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The Penn Stater Daily — Sept. 23, 2013

From news to features, your daily dose of everything Penn State.

All sorts of science: Penn State researchers are making news in disparate and fascinating ways. Postdoctoral fellow Angela Brant is credited with the hunch that has led to new findings about the brain’s ability to learn new skills well into adolescence; Nobel Prize-winning glaciologist Richard Alley has co-authored a study confirming the discovery of an estuary—the first of its kind—under the Antarctic ice sheet; and Ph.D. candidate Joshua Stevens has come up with a pretty cool map showing nearly a century of Bigfoot sightings across North America.


September 23, 2013 at 12:48 pm Leave a comment

A Giant Comes Down

The setting seemed somehow appropriate: a cold, blustery Friday on a nearly empty campus, the timing and conditions meaning that few were there to see the tree come down. This was probably for the best.

Early Friday morning, an OPP crew began the bleak work of removing one of the two iconic American elm trees that flank the front of Old Main. Planted in 1933, the huge trees were as vulnerable as any at University Park to the spread of elm yellows, which, along with Dutch elm disease, has claimed hundreds of campus trees in recent years. Campus experts decided recently that the tree on the east side of the Old Main entrance was too far gone and no longer safe to leave standing.

No one who has spent time at University Park needs to be told of the elms’ symbolic and nostalgic value. A new one will go up in front of Old Main, eventually. But it won’t have the history. This giant will be missed.

Ryan Jones, senior editor

March 10, 2012 at 2:07 am 2 comments

More Joe, From—and For—the Students

There’s a nice story this morning from the AP quoting Scott Paterno ’97, ’00 about his father’s thoughts and mood in the final days of his life. It likely won’t surprise Penn Staters to hear that Joe’s mind was sharp and his spirit strong even as his body failed him. “He was so positive and so confident at the end of his life that the things that were important about this place would endure,” Scott said. “And that’s why he was at peace. That, and (that) my mother was willing to put up with him all these years.”

Two stories today speak to Joe’s love for Penn State, and its students in particular. Mike Poorman ’82 writes at about the countless interactions Paterno had with undergrads during his time in Happy Valley. Poorman, who taught “Joe Paterno, Communications & The Media” for four years in the College of Communications, took informal polls each semester and tallied the numbers:

“Out of nearly 250 kids in class from 2008-2011, 107 had a personal JoePa moment. We’re not talking football games or pep rallies or THON appearances, all awe-inspiring for tens of thousands of students. We’re talking students being invited into Joe’s house after singing carols, or sitting down at the Creamery with a Peachy Paterno ice cream cone while the treat’s namesake did the same.”

It’s a terrific piece.

There’s never been any doubt how students felt about Paterno. That admiration will be reflected Wednesday with a student-organized “Guide Joe Paterno Home” event encouraging all Penn Staters to line the route of the funeral procession Wednesday afternoon as it leaves the Pasquerilla Spiritual Center for the private burial service. Onward State has details here, and there’s a Facebook group set up as well.

Ryan Jones, senior editor

January 24, 2012 at 9:59 am 2 comments

More Recommended Reading: Preliminary Hearing

If you’re trying to get a handle on the last-minute announcement that Jerry Sandusky ’66, ’71g would waive his preliminary hearing, you’re not alone. I’ve spent part of the afternoon monitoring Twitter and checking out various news organizations’ coverage, and here’s what’s caught my eye:

Adam Smeltz ’05 of provides a good synopsis here, and the New York Times, which obviously has a broader audience, does something similar here on its college sports blog, The Quad. This MSNBC video, featuring investigative reporter Michael Isikoff, is also good, although the studio host mangles the pronunciation of Bellefonte.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette talked to a couple of defense lawyers who are baffled by the strategy of Sandusky’s lawyer, Joe Amendola ’70. ESPN’s Lester Munson, a lawyer and journalist, gets into more of the details here, with everything from how the preliminary hearing can benefit the defense to whether the defense will eventually request a trial by judge, not jury. There’s a video of Bob Ley speaking with legal analyst Roger Cossack at the same link.

Dan Wetzel, a columnist for Yahoo Sports who has weighed in early and often on the scandal, has what might be one of the first opinion pieces published; he says that Sandusky’s late decision “put the accusers through the wringer.”

And while I don’t love everything that Deadspin does, this piece on the morning’s events is a really good read.

Please let us know in the comments if you’ve found other worthwhile stories.

Lori Shontz, senior editor

December 13, 2011 at 5:45 pm 4 comments

On Jay Paterno

I’d been wanting to write about Jay Paterno ’91 since I met him back in 2007, when I was covering the first Penn State Football Fantasy Camp for The Penn Stater. The idea finally came to fruition over this spring and summer, and my profile of Jay appears in our Sept/Oct issue—you can download a PDF of the feature here.

Two things had me convinced Jay would make an interesting subject for a feature. The first is that, among his college football coaching peers, he’s something of a renaissance man. He’s a writer, with a regular column on and a couple of novels in the works. He’s also politically active, having stumped for Barack Obama during the 2008 presidential campaign—and he hasn’t ruled out the possibility that he someday might run for office himself.

Mostly, though, I was intrigued by how polarizing a figure Jay is for a lot of Penn State football fans, particularly the small but vocal segment who can’t seem to stand him. Indirectly, those folks helped inspire the story, so it’s no surprise that some of them have strong opinions about the story itself. Over the past week or so, I’ve skimmed the messages boards on Blue White Illustrated, Fight on State and Lions 247, where our story was discussed in a handful of posts. To answer the most colorful accusation I found there: No, we were not “put up to” the story by the Paterno family—but it was fun to imagine Joe Paterno calling our office for something like that. Alas, I’m guessing he’s got better things to do.

Whether or not your thoughts on the subject are similarly conspiracy-minded, we’re curious what you think of the story, and the rest of the issue. Feel free to leave comments below, or on our Facebook page.

Almost forgot: The great shot of Jay walking in Beaver Stadium comes courtesy of Bill Cardoni, who shoots quite a bit for us. Needless to say, he’s a terrific photographer. You can find more of his work here.

Ryan Jones, senior editor

September 1, 2011 at 8:42 am 4 comments

Summer Reading List: Patrick Chambers Version

It’s generally pretty tough to find college basketball stories in early June, but there’s been some awfully good stuff written about Patrick Chambers, Penn State’s new coach. Here’s a selection of some of our favorites:

Dave Jones of the Harrisburg Patriot-News provides some excellent analysis (as always) in this column, and Philadelphia Inquirer columnist Bob Ford weighs in with this piece. And Mike Poorman of takes a truly original angle here.

And it wasn’t just local media. My former colleague at The Daily Collegian, Dana O’Neil, who now covers college basketball for, weighs in here on why she thinks Penn State’s hire is a good one. Mike DeCourcey of The Sporting News is equally impressed in this piece. And here’s Jeff Eisenberg of Yahoo, detailing how getting stabbed was the first step in Chambers’ journey to Penn State.

One final link: The take from Boston, where Chambers had been coaching at Boston University.

Lori Shontz, senior editor

June 9, 2011 at 9:02 am Leave a comment

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