Monday, June 15, 2015

Keith Masser's and Joel Myers' letters (Centre Daily Times) exhibit pure desperation

To: State Senator Yudichak, Penn State alumni networking
cc: Penn State Trustees

Keith Masser’s and Joel Myers’ letters to the Centre Daily Times (and Masser’s letter to the Times-Tribune) exhibit nothing more than the desperation of cornered rats with regard to State Senator Yudichak’s legislation to restructure the Board of Trustees. This is my assessment from an organizational behavior and organizational psychology perspective.

The Board’s “leaders” have largely remained silent and unresponsive for the past years in the mistaken hope, as expressed by ex-Trustee Karen Peetz, that the Penn State community would exhaust itself through its efforts to defend the University from the Board’s controlling majority, and “move on.” The fact that Masser and Myers chose suddenly to break cover is evidence of sheer panic because their letters give the Penn State community very easy targets with which to discredit the Board even further, if such is possible. As Winston Churchill said of nuclear weapons, you can make the rubble bounce only so many times, but Myers’ and Masser’s letters provide opportunities to make the rubble of the Masser-controlled Board’s credibility bounce particularly high. I encourage fellow alumni to write responses to these newspapers, and in others, accordingly.

Let’s start with Dr. Myers, whose eagerness to ingratiate himself with the Board’s controlling majority has done little more than to remind everybody that the alumni fired him for cause in 2014. (See for example Even worse, Keith Masser’s and Kenneth Frazier’s depositions in the Corman-NCAA lawsuit show that Myers, like his colleagues, not only scapegoated Coach Paterno but then lied about the circumstances. This lie may well have helped set the stage for the NCAA sanctions, even though Karen Peetz’s violation of the Board’s Expectations of Membership was the proximate cause. Here is what Myers says.

“State Sen. John Yudichak’s purpose in introducing legislation to restructure the Penn State board of trustees should be obvious to everyone.”

“It is intended to give the General Assembly much more control over the university without supplying any more money.” [No, Joel, it is intended to take control away from so-called Trustees who treated the University as their private country club and networking society rather than as a responsibility.]

“Such a move might harm the university and ultimately the value and quality of education it provides in many ways by interjecting politics and legislators onto the board.” [Even if this were true, which I doubt, it is better than the “Ped State” label Joel Myers and his buddies helped slap on the University in 2011.]

“Importantly, one might ask why he has targeted Penn State but not Pitt, Temple and Lincoln, the other state-related universities, which actually get more dollars per student from the state than Penn State.” [Let me help you with this, Joel. The Trustees of Pitt, Temple, and Lincoln were not incompetent (11/09/2011), derelict in their fiduciary duty to oppose the NCAA sanctions (opinion of the Commonwealth Court, 4/09/2014), and flat-out dishonest as proven by Masser’s and Frazier’s depositions in the Corman-NCAA lawsuit.]

The Board of which both Mr. Masser and Mr. Myers were members in March 2012 issued an official public statement that the Board unanimously fired Coach Paterno for “failure of leadership.” Masser and Frazier had to testify when under oath, however, that the Board fired Paterno for public relations reasons. Masser said explicitly that he was not fired for anything he had or had not done, which means he was not fired for “failure of leadership.” This means every Trustee involved, including Myers and Masser, fell short of the standard of integrity the U.S. Military Academy demands of its cadets. Even if they did not personally author the falsehood in question, I direct their attention to the phrase “tolerate those who do.” If you’re part of a group that tells a lie of this nature, and you don’t dissociate yourself from it as Al Clemens did, you are a liar just like the actual spokesperson.

Now let’s see how Keith Masser yet again reminds the Commonwealth of why Penn State needs a massive governance overhaul:

“The CDT recently ran an editorial from another newspaper questioning board governance of PSU. We’d like to set the record straight.”

“The Penn State board of trustees devoted well over a year on a series of reforms, working with a nationally recognized governance expert, conducted benchmarking, and deliberated on various changes to our governance structure. The board overwhelmingly approved a new structure that will make Penn State better.”

“We know this because the university recently received an Aa2 rating from Moody’s Investor Services with a positive outlook, citing Penn State’s strengthened governance, management practices and risk management procedures. The report follows a similarly strong AA rating by Standard & Poor’s, and the Middle States Commission on Higher Education found Penn State met all 10 of its accreditation requirements.” [The recent tuition increases, which would probably not have been necessary had not Mr. Masser and his friends not squandered $6.5 million on Louis Freeh’s “investigation,” $60 million on illegitimate sanctions, and even more money on payouts to Sandusky victims for whose injuries Penn State was not responsible, doubtlessly helped Penn State keep its high rating.]

“Since 2011, the board has expanded its committees and opened those meetings to the community. We added permanent seats for the Penn State Alumni Association, a faculty member and a member of the student body. With a 10th seat on the board devoted to alumni, no university in Pennsylvania or the Big Ten provides its alumni with more direct input into its governance.” [The 10th seat belongs to the Penn State Alumni Association, which has repeatedly proven itself a shill for Mr. Masser and his associates.]

“We now have a board structure in place that includes constituencies from business and industry, agriculture, and government. The creation of additional at-large positions ensures the board can identify and recruit candidates with skillsets that may not necessarily fit into traditional constituencies. Perhaps most important, this healthy makeup ensures no single group can control the agenda and requires real consensus building to reach a majority.”

Mr. Masser saved the biggest lie for last, and he did not even have the courtesy to tell a halfway believable lie. The entire Penn State community knows that Masser and his cohorts have controlled the agenda for the past 3.5 years, and to the extent of sabotaging Penn State’s well-being to cover up their own mistakes and dishonesty. In case Mr. Masser has forgotten, and I will remind my fellow alumni as well,

Regrettably, as a result of Chairman Keith Masser’s unprecedented move to prevent a quorum from being present, you are not able to vote on the resolution. Separate from the merits of the resolution, which I fully support, the egregious actions of Chairman Masser point to a disturbing trend by the board majority to contravene the spirit of University bylaws and to stubbornly ignore long-standing state laws that prescribe membership on the Penn State Board of Trustees.

As you well know, Senator Corman and I have worked diligently to forge a compromise on board governance reform through Senate Bill 1240 and subsequent efforts. The thrust of our reform efforts center on creating a smaller, more engaged board of trustees that reflects the vast majority of most major public research universities in the United States. Chairman Masser has rebuffed our legislative efforts in favor of a reform proposal that suits only the narrow agenda of his current majority by increasing the size of the board to 38 members.

Ironically, when questioned why the full Board of Trustees was not informed about the NCAA consent decree former President Rod Erickson noted, under oath, that the 32 member board was too large to gather for such a discussion. Mr. Erickson’s admission that he did not inform the full board about the most significant decision facing Penn State in its history – a decision that has cost the University over one hundred million dollars and its hard earned reputation — is an indictment of his weakness as President and an indictment of the structural deficiencies of the Penn State Board of Trustees. [So it is a matter of record that Rodney Erickson, as opposed to Graham Spanier and Joe Paterno as alleged by the likes of Kenneth Frazier, concealed material information from the Board at a cost of over $60 million to Penn State.]

Furthermore, the lack of disclosure before the full Board of Trustees is clear evidence that the consent decree should be legally challenged by the University. The alumni trustees are justified in calling for the passage of a resolution that compels the University to join the worthy cause being led by Senator Corman and Treasure McCord that challenges the validity of the NCAA actions against Penn State University.

State Senator Yudichak also said, and quite accurately, that the Board as led by Mr. Masser was putting personal agendas ahead of a Penn State agenda.

The takeaway is, however, that Masser’s and Myers’ letters exhibit outright panic on the part of the Board, especially the Business & Industry and Agriculture members whose positions Yudichak’s legislation would rightly eliminate. Both letters are so full of holes, half-truths, and similar vulnerabilities that it is clear that these factions have reached the end of their rope, and are now lashing out in pure desperation. I accordingly urge the Penn State community to exploit this panic in letters to the editor, social media, and all other available communication channels to help Senator Yudichak pass his legislation, and put Penn State into the hands of Trustees who understand that “Trustee” means “responsibility” and not “country club member.”

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