Saturday, September 20, 2014

Deb Beidel's Presentation for the Board of Trustees, September 19 2014

Thanks to all of who took the time to write to me regarding your concerns about the number of alumni trustees and the issue of a PSAA presence on the BOT. There was mention in the governance subcommittee yesterday about an "organized effort" to keep PSAA from having a seat - I guess that was us. I was able to speak during that meeting and did use that stack of papers effectively. There is still a chance to keep the board from getting bigger and save our representation. Stay tuned
The public comment period at the main meeting was totally controlled by filling seats with non-governance topics. It was, to say the least, a cheerleading session. But here is what I would have said if I could have said it:
I am one very loyal and proud Alumna. In early November 2011, I fired off one or two angry emails. So I apologize for any incivility on my part.
I address my next remarks only to the trustees present in November 2011. It is 2014 and we have not forgotten. Nor should we. The approach to this entire incident isreminiscent of what business always does when there is a public relations crisis. Lawyers gather, there is a settlement, and as one drug company announced: without admitting guilt or innocence, we agreed to the settlement because it's in the best interest of the company and current shareholders
But there was a gross miscalculation - alumni are not shareholders. Our concerns are not about money or profit. Perhaps one reason for our unbridled passion is that we are one of the few universities where alumni elect trustees. Alumni who cannot afford to endow chairs or have buildings named for them, or perhaps make any financial contribution, still have a voice at Penn State. You see, we are stakeholders, not shareholders.
To all the trustees not part of these original decisions, thank you for agreeing to serve Penn State. Please understand that anger and incivility arise when legitimate pleas are ignored. These are emails and letters recently written by alumni to the board and the administration. Each one from a different person who took the time to write. No one is rioting or causing destruction. They are simply asking to be heard. Yet, every previous attempt has been rebuffed or undermined.
We are told that we might never know the truth. No one can compromise on truth and maintain their integrity. Certainly, there are many perspectives and views - but there is only one truth. Perhaps we will not find all the answers. But does that mean we quit looking? Does that mean we give up and instead accept the half-truths, obfuscation and falsehoods that characterized the Freeh report?
I do know one truth. "When we stood at childhood's gate" - Penn State taught us not just facts, but Honor, Integrity, Loyalty, and Justice. You are the University trustees - persons appointed to administer the affairs of an institution. What greater affair could there be than repudiating these falsehoods and restoring Penn State's integrity? For many alumni, there is no moving on until this is made right.
To quote Martin Luther King
On some positions, Cowardice asks the question Is it safe? Expediency asks the question Is it politic? And Vanity asks the question Is it popular? But Conscience asks the question Is it right? And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but he must do it because Conscience tells him it is right.
Now is that time. Please listen to Conscience. Please make this right. For all of us.

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