Shining light on Penn State’s foibles

Posted: December 13, 2022 by chrisharper in education
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By Christopher Harper

It’s difficult to find a journalistic enterprise that is worth supporting.

I just found one: PA Spotlight’s bureau in State College, the home of Penn State University.

After nearly 20 years at a public university, I saw many examples of waste, mismanagement, and potential fraud.

It’s rare to see the emphasis of a journalistic organization on a public university like Penn State, even though colleges employ thousands of people and allegedly educate thousands more in the ways of the world. For example, Penn State has a massive $7 billion annual budget.

Here are some of PA Spotlight’s most recent headlines about Penn State:

–Penn State’s Board of Trustees spent nearly $318,000 on its past six in-person meetings, covering travel, lodging, food, and other expenses of attendees, according to newly released records.

–Unlike nearly all of its Big Ten counterparts, Penn State does not have to publicly disclose the salaries of its employees, which include $7 million to head football coach James Franklin. Penn State’s special status as a state-related university makes it largely exempt from Pennsylvania’s open records law.

–Given the university’s budget shortfall, hiring freeze, and recent tuition increase, Spotlight PA tracked the use of its jet, discovering that it flew 44 times in one month. The university declined the provide the cost of maintaining and using the plane.

The Spotlight PA team also provided one of the most extensive profiles of Neeli Bendapudi, the new president who took over last year. See

The profile included a subtle analysis of a woman born in India, educated in Kansas, a one-time banker, and a Republican who faced significant issues at her former post at the University of Louisville. She currently faces similar matters from the left-leaning faculty at Penn State.

The State College bureau is the first regional outpost outside Harrisburg, the state capital, and covers issues of interest to north-central Pennsylvania, where I live. The bureau includes four reports and a budget of $500,000 a year.

The reports are available through a free weekly newsletter and regional news organizations. See

I applaud the team’s effort so far and hope the organization will be around for some time to come!

  1. BLSinSC says:

    A REPUBLICAN?? College PRESIDENT?? How did THAT happen?? And isn’t it odd that a STATE “related” entity does not have to share financial info to TAXPAYERS?? Maybe they are just “related” and not “engaged”???