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Faculty nixes no-confidence vote in Penn St. board

Penn State faculty members on Tuesday rejected a vote of no-confidence in the university's trustees, a symbolic measure that had sought to chastise the board for its handling of a child sex abuse scandal.

A motion calling for a special committee to investigate the trustees' oversight also failed to garner sufficient support from the Faculty Senate, which met at the university's main campus in State College.

The 32-member board of trustees has come under fire for its response to molestation allegations against a former assistant coach. The scandal that surfaced last fall led to the firings of the university president and longtime football coach Joe Paterno.

Supporters said a no-confidence vote would send a message to university leaders and stress the need for new governance. Opponents said that creating an adversarial relationship with trustees would undermine the faculty's ability to influence change from within.

"Several of us have tried to work as individuals with the board, and that seems a more fruitful path," Tramble Turner, an English professor at Penn State-Abington, said after the measure failed, 128-58.

The trustees elected new leadership from within their ranks on Friday. New board President Karen Peetz has promised reforms and more transparency in response to criticism that trustees have been too secretive.

Trustees are also undertaking their own probe into the case, led by former FBI director Louis Freeh. On Tuesday, some faculty questioned how impartial the probe will be since board members sit on the investigatory committee.

Still, faculty members voted 131-68 to reject a motion calling for the creation of a separate committee to investigate trustees' oversight.

The Senate represents more than 5,500 full-time faculty at 23 Penn State campuses.

A plan for trustees and faculty to meet Tuesday was postponed because of Paterno's recent death.

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