UNIVERSITY PARK - The Penn State Board of Trustees appointed a committee to select the next university president, approved an athletic code of conduct and learned the university's accreditation is solid on Friday.
A committee of 12 trustees including board President Karen Peetz will conduct a search for a successor to university President Rodney Erickson, who plans to retire on June 30, 2014, or earlier if a replacement is found. Community members will be named by early January to be included in the search process, she said.
Erickson has served as president since Graham Spanier, who headed the university for 16 years, was forced out in the wake of former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky's arrest last November.
Trustees also said they'll weigh Auditor General Jack Wagner's recommendations regarding changes to the university board, including the removal of the university president as a voting trustee.
Wagner, who will leave office at the end of the year, issued his report on Wednesday.
In addition, the board received word from Erickson that the Middle States Commission on Higher Education has verified that Penn State is in full compliance with all of its requirements. This lifts a warning the commission issued to Penn State on Aug. 8 based on the fallout from the Sandusky child molestation scandal. Sandusky was sentenced to 30 to 60 years in state prison for sexually assaulting 10 boys over 15 years.
"Their report unequivocally stated that Penn State meets all quality standards for accreditation, and it also acknowledged the university's resilience, fiscal stability and rapid change in the face of numerous challenges."
In other action related to fallout from the Sandusky scandal, trustees approved an athletics code of conduct that pulls together policies and procedures long practiced at Penn State. Adoption of the code was one of the requirements of a consent decree with the NCAA that Erickson agreed to last summer.
Based on a report compiled by former FBI director Louis Freeh, the NCAA penalized Penn State with a four-year bowl ban, a reduction in football scholarships and a $60 million fine for the university's handling of the Sandusky case prior to his arrest.
The Freeh report and the NCAA sanctions continue to be a sore spot for some in the Penn State community.
Alumni represented at Friday's meeting voiced continued disapproval of the board's actions including firing football Coach Joe Paterno without proof that he was involved in a cover-up and for backing Erickson's acceptance of NCAA sanctions and the Freeh investigation, which condemned Penn State's culture as a factor in the scandal.
Erickson has said he faced a difficult "take-it-or-leave-it" proposition after the NCAA discussed shutting down the football program.
Three trustees emphasized that passing a code of conduct didn't equate to the board officially giving its approval to the NCAA sanctions. Trustees Anthony Lubrano and Ryan McCombie, who joined the board this summer, and veteran trustee Joel Myers praised the code of conduct but said it was important to make a distinction.
"We just wanted to be clear that accepting the resolution was in no way an acknowledgment of our acceptance of the consent decree agreement," Lubrano said. "We never ratified that."
Barring the new board members, alumni condemned the board.
"I am disgusted and ashamed at the politically driven, media-pressured responses," said Phil Shultes, a 1990 Penn State College of Medicine graduate from Queensbury, N.Y. Shultes urged alumni to contact high school guidance counselors to discourage Penn State enrollment.
"I think it's irresponsible to allow students to continue to enroll given the current leadership," he said.
Peetz said she was "extremely disappointed" by the comment and said she looks forward to the presidential search.
"I would have expected that alumni would get behind the university at the time we need them the most."
A new athletic director is to coincide with Erickson's departure. Interim Athletic Director David Joyner may be considered, Peetz said. The board's standing orders state administrative positions are appointed by the president with board approval.
Athletic Director Tim Curley and retired Vice President Gary Schultz were charged last year with crimes related to covering up reports of Sandusky showering with children in a Penn State locker room. Then-president Graham Spanier was charged earlier this month.
Mirror Staff Writer Russ O'Reilly is at 946-7435. The Associated Press contributed to this report.