Posts filed under ‘Joe Paterno’
I think I’m finally over my jet lag from five terrific days in Dublin, and just in time: There’s a home opener to be ready for.
The Nittany Lions’ meeting with Akron is notable for a few reasons, not least that it’s James Franklin’s home debut. But as both a 1995 grad and the guy who spent untold hours on the phone this past spring and summer with members of the ’94 Lions, I can tell you I’m almost as excited about the reunion of Penn State’s last undefeated team as I am about the game itself.
Alumni Association members by now should have their copies of our Sept./Oct. issue, which features that great shot of Ki-Jana Carter ’95 on the cover, and, inside, an oral history on that team’s epic comeback win at Illinois. While the magazine piece focuses on the Illinois game—well, really the whole trip to Champaign, a surreal experience that the players, coaches, and managers recount in the issue—it’s just an excerpt from our much larger oral history of the ’94 Lions, tracking that squad from raw recruits into arguably the greatest offensive team in college football history. I spoke to nearly 30 guys for that one, and it was very much a labor of love. If you haven’t already, you can find the entire piece over at The Football Letter Blog.
The reunion is well timed not only with the 20th anniversary of that team, but with the emergence of true sophomore Christian Hackenberg as one of the best quarterbacks in the nation. Hackenberg’s record performance against UCF in the season opener, following his terrific freshman season, has some people wondering (prematurely) how he ranks with the best QBs in program history. Well, the guy who tops that list, Kerry Collins ’94, is expected back this weekend, as are arguably—key word here—the best running back (Carter), receiver (Bobby Engram ’95), tight end (Kyle Brady ’95) and offensive line in school history. There are lots of worth guys in the argument at all those positions, but the fact that so many guys from that one team are in the discussion tells you just how phenomenal that team was.
For so many reasons, it’s impossible to compare this year’s team—still limited by sanctions, and with a brand new coaching staff—to Joe Paterno’s veteran, talent-laden ’94 squad. But based on some of the things I heard repeated time and time again by Carter, Collins, Engram, Brady and nearly everyone else I spoke to from the ’94 squad, there’s plenty that this year’s Lions would be well to mimic: Work hard, put aside egos, never doubt what you’re capable of, and never miss a chance to laugh. Solid advice for any football team—and, I suppose, for life in general.
Ryan Jones, senior editor
ICYMI, Brian Cuban: Here’s the best piece from Penn State student media I’ve read this week: a profile of Brian Cuban ’83, a “recovered anorexic, alcoholic, drug addict, and bulimic” who is working to raise awareness by telling his story. The author is the the soon-to-be-managing-editor of Onward State, Tim Gilbert, and this story is the very definition of a good read.
‘Forbidden Food': Restricting food from children may not be a productive way to teach them to eat healthy foods, according to work by Penn State researchers that warranted a story this week on the New York Times’ Well blog. (Aside: Great source for health and fitness and wellness news, with good comment threads, too.) Post-doc Brandi Rollins was lead author on the study, in which preschoolers were given the chance to “work” for food—clicking a mouse four times resulted in a cinnamon-flavored graham cracker. The concept: to study “reactive eaters,” who are highly motivated by food. As with most medical studies, this research doesn’t lend itself to a simple takeaway, so it’s worth it read the whole piece.
A new Paterno statue: Jessica Tully of Onward State reports that a Kickstarter campaign will begin in July to raise $300,000 to build a bronze statue of Joe Paterno in the brick alley near The Tavern. The restaurant’s owner, Pat Daughtery, expressed interest, and Kim Intorre got permission from State College, which stipulated that the statue be built on private property.
Weekly BOT election reminder: The election for three alumni seats on the Board of Trustees opened April 10, and so far, turnout is down. If you’ve not yet voted, check out our Three Questions project to familiarize yourself with the 31 candidates. Voting ends at 9 a.m. EDT, May 8.
Lori Shontz, senior editor
For the second day in a row, I find myself wrapping up the Board of Trustees meeting by starting at the end.
Just as board chair Keith Masser ’73 was preparing to adjourn the Friday’s meeting, Al Clemens ’59 jumped in to read a statement. He got right to the point, announcing that he was resigning from the board.
Clemens, a gubernatorial appointee, joined the board in 1995 and was the only one of the four trustees remaining as plaintiffs in the Paterno family’s lawsuit against the NCAA who was on the board when the Sandusky scandal broke. As a result, he is the only one of the trustees who was found to have standing to sue on the claim of defamation.
He said the board didn’t have much information or time to discuss the issues when it voted quickly on Nov. 9, 2011, to fire Joe Paterno: “I will always regret that my name is attached to that rush to injustice.”
He indicated, as well, that hiring Louis Freeh and accepting his conclusions “without review” was another mistake and that he joined the Paterno family’s lawsuit in an attempt to “reverse the misguided sanctions that were designed to punish a football program without blemish.”
He also said his resignation was in keeping with his belief in term limits; the current limit is 12 years, but members including Clemens were grandfathered in when that change was made. He has served for 19 years.
Clemens’ term on the board actually expired in 2012, according to the trustees’ website; staff from the trustees office said that there’s often a long lag between when a governor-appointed trustee’s term expires and when the governor nominates a replacement. Gov. Tom Corbett announced in late February that he was nominating Cliff Benson ’71 and Todd Rucci ’92 to fill the seats of Clemens and Ira Lubert ’73. Those nominations must still be confirmed by the state senate.
Lubert’s term technically ended in 2013, as did the term of vice chair Paul Silvis ’06g, for whom a replacement has not been announced. The terms of two other governor appointees, student Peter Khoury and Mark Dambly ’80, expire in 2014.
Also noteworthy from the meeting:
Alumni election changes pass: All alumni who have email addresses on file with the university will receive ballots in the upcoming alumni trustee election. Trustees unanimously passed a motion to change the procedure in the university’s charter; previously, only alumni who are Alumni Association members or have donated to the university in the past two years automatically received ballots, although any alum could request one.
After the issue was debated and unanimously passed in the January governance committee meeting, Penn State sent postcards to 186,610 alumni without email addresses on file, governance chair Keith Eckel said Thursday during the committee meeting. The cost: $82,000.
Eckel said Thursday that only 400 of the cards had been returned and noted that while he thought reaching out to alumni was the right thing to do, the “somewhat disappointing” rate of return meant that the gesture likely doesn’t need to be repeated. At Friday’s meeting, he said he’d been told that the number of returned postcards had increased to 700.
The alumni election starts April 10, and alumni still have time to return the cards. All of these changes are taking place after the nomination process for alumni trustees, which ran from mid-January to late February. In the future, all alums with email addresses on file will receive both a nomination form and an election ballot.
Public comment: After several meetings in which the number of speakers during the public comment session shrunk, nine speakers were announced for Friday’s meeting, although only seven showed up to speak. Also in contrast to recent meetings, when speakers covered a variety of issues, most criticized how the board has handled to the Sandusky scandal.
Ceil Massella, an alumna and wife of football letterman Brian, told the board, “Just as I always think of the shooting when think of Kent State, this university will always be associated with Sandusky’s guilt unless the record is set straight.”
Evan Smith ’11 asked the board, “What are you personally doing with your position of power to help serve the Penn State family? How are you helping us fight this battle of public perception?”
Several speakers also reiterated their belief that the board owes an apology to the family of Joe Paterno.
Facts and figures: President Rod Erickson said applications for 2014-15 baccalaureate admission have increased by 9,000 over last year—19 percent at University Park and 8 percent at the commonwealth campuses. Out-of-state applications are up 26 percent, and international applications are up 18 percent. Minority applications he said, are running 16 percent of last year.
He also said that the quality of applicants is higher: Their average SAT score is 20 percent greater than last year’s.
Lori Shontz, senior editor
President-elect Eric Barron seems to like automotive analogies. He rattled off two when he spoke to the Board of Trustees on Monday afternoon, immediately after being named Penn State’s 18th president:
Auto Analogy No. 1: When Barron was learning to drive, his father told him to lift up his head and look not at the hood ornament, but down the road: “You will discover it is much easier to get where you are trying to go.” Barron found that the tip resulted in “a much better driving experience” and also turned out to be a good life philosophy. “Our job, all of our job, is to see down the road, sense the future, and ensure that this great institution is at the forefront of success and achievement.” (more…)
We are hours away from being introduced to Penn State’s 18th president: Eric J. Barron, the president of Florida State University and a climatologist who spent 20 years in Penn State’s College of Earth and Mineral Sciences, including four as its dean.
Onward State broke the story Friday afternoon, a few hours after Penn State announced that the Board of Trustees had scheduled a special meeting for today. The board’s compensation committee is meeting in executive session at 9 Monday morning, to be followed by an executive session of the full board. The public board meeting starts at noon at The Penn Stater conference center; it’s expected that the board’s vote on Barron will be followed by a news conference. We’ll have full coverage Monday afternoon.
Barron’s recent mentions in the media have centered around the investigation into Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston, who was accused of rape; you can check out his official responses to the news of the accusation and to the decision by Tallahassee officials to not charge Winston here and here.
But a deeper foray into the archives and Google provides a track record that gives insight into how Barron approaches funding issues and controversies, and it illuminates his academic specialty, climatology, as well. No less a respected figure than Richard Alley, Evan Pugh professor of geosciences and a member of the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that won a Nobel Prize, told the Centre Daily Times that Barron is “one of the real pioneering names in adding climate history to our understanding of climate future.”
This is far from a complete list, but here are some pieces I found interesting:
On state funding and tuition: Like many university presidents, Barron spent a significant amount of his time at Florida State dealing with dwindling state appropriations. (In 2012, Florida State’s appropriation had declined by 25 percent in four years, dating back to before Barron’s tenure.) His circumstance was slightly different, however, in that public universities in Florida can’t set their own tuition rates. When Penn State officials lobby for better funding from the state legislature, they argue that a larger state appropriation will allow them to minimize tuition rates. Barron was lobbying both for more money from the state and for the ability to raise tuition beyond what the Florida government would approve.
In April 2013, Florida Gov. Rick Scott signed the Career and Professional Education Act, which did increase funding for universities with “pre-eminent” academic programs. As of now, that’s just Florida State and the University of Florida, which will each receive an extra $15 million from the state. (Other universities can get more funding when they meet certain benchmarks.) Barron wrote this op-ed piece that appeared in several Florida newspapers in April. Among the highlights is this paragraph:
Quite simply, we have demonstrated that we know how to invest a dollar in quality. Florida State is currently ranked No. 212 in financial resources among all the 270 ranked national universities. Since 1999, Florida State has dropped 46 places in financial resources compared to its peers, while at the same time achieving its highest quality ratings in 15 years.
On fundraising: When Barron was hired as Florida State’s president in 2010, the initial news story from the St. Petersburg Times made clear that fundraising was one of his charges. (I can’t link to it, sorry; it’s no longer online.) According to the story, trustees had spoken of Barron raising $1 billion for the university’s endowment, which was then $446.8 million. Barron compared Florida State’s development staff to those at the two previous universities at which he’d worked—Texas and Penn State. Texas, he said, had one employee “on the road” raising money for every 3,800 alumni. Penn State, he said, had one employee for every 5,200 alumni. At Florida State, the ratio was one for every 14,000 alumni. Barron told the paper, “We’re not even saying hello.”
Barron did initiate a $1 billion capital campaign, which is about half over.
On changing conferences: At the height of rumors in 2012 that Florida State was considering a move from the ACC to the Big 12, several news outlets obtained an email written by Barron that listed the pros and cons of switching conferences. The list of pros was four short items and focused on improved competition in football and higher revenue. The seven cons fleshed out the fine print of the financial situation, including that Florida State didn’t necessarily have the money it would need to pay to leave the ACC, and included a caution that a switch would not serve the university’s academic mission:
The faculty are adamantly opposed to joining a league that is academically weaker—and in fact, many of them resent the fact that a 2% ($2.4M) deficit in the athletics budget receives so much attention from concerned Seminoles, but the loss of 25% of the academic budget ($105M) gets none when it is the most critical concern of this University in terms of its successful future.
On Bobby Bowden: Given the continuing sentiment that Penn State should honor Joe Paterno in some fashion, I found this piece in the Palm Beach Post particularly interesting: Three years after Bobby Bowden coached his last game, when Barron’s predecessor, T.K. Wetherell, had refused to renew his contract, Barron invited Bowden back to campus to be honored. Bowden’s departure had been contentious—he was so hurt he hadn’t set foot on the campus where he coached for 34 years—but Barron asked him to return to campus for a Bobby Bowden weekend. The culmination: Bowden planted the spear in the field before kickoff. From the story:
“It was important to me all along to make that call,” Barron said. “I knew there needed to be a little bit of space for a lot of different reasons.”
Barron also knew the tribute was necessary because “(so) much of the psyche of the university is tied to this great coach who put football on the map and helped made FSU a household name.”
On academic freedom: Before Barron arrived at Florida State, the economics department received a $1.5 million grant from the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation to hire professors. The arrangement became controversial when it was revealed that contract allowed representatives of the foundation, bankrolled by a billionaire libertarian activist, to screen and approve hires. Barron eventually asked the faculty senate to review the contract; a committee found that the arrangement was improper, and the university changed guidelines to prevent future such incidents.
The Tampa Bay Times editorialized:
FSU leaders—including Barron, who joined the university after the contract was signed—did not initially acknowledge that the university had all but sold influence in the economics department’s operation for a paltry sum. But as more details became public in May, Barron requested the faculty review, and on Friday he ordered various campus leaders to take its recommendations to heart. It’s the right direction, even if it took two months to get there.
On a personal note: In 2011, Tallahassee Magazine did a joint profile of Barron and his wife, Molly, that painted a picture of Barron as a undergrad with long hair who favored “cutoff shorts and sandals” and included this fabulous story of how they met:
The Barrons say the tone for their relationship was set on their very first date. Eric had asked Molly to go on a hike in the mountains—but they had to start early so he could be back in town for a seminar.
“We get in my pickup truck and we’re driving up the mountain and it’s like 6:30 and I yawned,” he recalled. “She said, ‘Am I boring you already?’”
Molly continued the story: “But then he promised me I’d never be bored—and I never have been.”
“That was part of my marriage proposal,” said Eric Barron. “I said, ‘There’s no telling where we’ll be, what we’ll be doing, but I promise you, you won’t be bored.’”
I think I’ll stop there. I didn’t find any anecdotes about Barron that topped that.
Lori Shontz, senior editor
Remembering Paterno: Joe Paterno died two years ago today, and there’s a lot of material to read and reflect on whether you’re heading to tonight’s vigil in his memory at the Suzanne Pohland Paterno Catholic Student Faith Center (if you’re going, dress warm!) or not. Matt Brown ’10 of Sports on Earth writes a smart piece about Paterno’s complicated legacy and the dividing line that is College Avenue. Charlie Thompson of The Patriot-News delves into the behind-the-scenes editing of Paterno’s Wikipedia page. Kevin Horne of Onward State reprints Paterno’s 1983 speech to the Board of Trustees. Have you found other good pieces? Let us know in the comments.
In Memory of Sandy Hook: Phil Clark ’87 had always intended, someday, to establish a scholarship. The tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School accelerated his plans. The founder of Claris Construction, which is based in Newtown, Conn., site of the school, has established the Penn State Sandy Hook Scholarship to help graduates of Newtown’s high school enroll in Penn State’s College of Engineering. Clark helped to assess the site of the former elementary school, which was razed, and is consulting with the architectural firm designing the new school.
Penn State’s connection to the Baseball Hall of Fame: That’s John Montgomery Ward, who didn’t let being thrown out of Penn State for helping a friend steal chickens derail his baseball career. This story by Onward State’s Jessica Tully details his life from a Penn State star who’s sometimes credited with inventing the curve ball—that’s erroneous, but he apparently did throw the first curve in Penn State history, on the Old Main lawn—to someone who was honored for helping to lead a revolt against baseball’s board of directors. After his death, his role in reforming labor practices got him elected to the Hall.
Hear a Genius pianist: Jeremy Denk, a classical pianist who received a 2013 MacArthur Fellowship, better known as a “genius grant,” is performing as part of the Center for the Performing Arts’ series at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 29, at Eisenhower Auditorium. But you can also catch him at 8 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 28, at a special “coffeehouse” performance at the Hintz Family Alumni Center. He’ll play a few pieces, and he’ll converse with guests, too. For more info, click on this news release and scroll down to the bottom.
Lori Shontz, senior editor
You can read most of our updates from Friday’s Board of Trustees meeting on this post from Friday evening, but here are a few more for your Monday morning:
—Presidential search update: Board chair Keith Masser ’73 opened the meeting with an update on the presidential search process, which was rebooted in November. He said simply that the process is continuing and that “we are on pace to name the next president of Penn State in the months ahead.”
There is a deadline: President Rod Erickson is retiring at the end of June. Or, as he put it two Saturdays ago when a reporter at the news conference introducing James Franklin asked Erickson if he had any update on the search: “My last day of work is June 30, 2014.”
Click here for a piece by Charlie Thompson of The Patriot-News that gets a little more in-depth on the search.
—A new Joe Paterno statue: Joel Myers ‘61, ’63g, ’71g, chair of the outreach committee, didn’t have a committee meeting to report about Friday; the outreach committee meeting was off the agenda (along with the student life committee meeting) to allow enough time for a retreat with governance consultant Holly Gregory. Myers did ask if he could read a brief statement. The topic: that it is time to unite the various factions of Penn Staters.
That’s a theme Myers has sounded periodically, but this time, he quoted Abraham Lincoln (“A house divided cannot stand …”) and proposed that “now is the time” for there to be a statue of Fred Lewis Pattee and Joe Paterno to be erected in front of the library. The Centre Daily Times has full coverage with a story and text of the speech.
—BOT nominations continuing: There’s still plenty of time—until Feb. 26—for alumni to submit their nominations for one of the three alumni seats up for election in 2014. (If you’re a member of the Penn State Alumni Association or have donated to the university within the past two years, you should have received a nomination form in your email. If you’re an alum and would like to request one, click here.)
Mike Dawson ’02 of the Centre Daily Times checked in with the three incumbents—Myers, Jesse Arnelle ’55, ’62g, and Marianne Ellis Alexander ’62—during the meeting to ask whether they are running for re-election; all said they hadn’t decided yet. None of the alumni trustees who were on the board in November 2011 have been re-elected.
Lori Shontz, senior editor