Wednesday's unanimous 11-0 vote by a Senate Committee confirmed that the alumni who have pushed for reforming the BOT are not vocal minority. With 36 co-sponsors on the bill, the majority of the PA Senate have sided with the alumni.
However, the unanimous vote by the committee may have been something else -- a harsh communication sent to PSU in response to an unprofessional letter sent by Special Assistant for Government Affairs, Michael DiRaimo.
It was an unimpressive list of "sweeping changes" to the board, such as reducing the size of the board from 32 to 30 members, removing the Governor and President as voting members, and establishment of new committees (that could be likened to rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic).
The administration also made the case that the Senators were unfairly singling out Penn State for reform, but not making similar reforms at Lincoln University, Pittsburgh, and Temple. That would be a fair argument -- if those school's Boards had inflicted the same kind the damage on their Universities. But they didn't.
The list of "accomplishments" provided by DiRaimo was very hard to read with a straight face, as most were insignificant changes to rules that wouldn't affect how the Board currently operates.
However, where the letter really went off the rails was its inclusion of a link to an op-ed written by the Collegian that DiRaimo characterized as the students taking a position against reform because "it deflects attention away from the things that matter most to their education."
I have posted that op-ed below. It was nothing more than an attack on Penn State football fans, the alumni group, PS4RS, and the Senators, with no serious discussion of the issues affecting students.
DiRaimo's decision to include that op-ed reflects highly questionable judgment on his part. But that's just the tip of the iceberg.
Where is President Barron?I found it curious that the letter to the Senate Committee was signed by Michael DiRaimo, but it was not co-signed by President Barron and/or the Chair of the Board of Trustees.
Nor was there any specific mention that President Barron or the Board Chair had endorsed DiRaimo's position . However, that does not rule out that someone on the BOT may have persuaded DiRaimo to write the letter without the knowledge of the rest of the Board. Perhaps this is just another shining example of the BOT's lack of openness and transparency?
At the end of the day, DiRaimo's letter confirmed that the leadership void that occurred after the ouster of Graham Spanier has continued through the Erickson administration and that President Barron has not yet stepped up and taken charge at PSU.
President Barron's reaction to this letter will be an early indication of how (or IF) he will lead the University.