CDT Story - Br. John Mika '85 running for PSU BOT

Three more Penn State alumni eye board of trustees seat

Three more Penn State graduates have announced their plans to run for seats on the board of trustees, bringing the number of candidates to 22.

John J. Mika, a 1985 graduate in secondary education; Ryan Hall, a 2002 graduate in journalism; and Edward "E.J." Van Istendal, a 2002 graduate in media studies, are seeking seats. Three of the nine alumni seats are up for election this year.

Mika said he does not think trustees did a good job handling the university's crisis.

"There was a quick semi-secret reaction to the situation without waiting for due process of the law and a vote which did not represent the voice of the majority of Penn State alumni," Mika said in an email.

He said that if he's elected he will push for more openness.

A Tower City resident, Mika is a teacher with the federal Bureau of Prisons. While at Penn State, he played on the Schuylkill men's basketball team and was a member of the Theta Chi fraternity.

Hall and Van Istendal issued a joint news release announcing their plans to run for a seat on the board. They also say there is a need for transparency on the board.

"We love this university and could not stand idly by while it slipped from its position as one of the most respected educational institutions in the world," Hall said.

"There is a lot of anger right now, and too much has been yielded to the mob mentality that has taken root over recent events at Penn State," Van Istendal said. "We must endure, but it's obvious that new leadership is needed."

Hall is the night city editor and photo editor for the Great Falls Tribune in Great Falls, Mont., where he lives.

Van Istendal lives in Purcellville, Va., and is a federal police officer.

The two say that while they are "unconventional" candidates and not experienced as bureaucrats, that would help them as trustees.

"We need trustees who will examine the facts, communicate the board's feelings to the alumni, faculty and students — and hear from them — not ones who have knee-jerk reactions," they said in their release.

This year's trustees race continues to draw an unusual level of interest as alumni express a desire for change on the board. Many have criticized the board's handling of the Jerry Sandusky sex abuse scandal.

The names of trustees candidates who meet the qualifications to will be announced March 1. Ballots will be distributed to alumni electronically April 10 and must be submitted by May 3.

The winners will be announced at the trustees' meeting during graduation weekend.