Posts filed under ‘Joe Paterno’
Paterno movie update: Jessica Tully of Onward State checked in with David McKenna, the screenwriter for a planned biopic on Joe Paterno based on the book by Joe Posnanski. There’s still no timeline. There’s still no casting update, although Al Pacino is still apparently slated to play Paterno. McKenna said he had admired Paterno growing up, since he’d watched Penn State’s 48-14 victory over Pitt in 1981. Said McKenna: “I vividly remember asking myself ‘Who’s that little Italian guy with the glasses on the sideline?’ Well, let’s just say I was hooked after that.”
Married on campus: It shouldn’t surprise anyone that when Buzzfeed decided to do a list of “insanely beautiful colleges you can get married at,” Penn State made the list. I don’t think the photos do this place justice, though. Old Main is a great venue, but I can’t believe Buzzfeed couldn’t find wedding party photos from the gardens outside my office at the Hintz Family Alumni Center or at the Arboretum. Photos like those might have put Penn State higher than No. 13.
Income gap widening: Economists in the College of Agricultural Sciences released a report Tuesday that’s sobering for residents of Pennsylvania: the state lost 16,000 jobs from 2001 to 2011, and the economists also found what Ted Alter, professor of agricultural, environmental and regional economics, called “major shift in employment from higher to lower wage industries.” Ted Fuller, development economist in the college’s Center for Economic and Community Development, noted that “this loss of high-middle wage jobs–through recent cyclical ups and downs alike–probably does not bode well for the Pennsylvania economy.” You can read the Penn State news release by clicking here or check out the full report at this link.
Trumka celebrates Lincoln: And if you’ve not yet digested enough coverage of the 150th anniversary of the Gettysburg Address, which was Tuesday, you should check this out: Richard Trumka ’71, president of the AFL-CIO, participated in a project by documentary filmmaker Ken Burns and PBS in which celebrities recited the Gettysburg Address. His reading clocks in at 1 minute, 51 seconds. It’s a genius speech, so it’s always worth your time to listen.
Lori Shontz, senior editor
It’s certainly not news that Penn State’s Board of Trustees has some divisions:
—In the past two alumni trustee elections, candidates upset with the board’s handling of the Sandusky scandal—and particularly its treatment of Joe Paterno—won election by large margins.
—Friday’s election for vice chair won’t be a formality, because there are two candidates, Ryan McCombie ’70 and Paul Silvis ’06g. Although it’s not unprecedented to have an actual vote, it is rare. (And there were three candidates until Linda Brodsky Strumpf ’69 withdrew Thursday morning.)
—Five of the trustees have joined the Paterno family, former Penn State football coaches and players, and Penn State faculty in a lawsuit against the NCAA.
But for a vivid example of the division—and the emotion involved—look no further than the governance and long-range planning committee’s discussion Thursday afternoon at Penn State Fayette about whether to recommend two former trustees for emeritus status.
The background: Emeritus status is granted to former trustees who have “served as a board member for 12 years or more with distinction,” according to the board’s standing orders (click here for a PDF; scroll down to page 11 for the specific criteria considered). Making clear the role of emeritus trustees and deciding upon more specific criteria has come up in discussions about governance reform, but the issue hasn’t really been discussed deeply.
On Thursday afternoon, for the first time since the scandal, the governance committee considered recommending former trustees for emeritus status. Keith Eckel, the new chair of the committee, put forth the names of the two alumni trustees who left the board in June 2012: David Jones ’54, who decided to not run for reelection, and Anne Riley ’64, ’75g, who was defeated. Both had been on the board since 1997.
Immediately, alumni trustee Anthony Lubrano ’82 spoke up.
“These two may well be qualified to receive that status from this board,” he said. “But I think we would be sending the wrong message to our community if we granted them the status today when we haven’t yet decided what status we give to Joe Paterno, who gave 61 years of exemplary service.”
Barbara Doran ’75, who just joined the board after becoming the top vote-getter in the most recent alumni trustee election, immediately backed him up. “I think it’s a legitimate issue because of where the alumni are,” she said. “One issue is how Joe Paterno has been treated. I know the board has said at some point in time it’s going to honor Joe Paterno, but that time is not here yet. So I think this timing on this … the time now is not ideal in terms of alumni feeling about this.”
The first voice for the opposing view was another alumni trustee, Marianne Ellis Alexander ’62, who has been on the board since 2005: “I think it would be unfair to hold these two people hostage. … We’re talking about status for people who have served on the Board of Trustees; this is a very narrow subject that we’re talking about. In the case of these individuals, they’ve done exactly what I think would qualify them to be an emeritus trustee. Quite frankly, I think we need their help out there … for example, as ambassadors for the good of the university. I think they should be recognized. This is a separate issue from the former issue.”
The discussion continued in the same vein for about 15 minutes and included a heated exchange between Lubrano and board chair Keith Masser ’73 over the procedure used in May to vote on the governance reforms. Lubrano accused Masser of going back on his pledge to vote on each individual reform separately; Masser said he had provided an opportunity to do so via a procedural move to save time and added, angrily, “I fulfilled my word!”
Another new trustee, business and industry appointee Richard Dandrea ’77, said he agreed with Alexander. “There’s no reason to obstruct the recognition of these individuals because, Anthony, of your desire to see the recognition move at a different pace than apparently the board has decided to go.”
Also weighing in was Bill Oldsey ’76, another newly elected alumni trustee, who is not a member of the committee but was sitting at the end of the meeting table. It’s not unusual for trustees from other committees to sit in on discussions, but they generally sit in the area provided for the public to observe, as McCombie was doing during this discussion.
Oldsey said he doesn’t know Jones, but that he knows Riley well. “Anne will never stop being an ambassador for Penn State, whether she’s granted emeritus status or not,” he said. “She’s one of the truest Penn Staters. I may not agree with every decision she’s made, but she’s an extraordinary Penn Stater. I don’t think you can take that out of Anne Riley. It’s just part of her DNA.
“Many times in business, you have to hold off on one decision to leverage what is perhaps a more important decision. This is the way things happen sometimes. The phrase holding hostage, I’m not sure is completely apropos here. I do think some of us have an extraordinarily good radar right now for how the alumni base will react to certain things. You may believe it or choose not to believe it. That’s up to you. But the alumni base may not respond particularly well. We have to decide as a board whether we care or not.”
After a little more back-and-forth about the qualifications for and duties of an emeritus trustee, Oldsey’s statement prompted Jim Broadhurst ’65, the former committee chair, to weigh in on behalf of Riley:
“I hate to do this,” he began. “But you can’t know her that well in that you don’t know how important this distinction is to her. I have never, in my many years on the board, ever seen anyone up for this status that was so anticipating that occurring in her life.” Broadhurst turned to address Oldsey directly. “You ought to go talk to her about it, see how important it is to her. It’s extremely important.”
Broadhurst talked a bit about how the role of an emeritus trustee has changed; they are less involved than they were in the past, and the board is still considering exactly what the emeritus trustees’ role will be in the future. He talked about what Riley has done for Penn State, how she teaches classes and has been helping oversee the restoration of the Land Grant Frescos in Old Main. He pointed out that in the past, trustees qualified for emeritus status received it within months—at the meeting after their final board meeting—but that the current contenders had been on hold for a year.
“I think to hold this up would be a travesty,” he concluded. “As much respect as I have for Joe and everyone else … I feel sorry for the alumni that would be disappointed in this action, I really do.”
The committee then voted on whether to recommend Riley to be named emerita trustee. Lubrano voted no loudly and said he would like his vote “absolutely recorded.” Doran voted no as well, but she did so silently, by raising her hand, and Tom Poole ’84g, the board’s secretary, made sure to clarify what the final vote was. It was 5-2.
The committee next considered Jones, and while the discussion was shorter and less passionate, it followed the same basic framework. The vote was the same, too: 5-2 in favor of recommending emeritus status for Jones. Among its other business Friday—including approving a tuition increase and electing a vice chair—the full board will vote on the recommendations.
Lori Shontz, senior editor
We had our annual alumni reunions here at University Park this past weekend, and the Class of 1963 asked me if I’d be the speaker on Saturday night at the dinner marking their 50-year reunion.
The idea came from Donna Sutin Queeney ’63, who suggested that I present a slide show of images from The Penn Stater over the years, starting with fall of 1959—when she and her classmates arrived on campus as freshmen—and continuing through to the present. It turned out to be a fun and very engrossing project.
Back in 2010, as we prepared for our centennial issue, the magazine staff combed through just about every issue from 1910 to the present. Each person took a decade (or two) and looked carefully at each and every issue from that decade, compiling a list of the stuff that stuck out: stories or photos that looked quaint or goofy in retrospect, or that evoked the mood of the times, or that echoed recurring themes (“The state never gives us enough money”; “Tuition is going up again”; “Paterno says he’ll coach five more years”). I relied heavily on the staff’s notes for guidance, and ended up finding some great stuff. I thought I’d share with you a few of the images that I showed the Class of ’63 on Saturday night.
First, you should definitely click on the aerial photo at the top of the page in order to see it bigger—it shows a very different campus than the one we have today. In the upper left is a big chunk of green space left behind by the relocation of Beaver Field in 1959. To the right of that chunk of green is Hort Woods, which was huge back then but which has since shrunk, giving way to North Halls and a number of arts buildings.
Just to the right of the centerfold you can see the beginnings of East Halls, and way to the right of that, all alone in the distance, is Beaver Stadium.
People at the reunion also got a kick out of this photo from 1961 of football coach Rip Engle and his staff, including a 35-year-old Joe Paterno:
I’ve added the enlarged version of Joe on the right, and here again, you can best get the full effect by clicking on the photo to enlarge it.
While on the subject of football, I thought that these head shots of Galen Hall ’63 and Dave Robinson ’63 as young football players were fun:
Perhaps not surprisingly, when I put the images up on screen, just about everyone in the room could name the players—and several remembered that Robinson went on to be a first-round draft choice of the Green Bay Packers.
Something else that struck me as I paged through the back issues of the magazine was its courage in covering tough subjects. That’s very clearly a tradition with the Alumni Association’s flagship publication, going at least back to 1970, when it was simply called the Alumni News. I had known about the three-part series on “The Black Experience at Penn State” back in 1989, when then-editor Donna Symmonds Clemson ’55 showed a lot of guts in chronicling how difficult life could be for black students here. But I hadn’t realized that nearly 20 years before that, in 1970, the magazine did two separate features—one in January and one in May—on campus unrest. Below is the opening spread from the May 1970 story, about students occupying Old Main:
That kind of unflinching coverage wasn’t necessarily common in alumni magazines at the time, and in some ways it laid the groundwork for what we’ve been able to do in the magazine in more recent years.
Finally, on a lighter note, I came across this item from our July-August 2004 issue, about the birth of sextuplets at Hershey Medical Center:
They were the first sextuplets ever born at Hershey, and the proud parents were “Kate and Jonathan Gosselin of Wyomissing, Pa.” Gee, I wonder whatever became of them?
Tina Hay, editor
Those of us who work on The Penn Stater got together first thing this morning to talk about the latest development in the Sandusky scandal—the release of the Paterno family-commissioned rebuttal to the Freeh Report—and to figure out how to accommodate it in the next issue.
As I’m sure you know, ESPN devoted its Outside the Lines program yesterday to a new report in which four key figures, including former U.S. attorney general Dick Thornburgh and former FBI profiler Jim Clemente, blast the findings of the Freeh Report. (The other two experts are a Johns Hopkins expert on sexual disorders, Fred Berlin, and the Paterno family attorney, Wick Sollers.) The ESPN segment coincided with the launch of the website Paterno.com, where the newly released analysis can be found, and a segment on ABC-TV this afternoon in which Katie Couric interviews Sue Paterno ’62, three of the Paterno children, and two former Penn State football players, among others.
The Paterno family, in other words, is fighting back—fighting to get its side of the story heard and to refute the Freeh report’s claim that Joe Paterno helped cover up Jerry Sandusky’s sexual abuse of children.
Before this latest news hit, we had thought we were pretty much finished with the March/April issue. We were putting the final touches on two of the features and my column, while all of the other pages had already been put to bed. But this morning we agreed pretty quickly that we’ll need to rework the “Fallout” section, which is the department in each issue where we put ongoing news about the scandal. We’re adding a page to that section, and instead of leading off with Gov. Corbett’s lawsuit against the NCAA, we’ll push that to a later page and instead lead with the news of the Paterno family’s initiative.
Our story will most likely be just a recap of what’s happened in the past 36 hours or so, and it may or may not tell readers anything they don’t already know. But we’re unanimous in our feeling that it has to be there. From a credibility standpoint, if nothing else, we can’t imagine readers flipping through the March/April issue in a couple of weeks and not seeing a word about this.
Bimonthly print magazines generally aren’t the most nimble of media, and this isn’t the first time that developments in the scandal have forced us to scramble. But, to the staff’s credit, they just roll with it.
In the meantime, you can download the new Paterno analysis at Paterno.com. If you read nothing else, you might at least check out the section written by Clemente, the FBI guy; he talks quite a bit about how pedophiles operate and offers pragmatic advice for parents and others.
Also at Paterno.com, you’ll find Sue Paterno’s message to Penn State football lettermen, in which she answers the question of what the family hopes to accomplish by its newest efforts:
Is it the return of the statue? The restoration of Joe’s wins? His name on the football stadium? … Joe Paterno’s legacy wasn’t a statue, a winning record or public adulation. … His legacy is his family and you his players. How you live your life speaks louder than any report. The great fathers, husbands and citizens you have become fulfill the dreams Joe had. All that we want — and what I believe we owe the victims, Joe Paterno and everyone who cares about Penn State — is the full record of what happened.
It remains to be seen how much momentum the Paterno family’s efforts might gather. Early media reaction has been mixed at best; Dan Wetzel of Yahoo! Sports and Gene Wojciechowski of ESPN are among those who have been critical, and the Harrisburg Patriot‘s David Jones argues that it’s not about a cover-up anyway—it’s simply about Paterno’s failure to do enough to stop Sandusky.
On the other hand, a Philadelphia media outlet reported today that one Penn State trustee, Alvin Clemens ’59, thinks the trustees should now take a fresh look at the Freeh Report. And Sollers, the Paterno family attorney, hasn’t ruled out the possibility of taking legal action of some sort. What happens from here is anyone’s guess.
Tina Hay, editor
Karen Bretherick Peetz ’77 didn’t waste any time. She didn’t beat around the bush. She stood up to speak Friday afternoon at Alumni Council, told members to “ask the questions you want to ask,” and began addressing the issues by saying: “Subject One. The Freeh Report.”
Which, of course, is one of the issues that has divided alumni the most in the past year.
The chair of the Board of Trustees hasn’t traditionally addressed Alumni Council. But this is the second straight session in which Peetz has given a report and taken questions from council members. Both times, she’s attended with President Rod Erickson, and both times, she’s said that doing so is an important part of the board’s outreach to alumni.
On Friday afternoon, she wanted to make a key point: That she understands that the recommendation to examine Penn State’s culture has been “one of the big sticking points” for some Penn Staters. But she added that the recommendation, controversial as it has been, is actually a good thing.
“I can recognize the discomfort it causes,” Peetz said. “We’ve all loved the culture. But let’s consider culture in the abstract first, and let me pose some questions. Do you, in your business, examine why your organization consistently succeeds in certain areas and maybe falls short in others? Do you ask yourself why you do or don’t retain certain types of employees? Or why everyone seemingly stays at work until midnight … or, alternatively, why you have to tread cautiously at 5 p.m. so you don’t get trampled by the mass exodus?
“These are the cultural issues of an organization. It’s the way an organization acts, and in my experience, the best of organizations have as an underpinning of the culture and their practice a process of continual improvement, which includes an examination of that very culture. As a world class institution, we need to continue to do this.”
Subject No. 2 for Peetz was whether the board understood that the Freeh report would be used by the NCAA as a justification for sanctions. She said she would not get into the NCAA’s rationale—“that’s unproductive at best, divisive at worst”—and encouraged anyone who doesn’t understand the decision to read the reasons Erickson gave for the decision and additional explanation from Gene Marsh, an NCAA expert who was retained by the university. The information is available on the Board of Trustees website in a transcript of the Aug. 16 meeting; you can get a PDF of the transcript by clicking here. Erickson’s remarks start on page 25; Marsh’s start on page 16.
She reminded everyone that “we were faced with catastrophe” and also that Erickson has called the decision the hardest he’s had to make in his entire career. “And he did not make the decision alone,” she added. “He consulted with the executive committee of the board.”
Peetz finished her prepared remarks by asking for two things from council members: their “understanding and tolerance” as the board and the university continue dealing with fallout from the scandal, and their “visible support” in continuing to “speak out for Penn State” as leaders in their communities.
When Peetz and Erickson finished speaking, there was time for a few questions. Greg Malone ’95, president of the Connecticut Valley Chapter, immediately asked the other question that has divided alumni: how and whether Joe Paterno will be recognized. He noted that the university has missed opportunities for a video tribute and for a moment of silence and added, “I believe this posture has been a real sticking point for alumni who are otherwise eager to move on.”
Erickson fielded this one.
“We’re hearing from a lot of individuals, a lot of alumni, on both sides of this issue,” he said. “And that suggests to me that there’s still a lot of divergence of opinion about what to do. I personally think that we need some more time, time for reflection. I personally think to do something right now will push us apart rather than push us together.”
Peetz added that any such commemoration would be university-driven, not trustees-driven.
Council member Liz Bligan ’91, ’98g asked another question that’s been on the minds of many alumni: “When will the Board of Trustees fight back, defend Penn State, demand due process? You have not done that, and we are anxious for you to do that.”
Peetz noted that Tim Curley ’76, ’78g and Gary Schultz ’71, ’75g will have due process; their trial is scheduled for January. “So, frankly, after all that is said and done, then we’ll have to say, ‘OK, what does that inform us about the situation, and what do we do at that point?’” Peetz said. “Who knows what will be at that point? I’m sorry I can’t give you a more definitive answer, but the answer is: There’s more to come.”
Other notes from the session:
—The Blue White Vision Council, a group that will be facilitated by former University of Illinois president Stan Ikenberry and chaired by Peetz herself, is ready to begin meeting. The council, which includes faculty and students as well as trustees, will broadly examine Penn State’s mission and goals.
—Much of Erickson’s talk centered on Penn State’s enrollment. The Sandusky scandal did not have an effect on the current freshman class; Erickson said the current freshman class has about 7,700 students. But applications for next year are down between 10 and 35 percent so far, although Erickson also noted that “paid accepts” are holding pace with last year, and he assured council members that the quality of students hasn’t waned.
Some of the decline may be from the scandal, he said. But he thinks bigger changes in higher education—particularly students’ climbing debt loads and the lack of economic growth in Pennsylvania; possibly the rising application fees, which may be causing students to apply to fewer schools–might be additional causes. “We’re in a totally different era,” he said.
—Erickson also touched on fundraising. The Campaign for Penn State Students passed the $1.65 billion mark a few weeks ago, he said, and there are still 20 months remaining for the capital campaign to reach its $2 billion goal.
Lori Shontz, senior editor
It’s been interesting to see what’s happened to the site outside Beaver Stadium where Joe Paterno’s statue once stood. It’s just a grassy hillside now, but some people are treating the spot almost as if the statue is still there: They leave little mementos in the grass, especially on home football weekends.
The weekend of the Ohio game, someone put a tiny Bobblehead Joe in the grass. I think someone stuck a miniature cardboard Stand-Up Joe there at one point. And this past weekend there suddenly were flowers with notes, a ballcap, game tickets, and other items—along with a sign that said “KARMA HAS NO DEADLINE.” (See photo, below.)
Penn State art historian Brian Curran wouldn’t be surprised to see that, I don’t think. I interviewed Curran at the end of July, nine days after the statue came down, for a piece in our Sept-Oct issue. We ran it as a short Q&A in the magazine, and posted a longer version of it here on the blog. I sought him out for some academic, historical perspective on statues of heroes—from ancient Egypt, to ancient Rome, through the Renaissance and on up to present times.
I was especially interested in how various societies have dealt with statues of heroes who fall out of favor: In ancient Egypt, for example, (more…)
We asked our intern, Erika Spicer, to attend Joe Posnanski’s talk Friday at the HUB. We’ve read and written so much over the past 10 months about Paterno and his legacy, and we were interested in Erika’s perspective—both as an undergraduate, and in particular as a journalism major. Here’s what she came away with.
As I sat in my plastic chair in Alumni Hall waiting for Paterno author Joe Posnanski to speak, I mulled over the fact I probably wasn’t going to learn anything new.
I am so tired of listening to people rehash the events surrounding Joe Paterno, I thought to myself, feeling a twinge of guilt as I sat among some Paterno supporters. With the release of Paterno in the midst of a new era for Penn State football, I knew where a lot of this discussion was headed Friday afternoon.
As I predicted, questions like, “How do you think Joe Paterno would feel about the NCAA sanctions?” popped up when moderator Malcolm Moran, director of the John Curley Center for Sports Journalism, which sponsored the talk, gave audience members the opportunity to ask Posnanski questions. Not that I could blame them –– after all, Posnanski not only spent (more…)
I just finished reading Pete Thamel’s excellent profile of new Penn State football coach BIll O’Brien in today’s New York Times. You really should check it out if you haven’t already.
It’s not the first profile to address the role that O’Brien’s son Jack’s disability plays in the family’s life; among others, our own Ryan Jones ’95 covered that in our July-Aug cover story. Nor is it the first to show that the family’s adversity gives O’Brien a special perspective on the challenges he’s now facing as Penn State’s football coach. But it’s just a very, very good profile. Among other things, I learned that O’Brien’s best friend is Syracuse coach Doug Marrone, and I got a different perspective on O’Brien’s seeming job-hopping over the years before arriving at Penn State.
And it was kinda cool to learn that Patriots coach Bill Belichick (more…)
First, his attorneys held a news conference in Philadelphia to blast the Freeh report. (You can watch that news conference in its entirety here.) Then, ABC announced that correspondent Josh Elliott had conducted an interview with Spanier and that the network would show excerpts on World News Tonight, on Nightline, and on Good Morning America. Yesterday afternoon The New Yorker published substantial excerpts from a conversation Spanier had with Jeffrey Toobin last month. And this afternoon the Philadelphia Inquirer ran a short article quoting Spanier from a telephone interview conducted earlier today.
Here are a few highlights from Spanier’s media interviews.
On the 2001 shower incident. Spanier says he never was told that the incident involving Jerry Sandusky and a young boy in the Lasch Building showers was sexual in nature—only that there had been “horseplay” or “horsing around.” He told ABC’s Elliott: ”I guess I was thinking back (more…)
Attorneys for Graham Spanier defended the former Penn State president in a news conference today, and blasted the Freeh report as “so infused with bias and innuendo that it is quite simply unworthy of the confidence placed in it.”
Spanier himself didn’t attend the news conference, held in Philadelphia, but he sat down for an interview with ABC News’ Josh Elliott. According to an ABC news release, portions of the interview will appear online on ESPN this afternoon, on World News With Diane Sawyer tonight at 6:30 EDT, and on Good Morning America tomorrow morning.
The ABC interview is billed as an exclusive—the first time Spanier has spoken publicly since he lost his job last Nov. 9—but just this afternoon, the New Yorker’s Jeffrey Toobin published lengthy excerpts from an interview that he did with Spanier last month.
Tim Lewis, one of several attorneys representing Spanier, did most of the talking at this morning’s news conference. He described Spanier as (more…)