Committee advances two former trustees for emeritus status consideration

September 15, 2016

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Keith W. Eckel and Alvin H. Clemens, both former members of the Penn State Board of Trustees, were recommended for the position of trustee emeritus at a meeting of the Committee on Governance and Long-Range Planning today (Sept. 15). The recommendations require the approval of the full board at its meeting on Sept. 16.

Emeritus status is an honorary position granted to former board members. Emeriti trustees draw on their prior experience as trustees to provide counsel as needed, and are invited to participate in University events and activities. Emeriti trustees are invited to attend public meetings of the board, and the chair of the board can appoint emeriti trustees to serve as non-voting members on certain standing committees.

A Scranton native, Eckel served on the board for 15 years after being elected by delegates from agricultural societies in 2001. Eckel is president of Fred W. Eckel Sons Farms Inc., a vegetable farming operation in Clarks Summit. He is also the former chairman of the board of Nationwide Mutual Insurance Co.

Active in the agriculture community, Eckel is a former board member of the Pennsylvania Vegetable Growers Association, the Pennsylvania Agricultural Land Preservation Board, the American Farm Bureau Federation, and the Board for International Food and Agricultural Development. He is a former president of the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau, a position he held for 15 years, and the Lackawanna County Cooperative Extension Association, as well as a former vice president of the Pennsylvania Council of Cooperative Extension Associations.

A longtime Penn State benefactor, Eckel donated $50,000 in 2008 to establish the Eckel Family Trustee Scholarship, which supports undergraduate students in the College of Agricultural Sciences. He also has committed $500,000 from his estate to endow Penn State Outreach programs in rural and 4-H leadership.

Eckel received the Master Farmer award from Penn State in 1982 and the American Farm Bureau Federation Distinguished Service Award in 2009. He attended Keystone Junior College, Dickinson College and Penn State.

Clemens served on the board for 19 years after being appointed by Gov. Tom Ridge in 1995. Clemens founded Academy Insurance Group in 1969 and served as chairman and CEO through 1985. From 1988 to 1998, he was chairman and CEO of Provident American Corp., which owned Provident American Life and Provident Indemnity Life and Health. He also has served as founder, chairman and CEO of Health Axis; founder, chairman and CEO of Health Benefits Direct, now InsPro Technologies LLC; chairman and CEO of The Provident Corporation; and executive chairman of U.S. Hospital Direct.

In 1997, Clemens was honored with the Penn State Alumni Fellow Award. In addition, Clemens has served on the Penn State Smeal College of Business board of visitors and the Penn State Great Valley School of Graduate Professional Studies advisory board.

Outside of his service to Penn State, Clemens has served on the Pennsylvania Insurance Federation executive committee and board of directors and the Pennsylvania Convention Center Expansion advisory committee. In 1996, he was appointed chairman of the Banking and Insurance Committee for the Pennsylvania Impact Commission. 

Clemens earned a bachelor of science degree in business from Penn State in 1959 and continued with graduate work at San Diego State University.

A trustee must serve for six or more years with distinction to be considered for emeritus status, and the Committee on Governance and Long-Range Planning then reviews the service records of eligible trustees and recommends them to the full board for this honor. All chairs of the board are automatically named trustee emeritus upon retirement or resignation.

Trustee emeritus status lasts for six years, at which time the member retains the title but relinquishes all other rights and privileges of the honor.

Last Updated September 15, 2016