Alumni group seeks new PSU trustees over Paterno

John Surma, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the Penn State University Board of Trustees, center, answers questions after announcing the firing of university President Graham Spanier, and football coach Joe Paterno in State College, Pa.,Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2011. At left is Steve Garban, senior vice-president for finance and operations. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

January 6, 2012 1:31:33 PM PST
A group of Penn State alumni unhappy about the firing of football coach Joe Paterno said Friday it hopes to field a slate of candidates to serve on the Board of Trustees.

Penn Staters for Responsible Stewardship said it hopes to endorse people to run in the spring election for three seats on the board that are reserved for alumni. The group has a website and about 2,000 members on a Facebook page devoted to replacing the board.

Group spokeswoman Maribeth Roman Schmidt says members believe the board mishandled the November firing of Paterno and the ouster of president Graham Spanier after the Nov. 5 arrest of former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky on child sex-abuse charges.

"It just bubbled up as a result of alumni who wanted to feel they were making a positive contribution toward moving the university forward, and a group of people who shared a common observation that it seemed like there was a rush to judgment," said Schmidt, who graduated from the university in 1988.

Alumni trustee David Jones said Friday he will not run for a sixth three-year term, while alumni trustee Anne Riley said she had not decided whether to run for re-election. The other alumni seat that will open this year was held most recently by Dr. David Joyner, who stepped down to serve as the school's acting athletic director.

Nine of the 32 active trustees are selected by the school's alumni, with staggered three-year terms. Five others, including the governor, qualify by holding certain positions within the university or state government, six are appointed by the governor, six are elected by the state's organized agricultural societies and six are picked by the board to represent business and industry.

Sandusky awaits trial on 52 criminal counts that he abused 10 boys over a 15-year period, allegations he has denied. Also arrested were the school's athletic director, Tim Curley, and vice president, Gary Schultz, on charges they lied to a grand jury investigating Sandusky and did not properly report suspected child abuse. They also are awaiting trial and have denied the allegations.

Paterno and Spanier, who were not charged with any crime, both remain Penn State employees.