Posts filed under ‘Sandusky scandal’
From news to features, your daily dose of everything Penn State.
Innovation in sight: A Penn State-led team received a $10 million Expeditions in Computing award from the National Science Foundation for the development of a machine vision system that replicates human cognitive abilities. The project, says an NSF manager, “holds promise for making momentous impact on society.”
Among the Ivies: Penn State University Libraries rank eighth among North American research libraries, according to a recent report from the Association of Research Libraries. Also in the top 10: Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Cornell, and Columbia.
From news to features, your daily dose of everything Penn State.
Food for thought: A writer from Forbes magazine uses the research of Evan Pugh professor Donald Hambrick, who’s also the Smeal chaired professor of management, to rank the 25 most narcissistic CEOs. (Spoiler alert: the No. 1 ranking, by a lot, goes to Google’s Larry Page.) There’s an interesting discussion of Hambrick’s research, which delves into how a CEO’s background affects the way she or he runs a company, and this piece also explores the idea that narcissism isn’t necessarily a bad thing (see: Steve Jobs). This will make you think.
Reading list: Kesley Tamborrino of the Collegian tells the tale of Michelle Kemper Brownlow ’92, who drew upon her Penn State experiences her first novel, In Too Deep. The novel traces an emotionally abusive relationship which is exacerbated when the boyfriend pledges a fraternity—something that happened to Brownlow—but also includes happier allusions to The Phyrst (called Mitchell’s) and West Halls, among others.
Must-see TV: If you’re a hockey fan, you’re in luck. (more…)
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
You know, it wasn’t all that long ago that hardly anyone paid attention to the annual election for three alumni seats on the Board of Trustees. These days, however, most of the alumni I speak with know a lot about the election. And they want to know more.
That’s why, for the second consecutive year, we’ve put together what we call our “Three Questions” project.
We think it’s important for candidates to be on the record talking about the major issues and challenges that Penn State will be facing, and we think it’s important for alumni voters to understand the differences among the candidates. Although the number of candidates declined to 39 this year from 86 last year, it’s still hard to choose from so many. We hope this project will help alumni be informed voters in the election, which starts Wednesday, April 10, and ends at 9 a.m. Thursday, May 2.
We think of this as a voter’s guide, a place where alumni can get the information they need. We’ve given each candidate a page that includes an official bio and position statement (from the Board of Trustees’ website) and links to social media sites (be aware that you may need to be logged into Facebook or LinkedIn to get the full effect).
We have presented the responses just as the candidates wrote them—our only stipulation was that they stay under 250 words for each answer. A few people went over, and we did some light editing to make them fit. If we didn’t understand something, we contacted the author to clarify. But otherwise, as I wrote last year, their responses are unvarnished and unedited.
We’re thrilled that 36 of the 39 candidates, or 92 percent, took the time to respond. And we hope you’ll find this resource useful. Let us know what you think, either in the comments below or on our Facebook page.
Lori Shontz, senior editor
For more than two and a half hours, everyone fidgeted in their seats, and the tension built. The Board of Trustees meeting plodded along. Through a long informational report on the Penn State Hershey Medical Center. Through a time-lapse video of the Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital construction. Through a PowerPoint presentation about residence halls, one that touched on room and board fees.
The time scheduled for public comment, 3:45 p.m, came and went. Media checked their watches. Alumni speculated on Twitter about the board’s motive for dragging out the proceedings for so long.
And then, finally, what everyone was expecting—waiting for, really—happened.
Trustee Ken Frazier ’75, chair of the board task force that commissioned the Freeh report, defended Louis Freeh’s investigation in a full, public board meeting—and trustee Anthony Lubrano ’82, elected to the board 10 months ago because of alumni anger over the Sandusky scandal and how Joe Paterno was treated by the trustees, questioned the report’s validity.
Minutes later, during the public comment portion, five football lettermen, each wearing a sticker proclaiming himself “Member of the GRAND EXPERIMENT,” suggested that the trustees were driven by a hidden agenda, that they had failed in their leadership role, that they had opened the door to NCAA sanctions, that they had fractured the university community.
“The good news here,” said Mark Battaglia ’82, a center on the 1982 national championship team, “is that we’re losing. We didn’t lose. We’re losing badly. We need to change the strategy. You guys can do that. There’s still time.”
It was a moment that had been building, really, since the scandal broke 16 months ago, even before the Freeh report was released in July. Alumni anger intensified with the Freeh report, and then the release of the Paterno report last month seemed to mark another milestone. After more than a year of near-silence about the situation on Twitter, Jay Paterno ’91 and Scott Paterno ’97 began engaging with followers. More lettermen organized.
And Lubrano pushed his case harder Friday in the board’s public meeting.
First, Keith Eckel, chair of the legal and compliance committee, invited Frazier to “remind us what the thought process was surrounding the Freeh report.” Frazier largely repeated his defense of the report from Thursday’s separate committee meeting (the Centre Daily Times has a good summary here), although he did apologize for making an O.J. Simpson analogy: He had referred to Bill Cluck ’82, who had questioned him, as “one of the few people in this country that looks like you who actually believes the O.J. Simpson not guilty verdict was correct.”
On the Freeh report, Frazier said in part: “The facts are the facts. And the contemporaneous emails and other documentation are among the most important evidence produced. … The documents appear to show, in varying degrees, by date and by individual, that people who were in a position to protect kids did not do so.” And he reiterated his desire to not re-examine the Freeh report because that would be “rewriting history.”
Which prompted this response from Lubrano, who wants Louis Freeh and Dick Thornburgh, the former U.S. attorney general and Pennsylvania governor who wrote part of the Paterno family’s report, to meet with the board: “I understand that Ken says he doesn’t want to rewrite history. But I’m not sure history was correct.”
“This isn’t grandstanding,” Lubrano added. “This is a serious matter. This is a very, very serious matter. Like the rest of you, I love this institution. What I understand in dealing with the alumni community is this very simple fact: They too love Penn State. And they don’t feel that due process and truth was something we had here.”
That was the crux of the discussion between the two men. Among the other points they touched on was whether the engagement letter promising that Freeh investigators would turn over evidence to the state attorney general was irregular; Lubrano questioned it, but Frazier said such a clause is standard procedure when an investigation overlaps in time with an ongoing criminal investigation.
And then former football player Adam Taliaferro ’05, who has rarely spoken in full board meetings since he was elected 10 months ago, chimed in:
“I’ve been an active listener since I joined the board,” he said. “As you can see, we’ve got very smart people on this board and very different positions on the hows and whys. We all know what the ‘what’ is. I do believe that bringing in people and asking the hows and whys would help us, I think, move forward. I think we all want to move forward. For me, I know it would help me better understand each side. Because I come here with my own preconceived notions. It’s hard for me not to.”
This prompted Alvin Clemens ’59 to speak: “The problem here is there’s a bit of divide between the alumni and the board. We all won’t be on board until we somehow smoke this out.” He said he wanted to know why NCAA president Mark Emmert has repeatedly mentioned the 1998 incident, which was investigated by the authorities, and why state authorities weren’t monitoring Jerry Sandusky after that 1998 investigation, although no charges were filed.
At this point, 29 minutes after the legal committee report began with Frazier’s Freeh report explanation, Jim Broadhurst ’65 suggested that it was time to move on to the next item on the committee’s agenda. Many of the public in attendance booed, but the board did move on.
So what’s next? Will Freeh and/or Thornburgh be invited to address the board? Will the discussion continue?
Board chair Keith Masser ’73 said afterward that the way to bring any such item to the full board is to go through the appropriate committee—in this case, legal and compliance—and ask the committee chair to have the committee vote. (That’s what the governance and long-range planning committee did during its Thursday meeting with the changes to the board structure. But that’s a subject for an upcoming blog post.) He and vice chair Stephanie Deviney ’97g said they would assure that that would follow up with the appropriate chair, Eckel.
I feel like I end a lot of scandal- and trustees-related posts like this, but it’s always appropriate: Stay tuned.
Lori Shontz, senior editor
If there’s been a silver lining in the difficult last 14 months on campus, it’s been the abundance of teachable moments provided by the Sandusky scandal and its fallout. That’s a cliche (and one I normally try to avoid), but hey, this is a university, right? Everything should be fodder for learning.
Mike Poorman ’82 has made the most of those opportunities since the scandal broke. A journalist and longtime faculty member in the College of Communications, Mike created and taught the famous “JoePa” class, and he’s been tying the scandal into his teaching since the week the story broke. He continues to do so in his new class, Comm 170: Introduction to the Sports Industry.
I dropped in on Mike’s class Friday, when the guest speaker was none other than Jay Paterno ’91. For these students, a mix of communications majors who might end up in journalism, public relations, broadcasting, marketing, or who knows what else, it was a rare look at the process of sports business—which, for the media companies that hosted Jay in more than two dozen interviews in the past five days, is exactly what this is about. Jay talked honestly about how he and his family decided which TV and radio shows to speak to in their recent media blitz, and how to approach each: understanding the demographics of each show’s audience, preparing for each host’s interview style (agreeable or aggressive? rational or emotional?), and tailoring the family’s message to each.
I’m not sure all of the 75 or so students fully appreciated the insights Jay had to offer; it was a Friday afternoon, of course, and the start of THON was just a few hours away. But I think those who were paying attention learned a bit about what goes on behind the curtain, both for the folks with a financial stake in the multi-billion-dollar business of sport, and for the folks hoping to use the media to tell their story or make their case. In this story, the teachable moments don’t cease.
Ryan Jones, senior 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
About nine months ago, I received an email from Sheila Squillante ’02g, a senior lecturer in Penn State’s English department, and Dave Housley, who works in Penn State’s Outreach department and is an editor at Barrelhouse magazine. They were collecting pieces that had been written about the Sandusky scandal for an anthology, and they had a specific mission. They wanted pieces written by people who are connected to Penn State. And they wanted not straight news accounts or opinion pieces about who’s at fault, but pieces that dug into the emotions of the situation. They eventually came up with a title: Notes from Inside a Burst Bubble: Penn Staters on the Penn State Scandal.
I was honored to contribute a piece I wrote for this blog, about how sociology lecturers Sam Richards and Laurie Mulvey ’94g addressed the issues in SOC 119. I’ve been eagerly waiting to see what other pieces would turn up in the anthology, and the time is drawing near.
Squillante and Housely couldn’t find a traditional publisher for the book, so they’re raising funds to publish it themselves. They’ve set up this page on indiegogo to solicit donations because they want to donate any profit to RAINN, and that wasn’t possible on some other platforms. You can go there to donate; every little bit helps. They need to raise $2,000 to cover expenses, and as of Monday morning they’re at the $1,200 mark.
The Daily Collegian did a nice piece on why the book matters; Squillante called it a “document for people to make sense of what happened.” Among the contributors are Squillante, her English 15 class, Housely, and Michael Weinreb ’94, who often writes for us and who wrote insightfully and movingly about the scandal for Grantland.
If you’re interested in contributing, I know that the editors—and the writers, including me—would be grateful. None of us are making a dime. But it’s important for the voices of Penn Staters to be heard, and of course RAINN is doing valuable, vital work. Here’s a way to support both.
Lori Shontz, senior editor
Saying he was acting on behalf of Penn State students and alumni and the citizens of Pennsylvania who were being punished by the “unlawful and overreaching” actions of the NCAA, Gov. Tom Corbett on Wednesday announced a federal antitrust lawsuit being brought by the commonwealth against the collegiate athletic governing body for the sanctions handed down last summer in the wake of the Freeh Report.
It was an unusual scene late Wednesday morning at the Nittany Lion Inn, an on-campus location chosen despite the university having no involvement in the suit (you can read Penn State’s official statement on the lawsuit here). The governor took to a podium flanked by a few dozen people, former Nittany Lion football lettermen, local business people, and current student-athletes and student leaders among them. He praised Penn State’s role in educating the state’s citizens and providing a major economic engine, acknowledged the awful nature of the crimes committed by Jerry Sandusky and the ongoing prosecution against former university administrators, then posed the question (more…)
On a sparse stage with only a few folding chairs as props, students in Charles Dumas’ Theatre 208 class set out to tell their sides of the story. In “We Are… A Student Perspective of The Sandusky Scandal,” Thursday at the Pavilion Theatre, students performed monologues, which they wrote, depicting student reactions to the events of the past year. Some scenes enacted portions of the grand jury testimony and public statements from Joe Paterno, Graham Spanier, and Sandusky himself.
Before an audience of students and community members, the actors, none of them theatre majors, talked about the “heartbreak” upon learning Joe Paterno was fired, dealing with the onslaught of opinions on social media, and feeling both “ashamed and empowered by our pride” at public gatherings like the Nov. 11 candlelight vigil.
In one powerful scene, actors wore white masks to portray Sandusky’s victims. The audience was silent as actors read graphic details from victims’ real testimonies as other masked actors tossed a football in the background. Slowly, a masked man in a Penn State windbreaker lead each actor backstage, throwing his arm around their shoulders and patting their backs as they walked.
A major theme in all of the monologues: the media’s unfair portrayal of Penn State students, especially after the Nov. 9 riot, in which a news van was tipped. A few scenes depicted students having to defend themselves after being labeled as supporters of Sandusky and child sexual abuse.
“We had to bear the burden of some of the most heinous acts in human history,” explained one actor. “But it made us become more of a family, and we’re moving closer to closure.”
Mary Murphy, associate editor