Penn State reports progress in implementing Freeh recommendations

Centre (Pa.) Daily TimesNovember 29, 2012 

UNIVERSITY PARK — Penn State now has implemented more than half of the 119 recommendations that former FBI director Louis Freeh made to the university to improve its safety and governance in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky scandal.

The university announced the update on its website Wednesday.

The recommendations call for changes to policies and procedures, which are broken down into categories pertaining to areas such as the board of trustees, the athletic department, university police and compliance.

A total of 61 of the 119 recommendations are either complete or ongoing, according to the breakdown provided by the university.

“We continue to make great progress in assessing and implementing the Freeh report recommendations,” said Penn State President Rodney Erickson said in a statement. “I’m pleased with the strong collaboration that has been demonstrated across all of our departments and proud that in just four months, we have been able to complete half of the recommendations.”

In the past month, Penn State’s senior leaders and the 32 people on its board of trustees sat through a seminar on the reporting guidelines for the Clery Act, a federal law that says universities have to report certain crimes that happen on campus. The U.S. Department of Education is reviewing whether Penn State violated the Clery Act, and Erickson has said he expects the findings to show there were deficiencies in reporting at the university before November 2011.

Human resources representatives around Penn State have also been told they now report to the head of their unit as well as the vice president for human resources. In addition, reports of criminal behavior from students and employees are being reported to higher authorities — the Office of Student Conduct for students and the Office of Human Resources for employees.

The university also reported its police department is on track to be accredited by January 2014. Accreditation was one of the recommendations.

One of the remaining Freeh recommendations is evaluating the control of the university president. That was also one of the criticisms from state Auditor General Jack Wagner, who in a report earlier this month, said the post at Penn State wields too much power.

During a work session at the board of trustees meeting two weeks ago, Chairwoman Karen Peetz said her fellow trustees will look over the recommendations from Wagner at a retreat in January.

In the update posted Wednesday, the university said trustee leaders have reviewed the scope of the president’s control and are comparing it with the scope of presidential powers at other universities.

The university is still in the process of hiring a chief compliance officer. In last month’s report, the university said the process was nearing completion and three finalists were being interviewed. In this month’s report, the process is still ongoing, and a university spokesman said the process is taking longer than officials thought it would.

Among the recommendations the university is still working on implementing is a policy that provides for the independence of university police in conducting investigations and other police actions.

In addition, university police officers will be trained in December on recognizing signs of child sex abuse.

Many of the athletics recommendations had already been completed, but one of the updates was that athletics employees are being given opportunities to participate in management training programs across the university.

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