BNY Mellon's Karen Peetz Elected Chair of Penn State Board

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Karen Peetz told American Banker last year that she would like to be chief executive of a bank some day.

An arguably harder job found her Friday.

The trustees of Penn State University have elected Peetz — the vice chairman of Bank of New York Mellon and an alum of the school — chairman of the university's board.

Penn State has been embroiled in a child sex abuse scandal that, among other things, prompted the resignation of its president, Graham Spanier, and the firing of legendary football coach Joe Paterno. A former assistant football coach, Jerry Sandusky, was charged in connection with more than 40 counts of sexual abuse of young boys that spanned more than a decade.

In addition to the election of Peetz, the board named Keith E. Masser the vice chairman. He is president of the Sterman Masser Inc. family farm in Sacramento, Pa. Peetz and Masser succeed Steve A. Garban and John P. Surma, who decided not to run again after taking criticism of their handling of the Sandusky scandal, according to news reports.

"All of us, including the board, with the wisdom of hindsight could have done things differently," Peetz said, according to the report.

Peetz also said Friday she would meet in town-hall meetings with faculty, who are set to vote Tuesday on whether they have confidence in the board, Dow Jones Newswires reported. "The board will increase our own transparency," she said. The board's biggest regret was firing Mr. Paterno over the phone, she said, according to Dow Jones.

Paterno died Sunday, at age 85, of lung cancer.

Peetz, who was No. 1 on American Banker's Most Powerful Women in Banking list in 2011, oversees Bank of New York Mellon's financial markets and treasury services group.

"She generates roughly half of BNY Mellon's pretax income," her profile said. "She manages a third of its 52,000 employees in 115 cities around the globe. She is the first female vice chairman in the company's 227-year history. She started, and still leads, the bank's wildly successful women's network."

Peetz said in that article that she would like to be the CEO of a major financial institution but realized that timing would be a challenge since she is in mid-fifties.

"You've got to get clear on what your goals are and how important are they to you," Peetz told American Banker in that article. "You have to go for it. No one comes in with a silver platter."

Peetz is a member of Bank of New York Mellon's executive committee; chair of the company's Women's Initiatives Network, which is devoted to advancement of women who work at the bank; and serves on the company's diversity council, a Penn State release said.

Peetz spent 16 years with JPMorgan Chase & Co. and is chair of the United Way of New York City. She received her bachelor of science degree from Penn State and master of science degree from Johns Hopkins University.

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