New trustees seek to help Penn State heal

By Genaro C. Armas

Associated Press

Published: Sunday, July 8 2012 12:00 a.m. MDT

"I have a moral obligation for me to speak out if it's in the best interest of Penn State for me to do that," he said. "And I'm certainly not going to be managed by other trustees in my quest for openness and transparency, but I certainly look forward to working with the other trustees to accomplish that objective."

McCombie and Taliaferro declined to answer questions about recent leaked emails from ousted school President Graham Spanier and Athletic Director Tim Curley reportedly related to the handling of the 2001 allegation. Curley and former Vice President Gary Schultz are charged with perjury and failure to report suspected child abuse; Spanier is not charged.

Board Chairwoman Karen Peetz had asked trustees to refrain from commenting about the emails, and McCombie and Taliaferro each said they wanted to wait for more information to be released before offering their opinions.

Lubrano appeared to be the only trustee to release a statement after a CNN report last week referring to an excerpt from an email in which Curley indicated he changed his mind about going to child welfare authorities after speaking with Paterno.

The excerpt suggests the longtime coach took a more active role in the decision than what he described; Paterno issued a statement in December that said he reported the McQueary complaint to Curley, and "that was the last time the matter was brought to my attention."

In response to the CNN report, Lubrano said he was disappointed by the leaks and asked people to refrain from making judgments until more information was released.

The new trustees went through orientation last month. Like the other new trustees, Lubrano has been busy reaching out to other board members to get acclimated, including several conversations with Peetz.

"I know they all want what's best for Penn State; I really believe that," he said, but added, "Penn State was used to doing things a certain way for so long, that maybe they need a guy like me to nudge them a little bit to think outside the box."

All three new trustees said the Freeh report, which is expected to be completed this summer, will be released publicly with no advance look afforded to the board, echoing earlier statements by the university.

Like his counterparts, McCombie has been busy getting acclimated with his new responsibilities, which he equated to a full-time job.

"It's all I expected and much, much more," he said about life as a trustee. "And there's still a lot unknowns, and the board still has a lot unknowns."

The board will also have a fourth new trustee, Donald Cotner, who was elected by representatives of state agricultural organizations. Cotner, the president of an egg production and packaging business in Montour County, focused primarily on farm issues in his election campaign but also made reference to the scandal when he said in his position statement that "it should be the highest priority to create a culture of transparency at Penn State."

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