

Penn State Board of Trustees Chairman Karen Peetz made the following remarks during the Board's regular meeting on Friday, Sept. 14, at the Nittany Lion Inn.

Good afternoon everyone.

It is good to see our campuses, here in State College and throughout the Commonwealth, are once again abuzz with the activity we are all dedicated to: educating students.

As I noted in my report at the last Trustees’ meeting, much enthusiasm, optimism and pride are in evidence.

Our common theme, our rallying cry, “We Are Penn State,” is in the hearts and minds of our students once again as they focus on their university life.

One instance of such pride and enthusiasm is especially worth noting. It illustrates what is meant, when we all say, “We Are Penn State.”

It applies to our communities, our loyal and hardworking staff, and the citizens of the great Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

How would you like to celebrate your 106th birthday? Yes, I said one-oh-six.

Ruth Dreibelbis chose to celebrate her birthday with her Penn State family at Beaver Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 1.

A resident of Centre County going back to before our entry into World War I -- 1915 to be exact -- Ruth worked at Penn State, handling our switchboard for decades. She was even on a first name basis with some fellow named “Ike,” who called regularly to chat with his brother.

Well, that “Ike” she spoke to is who we all know as President Dwight Eisenhower. And the brother she was connecting him to was our own Penn State president, Milton Eisenhower, for those president-to-president, brother-to-brother calls.

Sort of makes you wonder who was asking who for advice, doesn’t it?

Ruth is a member of our local community, she is staff and she is a fan. She is living testament to the type of loyalty Penn State engenders, the commitment we possess, and the type of heritage we build.

Clearly, we value our heritage. Better said more personally, we cherish our Penn State heritage.

And what builds heritage over the decades is attention to and dedicated focus on our mission of educating the best our country has to offer… a constant drive to do better than yesterday, act decisively in the present while we anticipate and prepare for the brightest of futures.

And we, Penn State, are now doing just that.

To start, we are refocusing our philosophy of how we act as a Board, administration, and a University, entering a new era of better, more representative and transparent governance.

As I explained in my remarks three weeks ago, transparency is only the first step in improved corporate governance. In the coming months, I will be engaging the board in further discussions on other aspects of this important issue.

These discussions will focus on such issues as aligning the board with all its constituencies, current trends and thinking, as well as overall best practices.

We’ve added faculty, staff, students and alumni as non-voting members to almost all Board committees, increasing representation from the University community across the spectrum.

Importantly, we replaced a scant three Board committees with seven action-focused committees that meet more frequently to better conduct the important work of this great institution.

These working groups, historically and importantly focused on the academic and student life of our University, now add critical dedicated resources to such areas as audit and risk management, governance, human resources and long-range planning.

And -- in line with the necessity of expanding and reinforcing our strongly held belief that “We Are Penn State” -- we now have a dedicated outreach, development and community relations committee.

Further, and as you know, our Trustee and committee meetings are public, and we’ve added a question-and-answer period to each full Board meeting. Today will be our first public comment session; and we welcome your ideas, thoughts and comments.

While we are moving forward on many fronts, as I said at our last meeting, we accept the consequences of failure and we are remedying any wrongs.

We have implemented virtually all of Judge Freeh’s interim recommendations, and have now assigned review of the final recommendations to various joint University and Board committees.

Evaluation and implementation of these recommendations is a complex effort that must be approached with resolve -- and thoughtfulness.

The Board is committed to completing implementation of the Freeh recommendations by the end of next year or, in instances where implementation is not appropriate, providing the reasons why not.

President Erickson and I, as well as many other University leaders and representatives, have met with Sen. George Mitchell, Penn State’s appointed athletics integrity monitor, and other members of his team, and the University is making progress toward the requirements.

In regard to the NCAA actions, I ask you to read and consider, the seven very important -- and cogent -- points President Erickson made in his report to the Trustees at our Aug. 12 meeting regarding the acceptance of the NCAA sanctions. Those minutes, word-for-word, are posted on our website.

President Erickson presented compelling evidence of the necessity of the action he took in relation to those sanctions.

You may choose to disagree with his decision, but I don’t believe you can discount the thoughtful analysis he made -- and presents -- prior to making that decision.

There is no doubt in my mind he made the right one.

Let me note that the Board understands -- and shares -- the frustration of many of you, especially many of our most loyal and passionate alumni, in regard to the Freeh report and the NCAA sanctions. We understand how such frustration and anger can play out.

Our alumni are one of Penn State’s most valuable assets. As such, it is critically important for key members of the Board to meet and interact with alumni leadership.

Tomorrow, leaders of the Board of Trustees will meet with our counterparts of the Penn State Alumni Association to first, listen and then hopefully exchange ideas.

In addition, several Board members and I are meeting each month with an Alumni Advisory Group to discuss our moving forward plans and get their feedback and input.

But the process cannot end there.

I am also proposing that within the next few weeks and months we meet with alumni leadership across the University to further open communications and work collaboratively on the great challenges ahead.

This Board’s goal, which needs to be our common goal, is to create a clear path to build on our great heritage and become an even greater University.

But to create such a path, we must often make difficult and painful -- but necessary -- decisions.

As an institution we have made those tough, often unpopular, but necessary decisions.

In so doing, we never lost sight of, nor will we ever, our fundamental mission as educators and molders of character.

That mission is our fiber, our DNA. It is Penn State.

Because of it, “We Are Penn State.”

But we all recognize that path is challenging.

As with other universities across the country, we face difficult economic and fiscal times as we reaffirm our twin commitments to academic excellence and fiscal sustainability.

When we consider those financial challenges, let me make an important point here. While we cannot minimize the financial impact of recent events, specifically the NCAA actions, I can assure you the financial condition of Penn State is solid. It was solid before the unfolding of these events, and continues so.

Other challenges exist, challenges we need to turn into opportunity.

For instance, technology seems to dominate our lives. Its strategic implications and opportunities, now visible in all sectors of higher education, must be addressed. The choices that lie ahead are among the most critical.

Our World Campus platform is at the forefront of educational technology. We must continue that visible leadership, opening new frontiers in this growing area.

We Are Penn State and we accept such leadership responsibility.

And what about leveraging our special strengths? Where do future opportunities lie?

And what will define Penn State as one of the world’s great universities in the years and decades ahead?

How do we optimize our special character, the character of Penn State, and all that means, not just here in State College, but across our 24 diverse campuses?

Perhaps most compelling, what will it mean when we say, “We Are Penn State?”

At our last meeting I spoke of “The Blue & White Advisory Council.” Today, I am pleased to tell you the formation of this outstanding group is under way.

It will identify key strategic challenges and opportunities facing Penn State in the years ahead, a five- to 10-year time-span, and assess the implications for the University. It will focus on what the University is today, as well as what the University can and should be in the future.

And, it will seek answers to the questions I raised moments ago.

Advising this group will be Stan Ikenberry, who many of you know is the former University of Illinois president and current senior fellow at Penn State.

I am announcing that the presidential search process will begin in November. The members of that committee, the process, scope of its responsibilities and time table for completion will be announced then.

In addition, the search for a new provost continues.

The search for a new compliance officer is in the final stages.

Having a single compliance officer will centralize some 140 distributed compliance personnel under one organizational umbrella, giving us vastly better control and oversight.

We are updating other departments as well, including the important areas of human resources and University Relations.

Under way now, with the appointment of chief counsel Steve Dunham, is the enhancement of our legal department.

As is evident, we are totally revamping, upgrading and enhancing our management team and our infrastructure. The investments made to core functions are necessary, and will pay solid dividends for the future.

The Board also is broadening its own thinking and looking to the future. As I just announced, we are conducting an in-depth strategic review to be completed within six or seven months, which will coincide with the presidential search.

With the support of our greater Penn State community, and especially our alumni, with the successful execution of such plans and actions, we can -- together -- raise the Penn State brand to heights we all thought unattainable a little less than 12 months ago.

Clearly understand Penn State operates from a position of strength and high regard.

Our research enterprise continues to grow its reputation, as President Erickson will report in just a few moments.

This week more than 500 organizations -- 527 to be exact -- participated in our Fall Career Days. This is a robust turnout, and significantly, many companies registered for multiple days and reserved more booth space than in past years; all in the face of what everyone agrees is one of the most problematic job markets for new grads in recent memory.

Finally, on a personal note, I have spent most of my adult life in business, finance to be specific.

I can tell you unequivocally, that the reputation Penn State graduates carry with them into business -- or any other sector for that matter -- is one of intelligence, hard work and integrity.

We are Penn State, and we will succeed.

Thank you.


Topics: bot, karen peetz, board of trustees

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Penn State launches 'Faces of Penn State' campaign | Progress

Penn State launches ‘Faces of Penn State’ campaign

Penn State launches ‘Faces of Penn State’ campaign

A University campaign is shining a light on the countless outstanding and exceptional individuals that comprise the Penn State community.

To highlight and celebrate their stories, Faces of Penn State aims to showcase the personal accomplishments, public contributions and pioneering spirit resulting from the Penn State experience, education and community.

The people chosen for Faces of Penn State embody Penn State's values of teaching, research and service and may have achieved significant personal or professional achievements. They are students, faculty, staff, administrators, alumni and local community members whose accomplishments and achievements leave their communities and the world at large a better place.

Nearly 100,000 fans in Beaver Stadium for last weekend's Nittany Lions season opener received an early glimpse of the campaign through a video spot premiering several of the campaign's Faces.

The inaugural Faces featured in the video include notable names such as Evan Pugh Professor of Geosciences Richard Alley, who was a contributor to a Nobel Prize winning panel in 2007, as well as unsung heroes such as senior Celiena Bady, an international politics major who advocates for diversity at University Park and around the globe.

Throughout the 2012-13 academic year, new Faces will be unveiled on the campaign website as well as through a variety of materials and channels on and off campus. For more information on Faces of Penn State and to nominate an individual or group to be a part of the campaign, visit faces.psu.edu online.

 


Topics: faces of penn state

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Penn State agrees to terms of Athletics Integrity Agreement | Progress

Penn State agrees to terms of Athletics Integrity Agreement

Penn State University announced today that it reached agreement with the NCAA and the Big Ten Conference on the terms of the Athletics Integrity Agreement required under the Consent Decree. The Athletics Integrity Agreement (AIA) provides for the establishment of a program by the University that includes: the adoption of the recommendations contained in the Freeh Report; appointment of an Athletics Integrity Officer and Athletics Integrity Council.  The AIA also includes internal and external accountability measures and certifications; implementation or updating of the University's Code of Conduct ; training and education and a disclosure program.
 
The AIA, which goes into effect immediately, can be found here.
 
The AIA provides for the appointment of an independent third party monitor to oversee the University's compliance and the systems, processes and procedures in place to comply with the NCAA constitution, bylaws, rules and regulations, as well as the Big Ten's rules and regulations. Former U.S. Senator George J. Mitchell will serve as the independent monitor.
 
“Penn State is a world-class institution that prides itself on excellence in academics and athletics,” said Penn State President Rodney Erickson. “We pledge to work with Senator Mitchell to meet the terms of the Agreement and emerge from this process as a model for compliance.”
 


Topics: ncaa, big ten conference, athleticsintegrity agreement, consent decree, aia, george mitchell, president erickson, president rodey erickson

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Search process for new University president being planned | Progress

Search process for new University president being planned

On the final day of a two-day retreat (Aug. 26), Penn State trustees discussed the pending search for a new University president to replace Rodney Erickson when he retires in less than two years. The search is expected to start in earnest in early 2013.

Erickson, who took over in November as Penn State’s 17th president, is expected to retire on or before June 30 2014, as was announced previously. Since the search for a university president is generally a lengthy process, plans for naming several special committees to outline procedures and establish criteria and qualifications of candidates will begin soon, according to Trustee James Broadhurst, chairman of the board’s Committee on Governance and Long-Range Planning.

Broadhurst said that about a dozen individuals will be named in September to a Trustee Presidential Council headed by Board Chairwoman Karen Peetz. The makeup of this newly created group is expected to include Keith Masser, vice chairman of the board; and the chairman of each of the board’s six standing committees. In addition a representative from the following groups also will be selected: the Hershey Medical Center Board of Directors; the fundraising campaign, For the Future: The Campaign for Penn State Students; and the student body.

The charge of this Trustee Presidential Council will be to establish the criteria, qualifications and experience the University is seeking in its next president. The council also will set a timetable and establish a screening committee made up of deans, faculty, students, administrative staff and alumni. This committee will consider and screen candidates, working closely with a national search firm and recommend candidates to be interviewed for the post.

Broadhurst emphasized that searches at this level require “100 percent confidentiality,” given the nature of the position and Penn State's hopes of attracting the best possible candidate, who may be a sitting president elsewhere.

Current President Erickson said the position of university president has changed much over the decade, with far more internal and external demands being placed on the leaders of public institutions. Erickson, who will not be involved in any part of the search process, recommended that trustees cast their net broadly to attract the best candidates with the necessary experience for the post and look for candidates that possess the values that match those of the Penn State community.

“The pool in general is not as deep as it was 10 years ago, but it only takes one great person,” Erickson said. “Penn State is a world-class institution and one of the top public research universities in the country. I think you will have a number of really excellent candidates.”


Topics: bot, president erickson, president rodney erickson, trustee presidential council, james broadhurst, committee on governance and long-range planning

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Board chairman delivers remarks during Trustees' special meeting | Progress

Board chairman delivers remarks during Trustees’ special meeting

Board chairman delivers remarks during Trustees’ special meeting

Chairman Karen Peetz delivered the following remarks during a special meeting of Penn State's Board of Trustees on Aug. 25.

University Trustees are participating in a series of special meetings this weekend at the Penn Stater Conference Center and Hotel on the University Park campus; public sessions are being streamed live online. For more information about the meetings, visit http://live.psu.edu/story/60837.


We Are Penn State.

Four words synonymous with heritage, achievement, leadership and responsibility.

Four words we live by. Four words that are special and carry meaning for each of us.

We know that Penn State is a special place.

It is a place:
Where students with ambition, ability and potential have their lives transformed.
Where researchers and faculty find solutions to the world’s most vexing challenges.
Where staff take great pride in their work and University.
Where student athletes excel on the playing field and in the classroom.
And where alumni passion and commitment are unsurpassed.

We are Penn State.

We are all about serving our 96,000 students throughout the Commonwealth and beyond… Focusing on our land grant mission… So that every one of our students can reach his or her full potential through their Penn State experience and degree.

We are world class faculty and students committed to our studies. In fact, in just the past few weeks, we were ranked within the top 50 universities worldwide for academic accomplishment.

We are well-rounded individuals, making Penn State students and alumni so highly desirable in today’s competitive marketplace.

We are Penn State.

As we focus on the future, we cannot underestimate or minimize the broad and immense impact recent events have had on our community, and of course, on the victims who have suffered much longer.

We are Penn State and as we move forward, accepting the consequences of failure, remedying any wrongs, but not losing sight of the outstanding heritage we've built for nearly 160 years. We have been through challenging times, and we move forward with confidence renewed in who we are, and who we can become.

We are entering a new era of high standards of corporate governance, where the University’s -- and this Board of Trustees’ -- deliberations and actions are open and transparent. Except for limited sensitive, legal or individual personnel matters, The Board meetings will be open and available to all.

A prime example of this was our recent Board of Trustees call on Sunday, August 12, which was open to the public. A more obvious signal is our public meetings today and tomorrow.

We will communicate more directly, frequently and openly. We have expanded our online presence with a website called “Progress” dedicated to the progress we are making as well as a site that provides information about the Board of Trustees and its actions, including meeting agendas, minutes and other material.

We are taking action to strengthen our University. We recently announced a new chief counsel, Steve Dunham, who joins us from Johns Hopkins. Steve has already brought a fresh, new and needed perspective.

At our meetings today and tomorrow, the Board is considering several more key matters.

Importantly, we will be discussing searches, in due course, for a new president and a new provost, in addition to our current search for a leader of compliance across the University. These are all highly important leadership positions.

We will deliberate about the right timing and sequencing for these critical searches while we maintain complete confidence in, and endorsement of, our current leadership.

It is my hope these discussions will, in short order, lead to actions resulting in the framing of the search objectives, naming of committee members, and setting achievable timelines. We will keep everyone informed as we progress.

For better oversight and effectiveness, we will also be establishing more central control over both the human resources and the compliance functions throughout the University. These are important steps to enhance the University’s infrastructure, and modernize key administrative functions, while recognizing that certain aspects of these functions must be performed at the level where the activity occurs.

The board believes we cannot stand still as an organization and accept the status quo, but must focus on best practices from both operational and skills points-of-view.

We will continue to review and discuss with University management how we can enhance both effectiveness and efficiencies.

To broaden and expand our own thinking and perspectives, the board is also discussing the formation of “The Blue & White Distinguished Advisory Group” with broad global experience.

The advisory group would be a wise and valuable adjunct to the skills and capabilities of our management team and our board. The primary objective of the group will be to provide their unique perspective on our future strategy to maintain our world class academic stature, and as a prelude to the transition to new presidential leadership.

Earlier, I spoke about transparency as a first step in improved corporate governance. In the coming months I will be engaging the board in further discussions on other aspects of good corporate governance.

I anticipate these discussions will focus on such issues as aligning the board with all its constituents, current trends and thinking, as well as overall best practices.

We will strive for flawless execution in addressing those issues; whether in the classroom, the research lab, the hospital room, or on the athletic field.

These coming months will, for sure, bring more than chill winds and blowing snow. They will bring stiff challenges, testing us all. Testing, whether or not, in fact…

…We Are Penn State.

Understand clearly, these months ahead may be less shocking, but they may well be more difficult as the legal ramifications of this tragedy continue to play out. We must be prepared to address these issues head on.

To do so, we must execute the changes necessary and the changes we pledged and be true to our values. We have begun to do so.

Earlier this month I reported that Judge Freeh's interim recommendations, which he presented to us early this year, have either been implemented or are substantially complete.

Now, this weekend and in the immediate weeks ahead, the board will discuss and consider the administration’s plan to review and implement, as appropriate, the final recommendations of Judge Freeh’s July report. We are focused on the recommendations in Section 10. We must move forward with urgency.

Additionally, we as a board must lead, with the guidance of Senator George Mitchell, in effectuating the NCAA Athletic Integrity Agreement, which focuses on compliance and cultural issues.

We have met with the Senator and pledged our full cooperation. The leaders of our Athletic Department, including the head coaches, are fully on board with this compliance effort.

Clearly these are issues we wished we would never have faced.

If only … two wishful words.

But reality is often cruel and harsh…and responsibility is often difficult to accept…but we must do so.

There are some with differing opinions, some who say “fight back.” While I am respectful of those individuals, let me be clear:

We must not -- and will not -- waiver in accepting reality and responsibility.

We will take decisive action to right wrongs, change and improve processes and operations and demonstrate values-based leadership in all that we do.

And we will continue to make Penn State the institution we are all so proud of.

So, we must be as flawless as humanly possible in executing these critical actions.

In so doing, we will put Penn State on a clear path to continue to realize our land grant educational mission… and all that it embodies.

That is what we believe in…

That is what we are here for…

There is no doubt we can do it. We can re-connect, through our shared values, our passion for our University and our love for its community.
We are a great University that can get even better.
We will be the best public University.
Our values of decency, hard work, and service develop students into self-made people who go on to make important contributions to America and the world.
We embrace the future.

We Are -- after all -- Penn State !


Topics: karen peetz, bot, board of trustees

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Levi named next director of Center for the Protection of Children | Progress

Levi named next director of Center for the Protection of Children

Levi named next director of Center for the Protection of Children

Benjamin H. Levi, M.D., Ph.D., a professor of pediatrics and humanities at Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center and Penn State College of Medicine, has assumed the directorship of the Center for the Protection of Children at Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital.  Dr. Levi, a practicing pediatrician and highly published expert in the area of mandated reporting of suspected child abuse, recently returned from a year-long sabbatical overseas examining how other countries protect children from abuse, including how abuse and neglect are reported to law enforcement.

Levi succeeds center inaugural director Andrea Taroli, M.D., who will focus on development of the Children’s Hospital’s clinical program for child protection—along with Kate Crowell, M.D., and Laura Duda, M.D., who are the founding members of this clinical team—a program integral to the center’s overall mission to improve the detection, treatment, and prevention of child abuse.

Launched in December 2011, the Center for the Protection of Children brings together an interdisciplinary group of Penn State clinicians and researchers who are well respected for their achievements in the field of child abuse. Based at Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital on the Medical Center and College of Medicine campus, the center is a collaborative effort whose goals are to prevent maltreatment, improve reporting of suspected abuse, provide comprehensive care for children who have experienced abuse, and advance knowledge about how best to protect vulnerable children and support them and their families.

“With his expertise in studying child abuse and processes for reporting abuse and neglect in the United States and abroad, Dr. Levi brings a valuable global perspective to the leadership of the Center for the Protection of Children,” said Harold L. Paz, M.D., Medical Center chief executive officer, Penn State’s senior vice president for health affairs, and dean, Penn State College of Medicine. “Dr. Levi’s broad-based experience in developing creative partnerships, tools and educational programs to address the problem of child maltreatment will enable him to build on the foundation already established under Dr. Taroli’s leadership and further expand the Center’s clinical, educational, research, and advocacy activities.”

For the past 10 years, Dr. Levi has worked on the topic of mandated reporting of suspected abuse, including developing the “Look Out for Child Abuse” web site—which includes Pennsylvania’s only online tool for reporting suspected abuse—in conjunction with the Center on Children and the Law at Penn State Dickinson School of Law. As center director, Dr. Levi will continue the work of strengthening existing collaborations and building new ones across Penn State and with community partners toward the goal of developing a truly integrated, interdisciplinary approach to addressing the causes and consequences of child maltreatment.

Ongoing initiatives of the center include:
•    Establishment of The TLC (Transforming the Lives of Children) Clinic to provide comprehensive primary care to and serve as a “medical home” for victims of child abuse who are in foster care
•    Development of cutting-edge, high-tech, multi-media mandated reporter educational modules to those on the front lines for protecting children, with school teachers the first target audience
•    Recruitment of an additional pediatrician specializing in child abuse, a psychologist with expertise in traumatic stress, and a social science researcher to establish the foundation for an accredited three-year subspecialty training program in child abuse pediatrics

Dr. Levi emphasizes the role of the center as a community partner. “Our shared vision for the center is to be a top-flight clinical and academic resource for those concerned with protecting children. And it is one of the center’s goals to integrate our efforts with many of the community organizations and individuals doing good work on behalf of children.”


Topics: penn state milton s. hershey medical center, benjamin levi, center for the protection of children, penn state hershey center for the protection of children, andrea taroli

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Penn State to Convene Experts for National Conference on Child Sexual Abuse | Progress

Penn State to Convene Experts for National Conference on Child Sexual Abuse

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa., Aug. 15, 2012 – This fall, Penn State will convene some of the nation’s top experts in child sexual abuse and child trauma research, prevention, and treatment for a public forum on this nationwide problem. The Child Sexual Abuse Conference: Traumatic Impact, Prevention, and Intervention will take place at the Penn Stater Conference Center Hotel on Oct. 29-30, 2012.

The two-day conference will feature discussions with Sugar Ray Leonard and Elizabeth Smart, both of whom suffered sexual abuse as children. Leonard, an American boxing icon and Olympic gold medalist, will deliver a keynote address and participate in a Q&A with attendees, while Smart will serve as the conference’s closing speaker. The event will also include nationally recognized experts in the field of child sexual abuse and child trauma from across academia, including:

  • Dr. David Finkelhor, director of the Crimes against Children Research Center at the University of New Hampshire;
  • Dr. Penelope Trickett, David Lawrence Stein/Violet Goldberg Sachs Professor of Mental Health in the School of Social Work at the University of Southern California; and
  • Lucy Berliner, director of the Harborview Center for Sexual Assault and Traumatic Stress; clinical associate professor at the University of Washington School of Social Work and Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences.

Registration for the conference is open to the general public at http://protectchildren.psu.edu/.

“More than nine percent of children were victims of sexual abuse in 2010, according to the latest national survey, and this doesn’t take into account severe under-reporting of this crime. Research shows that child sexual abuse affects children of all ages, both genders, and all ethnicities and socioeconomic backgrounds. No group of children is exempt. Nonetheless, it remains an issue that the nation finds difficult to talk about,” said Kate Staley, a researcher at the Penn State Justice Center for Research, a co-organizer of the event. “This conference will bring together compelling speakers who are experts in child sexual abuse and child trauma and who know how to translate their knowledge for the general public. We believe this event will raise awareness of this national problem and teach all of us how to better protect our children.”

Organized by the Penn State Justice Center for Research and Penn State Outreach, the conference will address a variety of topics, including the traumatic impact of child sexual abuse, evidence-based methods of treatment and prevention, characteristics of pedophiles including their use of the internet as a gateway for child sexual abuse, and the legal issues involved in a child abuse investigation. It is designed to help educate the public in Pennsylvania and across the nation about this critical issue.

“Penn State has made a commitment to becoming a leader in the research, prevention and treatment of child abuse, and this conference is an important part of that,” said Penn State President Rodney Erickson. “What happened at Penn State could – and does – happen in other communities across the country, and we hope that this conference will be a catalyst for furthering the knowledge that can lead to a safer environment for children in our nation and around the world.”

Partnering on the conference are the Penn State Hershey Center for the Protection of Children, Child Study Center, Prevention Research Center, and the Penn State Center for Children and the Law. Other participating organizations include the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape, the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, and the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children.

For more information and to register, please visit http://protectchildren.psu.edu/.

Media Contact: Lisa Powers, Director, Penn State Department of Public Information; (814) 865-7517

###

Penn State’s Justice Center for Research, a partnership with the College of the Liberal Arts and University Outreach, is co-located at 327 Pond Building on the University Park campus and The 329 Building at Innovation Park. For more information about the center, visit http://www.justicecenter.psu.edu/.

Penn State Conferences plans and manages 60 to 80 programs each year, which represent the diversity and strength of Penn State’s academic colleges and provide opportunities for individuals to learn about the latest scholarship, research and developments in their fields or participate in enriching learning experiences. Penn State Conferences is part of Penn State Outreach, which serves more than 5 million people each year, in all 67 Pennsylvania counties, all 50 states and more than 100 countries worldwide.


Topics: child abuse prevention

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Penn State's accreditation remains intact | Progress

Penn State’s accreditation remains intact

A recent warning from the Middle States Commission on Higher Education related to Penn State's accreditation does not involve the academic quality of Penn State or its programs. The University's accreditation remains intact and its leaders are confident they will satisfy the commission's concerns.

"This warning has no bearing on our educational programs or the integrity of those programs," said Penn State President Rodney Erickson. "What's being looked at are issues of governance, integrity and institutional resources related to the fallout from the child sexual abuse scandal involving former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky."

Erickson said the warning seeks documentation of steps the University will take and has already taken to ensure compliance with the MSCHE's standards. The MSCHE is questioning three of 14 standards (listed above) and asks the University to provide full documentation by Sept. 30 via a monitoring report.

Middle States is the organization that accredits degree-granting colleges and universities in the Middle States region, which includes Delaware, the District of Columbia, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and several other locations.

Erickson said the University has already addressed numerous issues, such as leadership and its governance structure, and continues to work on other areas of concern. A team from MSCHE will visit Penn State in October to assess the University's progress and then prepare a report that the University will have an opportunity to review.  MSCHE will then decide if it should remove the warning, keep it in effect, or take other action. 

"I am completely confident that we will fully demonstrate our fiscal stability, as well as our commitment to integrity, appropriate governance and new leadership," Erickson said.
For more information on the Middle States process and recent actions relative to the University, visit http://www.psu.edu/vpaa/accreditation.htm.

Update - 8/19/2012: To download a PDF of FAQs that the Middle States Commission on Higher Education developed regarding Penn State's accreditation, please click here.


Topics: accreditation, middle states commission on higher education, president erickson, president rodney erickson, msche, middle states

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Remarks from BOT Chairman Karen Peetz during the Aug. 12 special meeting | Progress

Remarks from BOT Chairman Karen Peetz during the Aug. 12 special meeting

Remarks from BOT Chairman Karen Peetz during the Aug. 12 special meeting

The following remarks were made by BOT Chairman Karen Peetz during today's (Aug. 12) special meeting regarding the NCAA consent decree:

Over the last few days, questions have been raised about the process in which the NCAA crafted and imposed, and the University accepted, what are unquestionably harsh sanctions that will have a significant impact on the University and its students, student-athletes, alumni, faculty, staff and other constituencies.  Questions have also been raised about the Freeh Report and how that report was used by the NCAA as the basis for its action.

I had intended to call for a vote this evening to ratify the Consent Decree.   Not because ratification is legally required.  It is not.  But, rather, because President Erickson's authority had been challenged publicly by some of our own trustees, the leadership of the Board wanted to publicly demonstrate the Board's support of President Erickson and the University's commitment to fully perform and comply with the Consent Decree.  We had hoped to clear up any lingering misunderstanding with respect to the Board's and the University's position on this matter.  Given that Trustee McCombie yesterday indicated publicly that he has instructed his lawyer to refrain from taking any further action, a formal vote may not be as necessary as we had initially anticipated.

In addition, we have a technical legal issue that prevents us from taking a vote this evening.  The University's Charter, written in 1855, contains a provision that requires ten days' written notice of any meeting of the Board.  Our Bylaws contain a different provision, requiring three days' prior notice.  Because of this inconsistency, and because by law, an organization's bylaws may not be inconsistent with law or its charter, out of an abundance of caution, we will not be taking any official action this evening.  In that regard, I will not entertain any motions this evening.

Regardless of whether we vote, however, I would like to be clear on one thing.  I absolutely support President Erickson and his decision to accept the Consent Decree as the only real option in the extraordinarily difficult circumstances and the choices we were presented.  It is my sense that every member of this Board also fully supports President Erickson, even though we may not agree with the process used by the NCAA or with the harshness of the sanctions imposed.  President Erickson's leadership throughout this extraordinarily difficult time has been invaluable and is greatly appreciated by every member of the Board.  On that, we all agree.

We also agree that our fiduciary duty as trustees is to do what is best for the University, not just in the short term, but with a long term perspective, keeping in mind our mission:  to be a world class multi-campus public research university that educates students from Pennsylvania, the nation and the world and improves the well being and health of individuals and communities through integrated programs of teaching, research, and service.

After speaking with many members of the Board and in light of the comments that we have received over the past two weeks, I believe that further discussion of the issues is warranted.  I hope that by having this discussion in an open forum, the public will be able to gain a better understanding of how the decision on the Consent Decree was reached, why the University believed, and still believes, that it was the best alternative available to it – indeed, I am confident that most of the Board believes that it was the only real option --, and what the University's plans are with respect to compliance with the Consent Decree and the Freeh Report.

We intend to comply fully with the Consent Decree  and the Athletics Integrity Agreement still to be finalized and to be a national model for compliance with the NCAA Constitution, Bylaws and its rules and regulations.  At the outset of our discussions with the NCAA, we asked that the Consent Decree include language to expressly provide for reconsideration in the event of the University's outstanding performance.   We continued to urge the NCAA to consider such a provision, as late as Friday of last week.   The NCAA rejected our requests in each case, including by a vote of their Executive