Penn State trustees focus on ‘moving forward’

    “Moving forward” was a phrase repeated many times Friday during the first meeting of Penn State’s Board of Trustees since the school was enveloped in the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse case last fall.

    University president Rod Erickson said the school is taking steps to move past the scandal.

    One of those steps was the election of banking executive Karen Peetz as president of the 32-member board. Peetz, a vice chairwoman of The Bank of New York Mellon, said the board will focus on themes of change, reform and transparency.

     

    Board trustee Ken Frazier says the special investigation into how Penn State handled the matter has already produced recommendations to change the school’s policies regarding minors and reporting suspected abuse, said Ken Frazier, a board member.

    “It may take years … to fully come to terms with this tragedy,” Frazier said. “But one element of doing so is to understand how the alleged acts could have happened here at Penn State, where the breakdowns occurred. Who knew what, when, and what changes we can make going forward to prevent such anguish.”

    Gov. Tom Corbett led the trustees in a round of applause for what he calls the students’ efforts to calm the school after beloved head football coach Joe Paterno was fired.

    “I am tremendously impressed by the work of the students in calming the situation after the events of November,” Corbett said. “And unfortunately I think they’ve been a lost story to the media whether it be local, statewide or national of their efforts.”

    Frazier commended Louis Freeh, the former FBI director and former federal judge, who is leading an investigation into how the school handled the scandal.

    “They’ve been directed to show no favoritism toward any party including the administration and every member of the board of trustees itself,” Frazier said. “The task force shall ensured Mr. Freeh total independence so that this mandate can be fulfilled.”

    The meeting comes after a week in which trustees have been giving interviews defending their decision to fire Paterno for not doing enough to tell police about an allegation of child sexual abuse.

    Trustees have been quoted faulting former school president Graham Spanier for failing to lead the school in a crisis.

    Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

    It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.