Two Newcomers, One Incumbent Win Election by Alumni to Penn State Board of Trustees –


Photo by Matt DiSanto | Onward State
Correction: Due to an error in a release from Penn State, a previous version of this story incorrectly stated the number of alumni who voted in the election. The correct number is 19,144, or 2.6% of eligible alumni.
The alumni-elected contingent on Penn State’s Board of Trustees will see a bit of a shakeup following the announcement of election results at Friday’s board meeting.
Barry Fenchak and Christa Hasenkopf will join the 36-member board for the first time, each winning a three-year term in the alumni election. Incumbent Ted Brown claimed the third seat up for election, winning a fourth term and earning the largest number of votes this year.
They outpaced three-term incumbents Barbara Doran and Bill Oldsey, who fell short of winning fourth and final terms, and Farnaz Farhi, Maribeth Roman Schmidt and Edward Smith .
Richard Sokolov and Naren Gursahaney also were elected for the first time as trustees representing business and industry. Valerie Detwiler and Abraham Harpster were reelected by delegates of agricultural societies and Tracy Riegel was elected by the board as an at-large trustee.
Alumni trustees
Ted Brown is a 1968 Penn State graduate and Pennsylvania Army National Guard veteran who had a 30-year career with IBM. He is now president of State College-based KETCHConsulting, a crisis management and disaster recovery planning firm. Brown, who was first elected to the board in 2013, ran his campaign on honoring Joe and Sue Paterno, lowering tuition and focusing on efforts to bolster diversity in university enrollment and staffing.
Barry Fenchak earned Penn State degrees in 1984 and 1991 from the colleges of engineering and business. A longtime chemical engineer, he is now a registered investment adviser with a practice based in State College. A diligent observer and frequent critic of the university governance for decades, Fenchak set out on his campaign with the hopes of bringing a “different approach” to the Board of Trustees.
Christa Hasenkopf is a first-generation college student who graduated from the Eberly College of Science in 2003. An atmospheric scientist who has worked for the U.S. Department of State, she cofounded the nonprofit OpenAQ and founded Airglow Labs, both of which are focused on air quality. She ran on the “Penn State Forward” campaign with Farhi and Smith, aiming to give a voice to younger Penn Staters.
About 2.6%, or 19,144, of the 726,886 eligible alumni voted in the election.
Brown, Fenchank and Hasenkopf join Alivin DeLevie, Anthony Lubrano, Jay Paterno, Alice Pope, Brandon Short and Steven Wagman as alumni-elected trustees.
Business and industry trustees
Richard Sokolov is a 1971 Penn State graduate and prominent benefactor of the university. He served as chair of the recent university fundraising campaign that raised $2.16 billion and has contributed numerous scholarships and endowments, including an $8.3 million gift endowing the Sokolov-Miller Family Financial and Life Skills Center. Sokolov is vice chairman of Simon Property Group, the largest owner of retail real estate in Pennsylvania, and is listed as an officer in the development group working to bring a casino to the Nittany Mall.
Naren Gursahaney is a 1983 Penn State graduate and former president and CEO of the ADT Corporation. He is currently chairman of Terminix Global Holdings. Gursahaney has created scholarships and excellence funds in the College of Engineering and the College of Information Sciences and Technology and provided support for the Student Veterans Center.
Sokolov and Gursahaney join Mark Dambly, Robert Fenza, Walter Rakowich and Mary Lee Schneider as business and industry trustees, which are nominated by a selection committee and confirmed by the full board
Agricultural society trustees
Valerie Detwiler, a 2006 graduate, is a senior vice president for Reliance Bank. She also owns and operates a machinery dealership in Martinsburg and a beef and crop farming operation in New Enterprise. Detwiler was first elected to the board by delegates of agricultural societies in 2016.
Abraham Harpster is a 1993 graduate and co-owner of Spruch Creek-based Evergreen Farms Inc., which operates the largest dairy farm in Pennsylvania. He is a member of multiple professional agricultural organizations and was first elected to the board by delegates from agricultural societies in 2013.
At-large trustee
Tracy Riegel, is a 1985 Penn State graduate, is a former project manager for the Vanguard Group investment management company and a longtime university volunteer and supporter. She is a member of the Penn State Brandywine Advisory Board and Development Committee, the Schreyer Honors College External Advisory Board, the Palmer Museum of Art Friends Leadership Council and the Chester County chapter of the Penn State Alumni Association.
A selection group recommends an at-large trustee candidate, who is then confirmed by the board.
Riegel joins Julia Anna Potts and current board chair Matthew Schuyler as at-large trustees.
New board members will begin their terms in July. The next Board of Trustees meeting is scheduled for July 20-22 at the Penn State York campus.
Gabe Angieri contributed to this story.
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