New leadership on tap for Penn State trustees
STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) -- Penn State's Board of Trustees will get new leadership at a critical juncture as the school deals with the lingering fallout from the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal.
Members of the university's governing body are holding a retreat on campus Thursday to discuss potential reforms, before starting two days of regularly-scheduled meetings in the afternoon.
Keith Masser, who owns a potato farming company in Schuylkill County, is expected to be voted in as the board chairman on Friday. The current chair, Karen Peetz, announced last month she was stepping down from her leadership post after being promoted to president of the Bank of New York Mellon.
Masser had been vice chair. He is the only candidate for chair, while lawyer Stephanie Deviney is the only candidate to take over as vice chair, though nominations can also be made at the time of Friday's election.
But the process is expected to be just a formality. There are more pressing issues for trustees, most notably potential settlements with Sandusky's accusers.
Penn State President Rodney Erickson has said he was pleased with the progress of talks, which the university hoped would lead to a private settlement that would avoid protracted litigation.
Sandusky, a retired defensive coordinator, was sentenced last year to at least 30 years in prison following his conviction on charges that he molested 10 boys over 15 years. The former Penn State assistant football coach has maintained his innocence.
Besides studying governance reforms, the university is also in the process of looking for a replacement for Erickson, who plans to step down when his contract expires in 2014. Also, a new round of elections for three alumni-held trustee seats will be held this spring.
The school is trying to recover from the massive scandal that unfolded following Sandusky's arrest in November 2011. Hall of Fame coach Joe Paterno was fired as part of the fallout, and Erickson's predecessor, Graham Spanier, also departed under pressure.
The NCAA then levied strict sanctions last July, penalties that are now the focus of a federal antitrust lawsuit from Gov. Tom Corbett.
Jan. 22 is one year to the day that Paterno died at age 85 following a two-month battle with lung cancer. Many alumni, local residents and former players are still angry about the NCAA sanctions, as well as over how Paterno's dismissal was handled by university leadership.