I have no idea what’s going on here. I only know it means that spring has sprung.
Working in University House, our favorite reminder of the end of winter is the sign of newly hatched ducklings appearing suddenly, right outside our windows, around the Hintz Family Alumni Center pond. But a close second is the sign of students taking over the alumni center lawn. Once the weather’s warm enough—and we’re looking at perfect blue skies and a high of 68 today—the grounds surrounding Hintz become the setting for small study groups, lounging clusters of friends, and even entire classes relocated from nearby Willard or Sackett buildings.
And then, sometimes, we get students who we’re not quite sure what they’re doing.
This was the scene outside my office window earlier this morning. Experimental theater performance? Political statement? Caped calisthenics? Not a clue, but I do know that any sign of life emerging from another long, cold Happy Valley winter is a welcome one.
Ryan Jones, senior editor
Back in 2012, when a record 86 alumni were running for a seat on the Penn State Board of Trustees in the wake of the Sandusky scandal, we introduced a project designed to help voters sort through all those candidates. We patterned it after the voters’ guides that the League of Women Voters pioneered, and we called it “Three Questions for the Candidates.”
We’ve continued the project every year since then, even as the number of candidates has declined: 39 alumni running for a seat in 2013 and 31 last year. This year saw an even more dramatic drop, and in fact the race is essentially uncontested: Only three candidates are running for the three available alumni-elected seats.
We talked about it in-house, and decided that even with three unopposed candidates, the project is still worth doing. Alumni still need to know where their trustees, or potential trustees, stand on the issues. So we invited Anthony Lubrano, Ryan McCombie, and Robert Tribeck to answer this year’s three questions.
Tribeck sent us his answers, and you’ll see them on our site. McCombie responded that he wouldn’t be in a position to participate: “I am on travel until Easter Sunday with only my IPad to compose on and little thoughtful time,” he replied. “I don’t believe I will be able to frame these questions worthy of your publication and editor’s eye satisfactorily in time. I’m afraid you are going to do this without me this year. Sorry.” Lubrano didn’t respond at all.
Still, we’ve assembled the site, including not only Tribeck’s responses but also links to all three candidates’ bios and official position statements on the trustees’ website. Information on election dates and eligibility is on the site as well. We hope that you’ll check it out—and that you’ll vote.
Tina Hay, editor
When we wrote about Movin’ On in the latest edition of the magazine as one of our great spring traditions, negotiations were still underway for this year’s lineup. But we wait no longer, as the headliners were announced last week for the 40th annual student musical festival:
The key to drawing a crowd? “We make sure our lineup is incredibly diverse,” says senior Tara Bendler, the executive director of the event. “We understand how big Penn State is and we want to appeal to as many students as possible.” (And the fact that it’s ticketless and open to the public doesn’t hurt, either.)
“This is a wrap-up of the whole year and a thank-you to seniors as they move on and leave Penn State behind,” says Bendler. “That’s why we make sure it’s not just accessible, but more importantly just a great day of music.”
—Amy Downey, senior editor
State College may have dumped another five inches of snow on us last night, but we’re totally thinking spring here at The Penn Stater—just take a look at the sunny cover of our March/April issue. Don’t you feel better already?
The illustration by James Taylor (no, not that James Taylor) uses a mix of images from our all-time favorite warm-weather traditions at Penn State for the cover story, “Rites of Spring.” But look closely at the image: The British artist actually hand-cut these images and built them into a set, making it a 3-D collage of sorts. You can actually see the white floor—and a shadow or two—at the bottom of the page. Pretty cool.
Also in this issue is an exclusive Q&A with athletic director Sandy Barbour. Less than a year into her time here at Penn State, she sat down with senior editor Ryan Jones ’95 Com and opened up about Franklin, Paterno, and the NCAA, among other things.
Ryan was busy this issue, as he also penned a piece on alum, poet, and Penn State Brandywine prof Cameron Conaway ’07 Alt. Conaway’s poems on malaria, and mindfulness, are catching the attention of literature critics around the world.
Another highlight is a two-page story on the late Grace Holderman ’34 Edu by Vicki Glembocki ’93, ’03 MFA Lib. “Amazing Grace” was just that—and this performer spent a lifetime captivating audiences on and off the stage.
And if you haven’t already heard, Roger Williams ’73 Lib, ’75 MA Com, ’88 DEd Edu will soon retire from his longtime post as executive director of our alumni association. We get some parting words from him on page 23.
You’ll also find stories on the new Primanti’s in town, plus a recap of when State College resident Sarah Koenig spoke on campus about her smash hit podcast, Serial.
Look for it in your mailboxes soon!
Oh, and by the way—I’m a new senior editor here at The Penn Stater. Would love to hear from you, and especially if you have anything to say about the new issue. Drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or comment below.
—Amy Downey, senior editor
You might remember a feature in our July/August 2014 issue on Ryan McGarry ’05, a doctor-turned-documentary filmmaker whose debut, Code Black, was a festival hit. In our interviews with him, McGarry mentioned his hope of turning the documentary—focused on young doctors in a legendary Los Angeles emergency room—into a TV drama. Well, that hope is now awfully close to reality.
Last month, industry outlets reported that CBS had ordered a pilot for an hour-long scripted medical adaptation of Code Black, and that McGarry—who remains on faculty at New York’s Weill Cornell Medical College—will be one of the show’s producers. On Tuesday, it was reported that veteran actress Marcia Gay Harden will be one of the show’s leads. Per Deadline, the show, “like the documentary it was inspired by, are set in the busiest and most notorious ER in the nation—L.A. County Hospital—where the extraordinary staff confronts a broken system in order to protect their ideals and the patients who need them the most.”
Doctor, med-school instructor, and now a full-fledged Hollywood producer? Here’s hoping McGarry finds a hobby to keep himself occupied in his free time.
Ryan Jones, senior editor
Penn State president Eric Barron addressed the media for about 20 minutes this afternoon, talking about the agreement that repeals the NCAA’s sanctions against Penn State. Here are a few of his comments:
—”I’m pleased we can close this chapter,” he said, “and look ahead to the important challenges and opportunities that face Penn State.”
—In addressing “a few key details” of the agreement, he mentioned that the $60 million fine imposed on Penn State “remains in the state of Pennsylvania, first and foremost.” Of that, $48 million goes to the Commonwealth, and the other $12 million “will remain at Penn State, to create an endowment, which is a long-term investment in [programs] … to help eradicate child abuse.”
—Asked about the fate of the Paterno statue, and other calls for Penn State to honor Joe Paterno’s career, Barron said: “Those who know me know that I prefer not to talk about things that will be a topic of discussion [publicly] … before chatting with lots of people. [But] there will be a time and place.”
—Asked what becomes of the Big Ten sanctions, including the sharing of football bowl revenues, Barron pointed out that the Big Ten is a party to the Athletics Integrity Agreement that will be renegotiated under the terms of the settlement. “I will discuss it with my fellow presidents,” Barron said. “They’re expecting that discussion to occur.”
—Barron was asked if, with the 2012 consent decree now erased, this might be a good time for academia to take a fresh look at the NCAA and its powers. “Hindsight is a fascinating thing,” Barron began. “I’ve talked to many of my fellow presidents, and did so to my ACC representative when I was at Florida State, suggesting that the NCAA moved too quickly. At the same time, they came to their decisions with the best possible motive—of not wanting to have such things occur, and with the notion that they had a responsibility to look … at institutional control. I see little purpose in trying to fault them.”
—He was asked to talk about how much communication there was with the Board of Trustees in the negotiations with state officials and the NCAA. He wouldn’t say much, except that “I hear frequently from my trustees, and that’s a good thing … but negotiation of details is first and foremost with the attorneys. … Then, when you have a sense of what agreement is possible, that’s the best time to bring it to the board. Then they can make the best possible decision. And, as you can see, the vote was unanimous.” He added that the negotiations were going on “right up to that moment,” presumably meaning right up until the start of the trustees’ meeting this afternoon.
—Asked again about the Paterno statue, he said: “Same answer. [I’m a] boring guy. There’ll be a good time and place.”
—In November, President Barron said he was committed to personally reviewing the Freeh Report. At today’s news conference he said today’s events don’t change that plan. “I am very appreciative that we’ve hit a tremendous milestone today, and that’s what we’re going to focus on,” he said, “but I don’t think my responsibilities change.”
—Asked if he had a message for students who might be inclined to celebrate today’s news, he referred to the spontaneous—but peaceful—rally that took place when Penn State’s bowl eligibility was restored last fall. “Our students acted with a high level of enthusiasm but with a great deal of respect,” Barron said, “and although I think I told you I was always worried about such an activity, I was very pleased by their behavior. And I’m hoping from every inch of my body that I can be equally proud today. This is something to be very happy about; this is not something that should promote destructive behavior in any way, shape, or form.”
Tina Hay, editor
Keith Masser ’73 stuck to the script when he opened the Penn State Board of Trustees meeting today, saying he had some good news to report: that Penn State’s World Campus scored a No. 1 ranking in the U.S. News rankings of online programs.
But a few moments later, President Eric Barron took the podium and announced the day’s truly big news: that Penn State, the NCAA, and state officials had reached a tentative agreement to roll back the sanctions against Penn State in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky scandal. And not long after that, the trustees voted unanimously to approve the agreement.
The NCAA issued a news release spelling out the terms of the agreement, the major points being that (1) 112 vacated wins—111 belonging to Joe Paterno, and one to Tom Bradley ’78—are restored (or, to quote a tweet by Charles Thompson of the Harrisburg Patriot-News, “And move over Bobby Bowden!”), and (2) the $60 million in fine money stays in Pennsylvania.
But State Sen. Jake Corman ’93, in a Harrisburg news conference, was more blunt: “The consent decree is hereby repealed,” he said, and “all remaining sanctions against Penn State are voided.” You can read a news release from Corman’s office here.
The trustees’ vote on the settlement was quick, with no discussion or debate before the roll-call vote, and the vote was unanimous.
Trustee Anthony Lubrano, who invited reporters to an impromptu news conference in the hallway outside the meeting—while the meeting was still in progress, with President Barron giving a report—said that the agreement isn’t perfect, but is still a win overall.
A point of contention with some in the Penn State community had been the possibility that, in order to see a rollback of the sanctions, the university would have to acknowledge that the NCAA had the right to impose the sanctions in the first place. The wording of the agreement appears to be very carefully phrased in that regard; it says that “Penn State acknowledges the NCAA’s legitimate and good faith interest and concern regarding the Jerry Sandusky matter.”
The restoration of Paterno’s wins has already prompted calls to return the Paterno statue to its spot outside Beaver Stadium. Corman, asked about it at his news conference, said it’s a decision for Penn State to make, but added, “In my personal opinion,” it should be put back. Lubrano also called for the university to return the Paterno statue, suggesting Homecoming might be a good target date.
The Paterno family issued a statement calling today “a great victory for everyone who has fought for the truth in the Sandusky tragedy.” The advocacy group Penn Staters for Responsible Stewardship was less pleased, thanking Sen. Corman and state Treasurer Rob McCord but adding, “Unfortunately, we cannot support an agreement that does not require the NCAA to acknowledge its wrongdoing.”
Penn State has posted a news release about today’s settlement announcement, with comments from President Barron and Chair Masser. Barron, Masser, and attorney Frank Guadagnino ’78 will speak with the media after today’s meeting.
Tina Hay, editor