The vacancy occurred Thursday night upon the resignation of Steve Garban, who led the board during the early days of the Jerry Sandusky child-sex-abuse scandal.
Garban, 74, was one of the few trustees singled out last week in a scathing investigative report released by former FBI Director Louis Freeh.
On Friday, Penn Staters for Responsible Stewardship (PS4RS) called Garban's departure "a positive but symbolic step" in fixing massive problems related to the administrative oversight of the school. The group reiterated its demand that the entire board resign.
"It's important to recognize that Freeh didn't single out just Garban for gross negligence and lack of oversight," group spokeswoman Maribeth Roman Schmidt said in an e-mail. "The report called out the entire board of trustees."
According to Freeh's report, Garban was one of the few trustees aware in October that Sandusky and two university administrators faced imminent indictment. However, he did not inform his fellow board members, many of whom found out about the arrests through media reports nearly a month later.
Former university president Graham B. Spanier and ex-general counsel Cynthia Baldwin, also criticized for not fully keeping the board informed, told Freeh's investigators that they had told Garban, thinking that he would pass along the news to other trustees, the report said.
Garban did not return calls for comment on Friday. Several other trustees declined to comment, but said privately that they had no plans to resign.
Board bylaws state that vacancies created by death or resignation may be filled by appointment of the board chair. Schmidt said the PS4RS alumni group expects board Chairwoman Karen Peetz to name Doran.
"Barbara is eminently qualified, was endorsed by PS4RS and was the next-highest vote getter," Schmidt said. "She is the natural appointee."
In recent days, the school has been engulfed in controversy over the fate of the campus statue of legendary former football coach Joe Paterno, who was found in the Freeh report to have covered up the sexual abuse of children by Sandusky, his former defensive coordinator.
Sandusky is awaiting sentencing after being convicted last month of 45 counts of child abuse.
On Friday, NFL Network reporter Kimberly Jones and veteran sportscaster Bonnie Bernstein both posted on Twitter that the statue would be taken down this weekend. But trustees' spokesman David La Torre said he was unaware of any such decision, and two trustees denied to other news organizations that the board had decided the matter.
Garban had been associated with Penn State for decades as a student, university vice president, and board member. He was captain of the 1958 Penn State football team, when Paterno was an assistant coach. The two remained close afterward.
In 2003, as the football team suffered losing seasons, a call arose for Paterno to step down. Garban, among a few, insisted that such talk was ridiculous.
"I think we all get a little too carried away once in a while with what it's all about," he told The Inquirer at the time. "I'm much more impressed with the values of our program - bringing in kids who graduate. I don't get too wrapped up in wins and losses. Joe has been a marvelous asset to this institution. How people can get down on the program or on him is a little beyond me. I get annoyed at it."
He said then that the board would play no role in deciding Paterno's future.
"We don't get involved in athletic matters," Garban said. "I've seen some universities get in trouble that way."
It was, of course, the board, with Garban as chairman, who fired Paterno in November, provoking some Penn State students to riot.
Doran is a Penn State graduate who received her bachelor's degree in liberal arts in 1975. She also graduated from Harvard Business School. Before joining Morgan Stanley, where she specializes in equity and hedge-fund investing, she was a research-investment officer at Neuberger Berman, an asset-management firm.
Doran said on Friday that no one from the board had contacted her about a potential appointment.
She said that Garban's departure was "an important start" and that more resignations should follow as the board implements reforms aimed at greater transparency and enhanced protection of children at its facilities.
At the same time, Doran said that she believed "the Freeh report has serious flaws in its reporting and conclusions," and that the school was limited in its ability to respond because of a pending NCAA investigation.
Contact staff writer Jeff Gammage at 215-854-2415, email@example.com, or on Twitter @JeffGammage.