O’NeillFollowing up on an anonymous tip we received last December, Checks and Balances Project took a harder look at the role that Dr. Ann C. Crouter, dean of Penn State’s College of Health and Human Services, may have played in Professor John O’Neill ascending to director of the School of Hospitality Management (SHM).

Our reporting has found that, in selecting Professor O’Neill as director, Dean Crouter likely ignored Penn State’s clearly-defined search procedures and circumvented a search committee convened to find the best candidate.

After finding strong evidence that Professor O’Neill possibly violated at least three PSU ethics policies, we wrote Dean Crouter November 22, 2016, to ask if she approved his use of PSU resources to operate a private consulting firm on the University’s campus.

We never received a reply from Dean Crouter. But our questions have spurred PSU’s Conflict of Interest (COI) Office to explore Professor O’Neill’s potential ethics violations.

We sent Dean Crouter another letter on February 23 seeking clarity about the role she played in naming O’Neill as director and the oversight she exercised during his controversial tenure, which was rife with apparent personal and professional conflicts of interest.

Our questions to the dean include:

  1. Was an advisory search committee convened in 2010 to find a new director for SHM? If not, why?
  2. If an advisory search committee was convened, did it participate in the determination of Professor O’Neill’s candidacy and did the committee interview him for the position?
  3. In appointing Professor O’Neill, can you detail specific affirmative action efforts made or considered during the selection process as determined by the Affirmative Action Office?

You can read the entire letter here.

We called Dean Crouter’s office for comment on the letter. Although we have not heard back from her, we will update our readers when we do.

As the Conflict of Interest office continues its examination of Professor O’Neill, we will continue to report on new concerns about his actions as SHM director. We hope Dean Crouter, or someone from Penn State, will answer our reasonable questions and provide our readers and the University community with confidence that PSU abides by the high ethics standards it proclaims.


Evlondo Cooper is a senior fellow with Checks and Balances Project, a national watchdog blog that seeks to hold government officials, lobbyists, and corporate management accountable to the public. Funding for C&BP comes from sustainable economy philanthropies and donors.


You Might Also Want to Read:

Questions About Penn State Professor O’Neill Referred to Ethics Office

Hotel Lobby Proposes $1.25 Billion Tax on Home Sharers

Hotel Lobby President Kathy Lugar Refuses to Discuss Model Legislation to Tax Home Sharers