John Surma, the Penn State Board of Trustees member who fired former Penn State head coach Joe Paterno over the phone in November 2011, will leave the board of trustees at the end of his term.
According to Penn State's official news website, Penn State Live, Surma informed the board of his decision in December, citing new and continuing business commitments as the reasoning behind the decision. Surma is the chairman and CEO of U.S. Steel and has served two terms on Penn State's Board of Trustees.
“We appreciate very much the leadership John Surma provided during his tenure on the Board,” Penn State President Rodney Erickson was quoted by Penn State Live. “His expertise and talents were particularly helpful as the inaugural chair of the Board’s Subcommittee on Finance and exhibited throughout other key leadership positions. We are fortunate to have someone of John’s caliber who was willing to take the time and commitment required to serve his alma mater as a trustee and in many other ways.”
In November 2011, as the details of the Jerry Sandusky child abuse scandal was capturing headlines around the nation and rocking the State College community, the board of trustees made the decisions to remove president Graham Spanier from his office, in addition to removing Paterno as head coach of the football program. The decisions were effective immediately just days after the release of the grand jury presentment linked Spanier and Paterno to the university's response to the Sandusky crimes. Sandusky now is serving what will effectively be a life sentence in prison following his conviction last year.
Paterno was handed an envelope with a phone number on November 9, 2011. Once he called the number he received word from Surma that his services were no longer needed at Penn State. Surma was the messenger but the board of trustees had voted unanimously to fire Paterno. The decision continues to be a hot topic of debate by some Penn State fans.
Surma's decision comes at a time when U.S. Steel is attempting to bounce back in the market. Trading for U.S. Steel bottomed out at $17.67 per share last June and recently reported a loss in the last quarterly report. U.S. Steel lost a reported $50 million. The steel company is focusing on renovating old plants and providing cleaner solutions for the environment around them. This week U.S. Steel showed off renovations at a plant in Clairton, Pennsylvania that takes coal and produces an essential ingredient to produce steel. The project was designed to enhance the production of steel while also cutting down on pollution.
Penn State is currently in the process of accepting nominations for the board of trustees.