Posts tagged ‘Sue Paterno’

A Lovely Day for a ‘Metamorphosis’


Walking up the mall toward Pattee Library a little before noon on Thursday, you could hear the beat of a semi-recent pop hit coming from speakers set up under a crowded white canopy. The song was “Crazy,” followed in short order by the Prince classic “Let’s Go Crazy.” If you were paying attention, you knew the titles weren’t coincidence, but part of a theme.

Madness was the theme of the fourth annual Penn State Marathon Reading, which kicked off Thursday at noon. I hung out at the tent for the first hour or so Thursday, both to catch the headliners, and to make my own five-minute contribution to chipping away at Kafka’s The Metamorphosis, the opening book.

As she has since the event began in 2012, Sue Paterno ’62 opened the reading. Before she started, she talked about reading Kafka as an English major “fifty-some years ago,” and, if I heard her correctly, seeing the author’s childhood home on a trip to Czechoslovakia some years later with Joe.

Sue handed things off to women’s volleyball coach Russ Rose (above), who was followed by Susan Welch (below), long time dean of the College of the Liberal Arts, and then State College mayor Elizabeth Goreham. After that came the non-celebrity readers, me included—although I didn’t realize quite was I was getting myself into.

Liberal Arts dean Susan Welch takes her turn with "Metamorphosis"

Susan Welch takes her turn with “Metamorphosis”

I knew in advance that the organizers planned to have readers in multiple languages, including The Metamorphosis in its original German. What I didn’t know was that I had signed up for a time slot in the midst of the grad-student readers who were going to be handling the Deutsche translations. Among them was Katherine Anderson (below), a graduate student in German literature; like all the readers who tackled the book in its original tongue, they added an emotional punch the rest of us couldn’t quite match.

Grad student Katherine Anderson & English department head Mark Morrisson

Grad student Katherine Anderson & English department head Mark Morrisson

Of course, they also made things a bit tricky for those of us (ahem) who had to pick up (in English) where they left off (in German). But it wasn’t so bad. If I want to be able to really immerse myself in Kafka (and one of these days I suppose I should), I can do that on my own time. On this day, the communal vibe of sharing in a good book trumped anything that might get lost in translation.

Ryan Jones, senior editor


September 25, 2015 at 8:13 am Leave a comment

Getting a Read on “Madness,” One Book at a Time

Kicking off Thursday at noon, this year’s Penn State Marathon Reading will feature 10 books united by “madness and psychological themes.” For 24 (or so) hours straight, the normally tranquil lawn in front of Pattee and Paterno Libraries figures to get pretty intense.MARATHON

This year marks the fourth annual Marathon Reading, and after taking part in the first two—we read Catch-22 in 2012 and One Hundred Years of Solitude in 2013—I can vouch for this being a really cool event. I’m still kicking myself for missing last year’s marathon read, which introduced the theme concept with readings of famously banned books Brave New World, The Handmaid’s Tale, and Fahrenheit 451. Sarah Denes of the School of Languages and Literatures, which co-hosts the reading, says a theme event gives readers and curious listeners alike the chance to “come and sit for maybe an hour and hear an entire reading.”

Whether you’re reading, listening, or (ideally) both, the marathon reading is a group effort. Denes says 328 people read at last year’s event, most for just five or 10 minutes at a time. Exceptions include the classes that drop in as a group—meaning each student might only read for two minutes—and the hearty bibliophiles who stick around for the overnight stretch. Denes says that last year, “there was one person who read for 25 minutes at 4:30 in the morning.”

I’m not quite that enthusiastic—or, well, crazy—but I’m excited to read during daylight hours on Thursday, hopefully while the opening book, Kafka’s The Metamorphosis, is still underway. The marathon is set to end early Friday afternoon with Henry James’s The Turn of the Screw, and like nearly all of the titles, you can expect to hear it both in English and at least one other language. Depending on when you show up, you might hear Kafka in German, Lu Xun in Chinese, or Camus in French.

Oh, and if you’re there Thursday afternoon, you might also recognize some of the readers: President Eric Barron and women’s volleyball coach Russ Rose are both set to read in the opening few hours, not long after we kick things off with the event’s now-traditional opening reader, Sue Paterno.

Ryan Jones, senior editor

September 23, 2015 at 9:02 am 1 comment

The Penn Stater Daily — Feb. 28, 2014

Get better soon, Sue: Thinking this morning of Sue Paterno ’62, who was injured in a fall Thursday. A family spokesman says she’s been hospitalized for observation and that her “attitude and resolve are great.” Here’s to SuePa being back on her feet soon.

That time of year again: Saturday is State Patty’s Day, and there’s been plenty of talk and activity leading up to the infamous annual event. The facts: many local landlords are banning parties on their properties, State College police are proactively discouraging large gatherings, and 34 of 35 downtown establishments that serve alcohol have agreed to stay dry for the day, with those businesses compensated by the university.

As for opinions, well, there is no shortage of those, including many who feel town and campus authorities are overreacting. More compelling, I’d argue, are these takes from Dennis Shea, associate dean in Health & Human Development, and an EMS worker who has worked the holiday as part of local ambulance crews. Both lay out just how ugly and dangerous State Patty’s Day has been at its worst. Here’s wishing everyone in town and on campus a fun, and safe, weekend.

Winning words: Congrats to Anna Orso on winning the 2014 Hearst Foundation sports writing award. A Penn State senior and Daily Collegian alumna currently writing for, Orso won for a story on college football recruiting published in the College of Communications’ in-house publication. It’s her second win in the national college journalism competition.

The stages are set: If you’re near Philly or Pittsburgh next weekend, Penn State musical theatre students are headed your way. The Alumni Association is sponsoring a traveling showcase of current Penn State theatre standouts in King of Prussia on Friday, March 7, and in Pittsburgh on Saturday, March 8. Tickets are just $10 for Alumni Association members. Should be a fun night out.

Hot hoops: The Nittany Lions swept their season series with No. 22 Ohio State on Thursday, posting a 65-63 win over the visiting Buckeyes. It was a great atmosphere for Senior Night at the BJC. And speaking of great seniors, Lady Lion star Maggie Lucas has been named a semifinalist for the Naismith National Player of the Year award.

Ryan Jones, senior editor

February 28, 2014 at 11:20 am Leave a comment

100 Years of Reading, in About 24 Hours

English professor Chris Reed introduced the book as a “perfect” choice for the format, because “the plot’s not really the point. You can walk away for a while and come back, and pick it right back up.” Sue Paterno ’62 took the podium for the first reading, apologizing in advance for any of the Spanish names she might mispronounce. And then she dove right into One Hundred Years of Solitude, the subject of the second annual Penn State Marathon Reading.

Sue Reads

The classic of “magical realism” by Colombian author and Nobel Prize winner Gabriel Garcia Marquez, One Hundred Years of Solitude seems an appropriate follow-up to Catch-22, which kicked off this new tradition last fall. Like Catch-22, Marquez’s book is filled with absurdity, humor, and characters with memorably (and sometimes confusingly) colorful names. And of course, like Joseph Heller’s classic, it uses all those tricks to open (and occasionally blow) its readers’ minds.

The event kicked off at 1 p.m. Thursday and is expected to continue through early Friday afternoon, or however long it takes for the hundreds of volunteer readers—students, faculty, local luminaries, and yours truly, at 7 a.m. Friday—to get through it. Late-night pizza, early-morning donuts, and lots of caffeine were supplied to keep things moving. If you stop by the reading—you can’t miss the tent set up in front of Pattee/Paterno Library—you might hear passages being read in the original Spanish; there were copies available in French and what I think was Mandarin, as well.

As a participant, I hope this is the second Marathon Reading of many. What a fun thing to be a part of.

Ryan Jones, senior editor

September 5, 2013 at 6:48 pm 1 comment

The Paterno Family Responds


Sue Paterno (right) on the Katie Couric show on Monday, Feb. 11.

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, 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 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, 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

February 11, 2013 at 6:30 pm 24 comments

First Impressions of ‘Paterno’

Two things to start, before I get into some of the details of Joe Posnanski’s biography of Joe Paterno:

  1. Joe Posnanski had an impossible task.  As he wrote before the book was published this week, he confronted an unprecedented challenge: writing a biography of someone who was suddenly engulfed in a national scandal—one that upended his reputation—and then died a few months later. I can’t imagine a worse scenario for a journalist.
  2. Joe Paterno was a complex, complicated guy—far more so than most of what’s been written about him would suggest. That includes my own work in two stints as a beat writer covering the team, and that’s been true since well before the Sandusky scandal broke. Paterno was tough to get close to.

Posnanski doesn’t shy away from either point. I admire that. (I should also note here that I’ve known Posnanski for years; we’ve shared press boxes and meals and a few jokes together. He’s a good guy.)

But if this isn’t the book Posnanski signed up to write—with the Paterno family’s explicit cooperation—in 2011, it’s also not the definitive account of Paterno’s life. It’s too soon for that book.

There aren’t any blockbuster revelations, and the choicest new details, about Paterno sobbing the day after he was dismissed, about how his family had to force him to read the grand jury presentment, about the “I Hate Jerry Sandusky Memo,” made their way into the media quickly through excerpts.

And, honestly, most of what was in the book, I already knew.

But keep in mind that I covered my first Penn State football game, for The Daily Collegian, in 1988, and that I’ve followed Penn State football and Paterno not only because I love college football and I’m a Penn State alum, but because my job required it. I’ve read every book written about Joe Paterno, even Joe Paterno: The Coach from Byzantium by his brother, George.

Some Penn State fans, I’m sure, will feel the same. This book covers a lot of familiar territory—far more pages are devoted to Paterno’s rise and his glory years than to the Sandusky scandal and aftermath, or even to the down years of the 2000s, which have been less well chronicled and deserve (I could say, need) a more full accounting. Posnanski is a lyrical, poetic writer, and he tells those familiar tales beautifully. He adds a few choice details. I expected nothing less.

The chapter about Rip Engle was terrific; I know a lot less about Engle than I do Paterno, so I found that particularly interesting. (Awesome tidbit: Engle didn’t like to say that a player “cheated” a step or two to one side in anticipation of a play, even though that’s totally legal, so he had players “fudge” instead.) I appreciated the occasional one-liners from Paterno family members, as well, including this gem from Sue, noting that their son David’s engineering aptitude certainly didn’t come from his father: “Joe couldn’t fix a sandwich.”

In State College, even the grocery stores are selling the book.

Posnanski also does an excellent job showing the toll that the pursuit of excellence can take on family life; particularly when Paterno is designing his new defense in the late 1960s, Sue and the kids are on their own.

It does, however, take a long time to get to the new stuff, and those parts of the book aren’t as richly reported. There’s a chapter on Paterno’s relationship with Jerry Sandusky that clearly spells out the differences between the two men and the fact that they weren’t friends; I think this will come as less of a revelation to anyone who’s followed the program closely, but that chapter is a good read. Scott Paterno, son and lawyer, and Guido D’Elia, friend and marketing genius, wrestle with the presentment and its aftermath; anyone who cares about Joe Paterno will be sad as they read those scenes.

Posnanski eventually recounts a conversation between himself and Paterno in which the coach asks for the writer’s take. Posnanski doesn’t let him off the hook; he tells Paterno he should have done more because “you are Joe Paterno. Right or wrong, people expect more from you.” Elsewhere, he writes, “It is certain that no one, Paterno included, was aware enough, courageous enough, or decent enough to stop a man who would be found guilty of forty-five counts of child molestation.”

Most reviews, however, have found Posnanski’s portrayal, as Dwight Garner of the New York Times called it, “breezy and largely sympathetic.” Rich Hofmann of the Philadelphia Daily News calls it neither a “prosecutor’s brief” nor a “full-throated defense.” Beat writer Mark Wogenrich ’90 of The Morning Call in Allentown provides a great framework for understanding the book using an anecdote about Paterno’s recruitment of John Cappelletti. Guy Cipriano, the new beat writer for the Centre Daily Times, writes that Posnanski “whiffs” on this book because he didn’t make the most of his exclusive access to Paterno, and that’s a take well worth reading, too.

There aren’t many new insights here, but Posnanski does raise some fascinating ideas. At the end of a chapter in which he recounts both Joe’s courtship of Sue and then-Oakland Raiders coach Al Davis’ courtship of Joe (he wanted Paterno to be the offensive coordinator), Posnanski writes:

“She had fallen in love with State College the first day she arrived on campus as a student, and though Joe did not know it yet, the rest of his life would be guided by her vision. Joe was cocky, ambitious, principled, smart, consumed by football, and determined to win; those qualities and others would make him a great football coach. But he would become a legend by seeing the world through Sue’s eyes.”

Now that’s something I’d like to know more about. You can learn a lot about someone by understanding their relationships—particularly the choice of a life partner—and breaking down the Paterno marriage would have been insightful. But that thread is never picked up. And it’s not the only one.

In a few places, Posnanski zeroed in on the contradiction that I’ve never been able to understand: How was it that a man who spent his life preaching the value of education, preparing his football players to live a productive life away from the football field, wasn’t able to walk away himself and enjoy the other facets of his own life?

In recounting the program’s struggles in the early 2000s and Paterno’s refusal to consider retirement, Posnanski writes, “So why go on? Why keep coaching? There is no shortage of theories, but no one can know the depth of another man’s heart.”

I’m sure I’m not alone in wanting to know a least a little more. Perhaps in another decade or so, enough time will have passed that more reporting can be done. For now, this book is as close as we’ll get.

Lori Shontz, senior editor

August 22, 2012 at 8:38 am 2 comments

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