Penn St trustees open 2 days of meetings

Penn State acting Athletic Director David Joyner listens during Penn State University board of trustees member meeting at the schools's Worthington Scranton campus, Friday, July 13, 2012, in Dunmore, Pa. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
September 13, 2012 8:02:50 PM PDT
Penn State trustees opened two days of meetings Thursday, and the agenda includes the recommendations for the school from former FBI director Louis Freeh in response to the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal.

It's the board's first formal meeting since the NCAA punished Penn State with strict sanctions in July following Freeh's scathing report.

Trustees met in committees Thursday to discuss issues but did not take any votes. Committees discussing legal issues and the university's risk met in private.

The full board votes on issues Friday.

A committee devoted to outreach met in public session Thursday and discussed a new multi-pronged public relations campaign designed to tell stories about school researchers, alumni and students, and how the university is moving forward.

The blitz includes a "Faces of Penn State" web and video outreach effort that "aims to showcase the personal accomplishments, public contributions and pioneering spirit resulting from the Penn State experience, education and community," the school has said in a statement.

The campaign will also include interviews with national media outlets in New York, Mike Holloway, a senior vice president with the public relations firm Edelman, told the committee. The intent was to promote the university's response to the scandal and NCAA sanctions ahead of expected stories for the one-year anniversary of the start of the scandal.

Sandusky, a retired defensive coordinator, was arrested Nov. 5. His former boss, head coach Joe Paterno, was fired by trustees four days later, and school president Graham Spanier was ousted.

Freeh in his report said that Paterno, Spanier and two other school officials concealed allegations against Sandusky, who is awaiting sentencing in jail after being convicted in June of 45 criminal counts.

Paterno died in January at age 85 of lung cancer. His family -along with Spanier and the school officials - have all vehemently denied the allegations.

The NCAA levied landmark sanctions on the program including a four-year postseason ban and significant scholarship cuts. Since then, university leaders have pressed on with a message of moving forward.

"We have a very effective and appropriate story of our own ... The things that we have done to take corrective action and positive things," said trustee Mark Dambly, who heads the outreach committee.

The committee discussed three minor Freeh recommendations, including whether trustees should each have their own Penn State email addresses in order to be better accessible to the public. Emails are currently forwarded to the trustees office.

The committee also plans to present a "crisis management" plan to the full board Friday.

The university has already implemented an initial Freeh recommendation to restrict public access to athletic facilities. Vice president Tom Poole said a survey of other Big Ten schools found that Penn State was the only school with completely open access. The school has received some complaints.

"Already we're beginning to take a second look at that to find if there's some way to get a middle ground," Poole said.

At the end of that meeting, a woman seated in the room who did not identify herself asked Dambly about a rumor that the school was still negotiating with the NCAA and had not accepted all the sanctions.

"We have accepted those sanctions and to the best of my knowledge, there are no ongoing negotiations with the NCAA," he said.

Otherwise, the sanctions were not discussed at the outreach meeting.

Also Thursday, a committee on academic affairs and student life discussed a presentation on sustainability efforts across the Penn State campuses.

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