Board to hold retreat with new governance consultant

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Penn State's Board of Trustees will have a long day today (Jan. 16). After a full morning of committee meetings, board members will attend a retreat led by its governance consultant, Holly J. Gregory.

Gregory was hired in November to assist the board with its evaluation and discussion of ongoing governance issues, including the optimal size of the board, which stakeholder groups should be represented through elected or ex-officio positions, term limits, communication, standards for emeritus status and evaluations for trustees. At least some of these issues are expected to be addressed during the retreat, which is scheduled to run through the afternoon and into the evening.

"This will be the first time the full board will be meeting with our new consultant. We're looking forward to getting the conversation started with her on the many important topics related to board governance," said Keith Masser, chair of the Board of Trustees.

While most of the retreat will be held in executive session, there will be a public portion from 1 to 2 p.m., which will be streamed to Room 108 of the Penn Stater Conference Center Hotel, and at online.

Penn State's Board of Trustees continues to make changes to governance and oversight procedures that emulate best practices for governing bodies. Some recent changes the board has undertaken include:

-- Changes to its charter, bylaws and standing to reorganize its committee structure, moving from three committees to seven standing committees that include the Committee on Academic Affairs and Student Life; Committee on Finance, Business and Capital Planning; Committee on Governance and Long-Range Planning; Committee on Legal and Compliance; Committee on Audit and Risk; Committee on Outreach, Development and Community Relations; and Committee on Compensation.

-- Providing an opportunity for guests to address the board during a specific time set aside at each public meeting.

-- Increasing the number of representatives invited to attend meetings to represent alumni, faculty, staff and students.

-- Reducing the number of voting trustees to 30. 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.

-- Extending three-year term limits to all trustees (appointed and elected) and setting term limits effective with terms beginning July 1, 2013 or after.

-- Modifying the quorum requirement from 13 to a majority of the voting members.

-- Strengthening its comprehensive conflict of interest policy.

"The efforts to instill best practices in all aspects of board governance are an ongoing process of change," Masser said. "The advice and counsel we receive from these sessions are invaluable to the University and the board as we continue to improve and streamline operations and add better communications to the mix."

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Last Updated January 16, 2014