A letter from Penn State President Eric Barron

May 05, 2015

The following statement from Penn State President Eric J. Barron was sent today (May 5) as a response to an email request from alumni-elected Trustees Edward B. Brown III, Barbara L. Doran, Robert C. Jubelirer, Anthony Lubrano, Ryan J. McCombie, William F. Oldsey, and Alice Pope, who are seeking payment for fees they incurred in bringing legal action against the University. A copy of the Trustees letter can be found at this link. The president's response follows.

This is in response to your letter to me of May 4, 2015, a copy of which is attached. In your letter, you made the demand that the University pay your legal fees and related expenses in connection with the growing number of lawsuits you have filed or threatened against the University and its Trustees. Your request is made even more outrageous by your threat of yet another lawsuit against Penn State if we do not pay your costs of suing the University.

First, the Bylaws do not require the University to pay for lawsuits against it, including frivolous and damaging lawsuits like the petition you filed yesterday. 

As you are aware, your last lawsuit was completely unnecessary. You demanded the names and information about trustee candidates who were not selected, when confidentiality is a standard practice among non-profits to ensure that high-caliber candidates apply. You did so even though the requested documents have nothing to do with the exercise of your fiduciary duties. Board communications to you over the past few days clearly offered to make available to you the requested materials subject only to your commitment that you would keep the information confidential. Rather than simply agree to maintain that confidence, which, as fiduciaries, you are obligated by law and Board policies to do, you elected to litigate. It is difficult to fathom why you would squander University resources in such a manner. The University will not pay you to sue us. If anything, you should be offering to reimburse the University for its legal costs in responding to this lawsuit. 

Second, as President, I am very concerned about your approach to confidentiality and to your fiduciary responsibilities. We have a growing number of failures to abide by the Board’s Expectations of Membership, even when the potential for serious financial harm to the University is evident. We have moved into a position of having to repeatedly reconfirm the commitment to confidentiality in order to protect the University from unnecessary harm. I now hear regularly from students, faculty, staff and alumni expressing both concern and fatigue in seeing our own Trustees suing their University. Penn State’s mission is teaching, research and service. Your actions are not serving that mission. It seems to many of us that this is becoming a campaign against Penn State. Please reconsider these unfortunate actions.

Eric J. Barron
President

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated May 05, 2015