A historic election for the embattled Penn State Board of Trustees culminated with three new members being chosen - including a Cambria County native.
The board announced on Friday that retired Navy SEAL Ryan J. McCombie, a 1970 Penn State graduate who lives in State College but is from Northern Cambria, was elected to the board.
Adam J. Taliaferro, a lawyer and former football player who overcame a career-ending spinal cord injury, and Anthony P. Lubrano, founder of a financial services and wealth management firm based in Exton were also elected to the board.
The new trustees begin their three-year terms July 1.
Many of the voters were upset by the trustees' decision to dismiss legendary football coach Joe Paterno on Nov. 9, days after former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky was arrested for allegations that he sexually abused young boys on university property.
The board said they dismissed Paterno for a lack of leadership in reporting allegations against Sandusky when assistant coach Mike McQueary notified Paterno that he witnessed Sandusky and a boy in the team's locker room showers in 2002. Paterno fulfilled his legal obligation by relaying the accusations to his superiors, one of whom oversaw campus police.
Of the three board incumbents whose terms are expiring, only retired schoolteacher Anne Riley ran again, losing her re-election bid. Riley is one of the board's more well-known members and lives in State College.
Former newspaper editor David Jones has said he decided two years ago to limit his tenure on the board. The third incumbent, David Joyner, left the board because he is now the school's acting athletic director.
Nine trustees of the 32-member board are elected by university alumni. Three alumni trustees are elected each year for three year terms.
Paul Suhey, captain of Paterno's 1979 football team; Steve Garban, Director of Metropolitan Life Series Fund, N.Y.; and attorney Stephanie Deviney, elected in 2010, are alumni-elected members who were part of the decision to dismiss Paterno and are up for reelection next year.
Suhey and Garban, reelected to consecutive terms since 1998, told the Mirror they have not decided whether they would seek reelection in 2013, but Diviney, one of the more active trustees who asked questions Friday on topics including the university's budget and construction projects, said she would "Absolutely run again."
But whether alumni will retain interest for next year's election can't be predicted, she said.
McCombie believes alumni are "awake," and won't go back to sleep on the board's transparency and governance issues that include a board that is too large and does not adequately represent alumni.
"I hope there is more interest next year, and I expect that there will be," McCombie told the Mirror in a phone interview. "The alumni stood up and became alive. They aren't going to let this rest."
The 86 candidates for this year's election far overshadowed any race in the board's history that would typically feature as many as 15 candidates.
Alumni may eager to enact change on the board, and the impact their three new representatives have on the 32-member board may be significant.
"We'll be surprised with what one person can start," Lubrano said. "Hopefully we can bring a new enthusiasm and frank discussion so we can implement changes like openness and transparency and accountability. It really does drive me crazy because we preach openness and transparency, but we've done everything but that," Lubrano said, pointing to the election results as an example.
"They didn't post everyday for us the running total, yet they knew. This university was aware. Why not share that with us?"
"Those sort of little things that mean a lot. You take care of the little things, the big things will take care of themselves. That's a little thing and it gives an impression that you care what people think."
A bigger problem to Lubrano is the board's committee of trustees working with former FBI director, Louis Freeh, who is conducting an investigation for the university.
Although Lubrano said he needs more information before he draws hard conclusions, he doesn't believe the board's investigation led by Freeh, who must report to trustees because they hired him, is as independent from the board as the trustees report.
"From what I heard from folks who have been interviewed, the thrust of the investigation has been more toward coach Paterno and his influence and his control over not just football but athletics in general. I'm still concerned it's not an independent investigation."
Special investigation committee chairman Ken Frazier said Freeh has interviewed 400 university employees in academics, athletics and past and present trustees to find out how children could have been abused on university property and "who knew what, when," Frazier said.
Investigation results will be made public when completed in late August, Frazier said.
The state Attorney General is continuing investigation of incidents relating to the prosecution of Sandusky, former senior vice president for finance and business Gary Schultz and Athletic Director Tim Curley.
Curley is on administrative leave as he and Schultz battle charges that they lied to a grand jury about their oversight involving Sandusky's alleged crimes.
Cynthia Baldwin reported Friday that several university employees were subpoenaed by the Office of the Attorney General because of their positions they hold with the university. Eight of those employees will receive legal counsel paid under the university's insurance.
The more than 37,000 voters who cast ballots between the second week of April and May 3, represent about seven percent of the 557,331 Penn State alumni worldwide, the vast majority of them living in the United States.
It was the largest turnout for a trustee election since 1990, when 24,400 alumni voted. Fewer than 12,000 voted last year.
In addition to alumni trustees, the board includes five trustees serving in an ex officio capacity by virtue of their position within the university or the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Those trustees include Gov. Tom Corbett, who was present at the board meeting Friday.
The Governor appoints six trustees, six trustees are elected by organized agricultural societies within the Commonwealth. One new agricultural board member, Donald G. Cotner was elected to the board Friday.
Six trustees are elected by the Board of Trustees to represent business and industry. Edward Hintz Jr. and Ken Frazier were reelected by the board in that category.
Mirror Staff Writer Russ O'Reilly is at 946-7435. The Associated Press contributed to this report.