Penn State Trustee Broadhurst testifies before Senate State Government Committee

HARRISBURG, Pa. -- James Broadhurst, Penn State trustee and chairman of the board’s Committee on Governance and Long-Range Planning, testified before the Pennsylvania Senate State Government Committee on March 18. The hearing was convened to allow senators to examine changes that already have taken place at the University and explore further potential improvements to the University’s system of governance.  Joining Mr. Broadhurst at the witness table were Board Chair Keith Masser, and Trustee Ira Lubert.

The full text of Broadhurst's testimony is available on Penn State's news website.

"Today I would like to share with you the measures we have undertaken since early 2012, and those we expect to adopt this May, which respond to most of the critiques and criticisms of our governance structure that we, through self-examination over the past 16 months, and others, have identified," Broadhurst said. "I can say unequivocally that we have accepted the criticisms and suggestions from all quarters as serious contributions to our review and analysis, and while not accepting all, have adopted or will adopt many recommendations that have originated from outside the University."

In his testimony, Broadhurst cited significant changes adopted by the board within the last year, including:

-- The addition of three new committees, for a total of six, providing for greater oversight and engagement by trustees, and expansion of membership of certain committees to include faculty, staff and student representation;

-- Key staff positions, including general counsel and directors of internal audit and compliance, now report to the president and the board;

-- Refinements to term limits; and

-- increased opportunities for public participation and engagement in meetings of the board and its committees.

The board’s Committee on Governance and Long-Range Planning also has recommended to the full board a redefinition of the University president's duties and changing the status of the president and Pennsylvania’s governor to be ex-officio, nonvoting members of the board, among other recommendations to be voted upon by the full board in May.

“With these collective changes, practically all of the Auditor General’s recommendations and to the extent that they relate to the University’s organizational documents, the Freeh Group’s recommendations, have been dealt with in whole or in part,” Broadhurst said. The committee also is considering recommendations made this month by Penn State’s Faculty Senate Special Committee on University Governance. He said the process of reform will continue; the board is constantly evolving in its work to provide the best possible governance structure for the University.

Broadhurst said that while there is no best practice or optimal size of a university board of trustees across the nation, Penn State's board is similar in size to those of other public research universities in Pennsylvania.

"Our board has the added benefit of greater alumni representation and variety of membership reflective of the Commonwealth’s interests," Broadhurst said. “We see this high degree of membership variety and alumni involvement as one of our greatest strengths as a board, and recommend that any additional changes be made only after much further consideration.”

Legislators have said the meeting will be the first in a series of hearings examining the governance of state-related universities. Future hearings will explore the boards of trustees at Lincoln University, the University of Pittsburgh and Temple University.

Last Updated March 18, 2013