"We appreciate very much the leadership John Surma provided during his tenure on the Board," noted Penn State President Rodney Erickson on the university's website. "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."
"Our community owes a significant debt of gratitude to John Surma and his family," Keith Masser, Board of Trustees chairman, said. also on the university's website. "His years of service to this University and our students is a source of inspiration and pride. We thank him for his sacrifice and celebrate his unwavering commitment to Penn State. I am proud to have served with him on the Board of Trustees."
After the board voted unanimously to fire head football coach Joe Paterno in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal, Surma is the one who called Paterno to tell him the news that he was being let go after 46 seasons.
Surma made the phone call on November 9, 2011. Paterno died two months later.