Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Trustees' Own Statement Proves Poor Stewardship

Are we the only ones who see something wrong with the fact that the Board fired and humiliated Joe Paterno (and also forced President Spanier to resign, although the buck arguably stops with him) the next day, before the indicated action was taken?

At its regular meeting on Friday, November 11, 2011, the Board will appoint a Special Committee, members of which are currently being identified, to undertake a full and complete investigation of the circumstances that gave rise to the Grand Jury Report. This Special Committee will be commissioned to determine what failures occurred, who is responsible and what measures are necessary to insure that this never happens at our University again and that those responsible are held fully accountable. The Special Committee will have whatever resources are necessary to thoroughly fulfill its charge, including independent counsel and investigative teams, and there will be no restrictions placed on its scope or activities. Upon the completion of this investigation, a complete report will be presented at a future public session of the Board of Trustees.

"Sentence first, verdict afterward" is suitable for a scene in Alice in Wonderland but not for responsible adults who are entrusted with the welfare of an institution like Penn State.

Note that there was obviously no determination whatsoever of what failures occurred or who was responsible before the Board (in our opinion) caved in to media pressure the following day. This should make an excellent management and business ethics case study, and we encourage management schools to adopt it as such. We may even cite it in our new book on management and leadership, which stresses the role of a leader as a steward and holder in trust (the Indo-European root dher, e.g. Dharma, Jemadar) of an organization's well-being.


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