AC Election Candidate Question

By May 12, 2016news

In the interest of helping alumni make an education vote, on Tuesday, May 3rd we asked each candidate for Alumni Council the following question:

Alumni Association opinion surveys shown that an average of 85% of alumni members strongly agree that Penn State should publicly recognize Joe Paterno for his service to Penn State. In your opinion, what should be the role of the Alumni Association in the 50th anniversary of the Grand Experiment this September?

We asked this question because the university and the Alumni Association have been promising to do this for some time now, but claimed to be waiting until the time was right. There doesn’t seem to be a better time than the 50th anniversary but both the university and Alumni Association have declined to recognize the event.

How we contacted candidates: Since the Alumni Association won’t provide any contact information for the candidates, we contacted them via the Alumni Association directory. The seven candidates we are endorsing have contact information next to their names, please contact them with any questions you might have.

Who didn’t respond to question:
Brian Binkley
Ned Brokloff  (unsure question still relevant)
Lynn Kennedy Cruser (no listing in the Alumni Association directory)
Todd Dietrich
A Michael Erdman

Fran Parisi
Mark Poblete
Andi Dempsey Schletter
Liana Trigg
Christopher Saello (out of office)

Ed Bardella, ’85 Engineering

We should honor Joe by honoring all the players that were part of the Grand Experiment. They are all alumni, so our Alumni Association should be a part of the celebration. Not doing anything is the wrong thing to do. Joe always said “It’s never too late to do the right thing”.

David S Cavanaugh, ’76 Landscape Architecture

I believe that the Alumni Association should take a very strong position in publicly recognizing Joe Paterno for his years of service to Penn State. I feel that we should go beyond what he did for Penn State but also for all he did for academics through out the college world. He was a role model for integrity. His legacy was wrongfully tarnished and showed be fully restored.

Benjamin Clark ’13 Business

As a proud Penn Stater and third generation Nittany Lion, the pride, community, selflessness, and enthusiasm that embody our great university are ingrained in me. Steadfast in my Penn Sate pride, and long before my decision to run for Alumni Council, I have always considered myself to be an advocate for the University, and an ally to all my fellow alumni.

As a senior, I was the Council of Commonwealth Student Governments President and represented over 35,000 students. In that role, my goal was to appreciate the varying perspectives and to build unity among our future alumni across all of Penn State’s campuses.

In my opinion, Joe Paterno did many great things for Penn State. I fully support any and all future efforts by the University and the Alumni Association to honor and celebrate his legacy at Penn State.

Bill Cluck, ’82 Liberal Arts

Tell the truth! That’s all we seek.

The question I have been asked to address is what role, if any, should the Alumni Association play in the 50th anniversary of the Grand Experiment this fall. The quick response is whatever role Sue Paterno would like them to perform.  Notwithstanding an apology from the old guard BOT and AA execs, I would advocate it is time to attempt to build some bridges among the alumni and its association.

Recently, the Lion’s Paw Alumni Association determined to award the prestigious Lion’s Paw Medal to Franco Harris.  Previous recipients include Joe and Sue, as well as Ridge Riley, Ross Lehman and John Black.  Established in 1965, the Lion’s Paw Medal honors persons who have contributed notable service to the University, especially by fostering its worthwhile traditions or enhancing student life.  As a member of the Lion’s Paw Medal Committee, it was a stimulating debate before the committee voted in favor of Franco.  Many believe awarding the Medal to Franco will start the process of healing the divide between the alumni and the University.  The Medal will be presented at the All Alumni luncheon in June.

The next step in the healing process is to recognize the contributions of Joseph V. Paterno to the University.  The 50th anniversary is a perfect event and time to recognize his role in the success of the University.

Clearly, a special issue of the Penn Stater would be appropriate.  Unless there is a full and complete apology from the old guard BOT and leadership of Alumni Association Council, I would limit participation to the new exec director and encourage a sizable donation to Paterno Fellows and Special Olympics.

Kristin Larson Crossland, ’91 Edu

Thank you for reaching out to me on behalf of your advocacy group. I appreciate the opportunity to share my thoughts on how our Alumni Association could participate in honoring our most dedicated honorary alum Joseph Vincent Paterno ’73 h on the 50th Anniversary of the Grand Experiment.
My first suggestion would be to recognize Joe’s years of dedication and unwavering support to Penn State by honoring him as one of our distinguished alumni which is the highest award the Alumni Association bestows. Currently this award stipulates that the recipient must have been a traditional alum but I believe that the council could amend this description to include honorary alumni. I am willing to support other ideas that your advocacy group would like to suggest.
The Grand Experiment under Coach Paterno’s leadership in my opinion lead directly to the commitment and loyalty that our alumni have to the University. We are the largest dues paying alumni association for this reason. We are proud that our student athletes strive for excellence in their academic fields as well as on the playing fields. His ethics were of the highest standards and as third generation alumna, parent, and educator I expect the same from my fellow alumni, children, and students.
In closing, I agree that the Alumni Association should publicly acknowledge the legacy of Joe Paterno and the Grand Experiment.

Elizabeth Haas, ’80 Communication

This unintended delay has allowed the Executive Committee of the Penn State Alumni Association to put forward a request to the University that The Grand Experiment be celebrated in the fall, and that the Alumni Association be permitted to take a lead in that celebration, with SuePa’s consent. I was happy to see that letter, as published by Onward State, because my stance is that the Alumni Association absolutely should be taking the lead in this. We will have the opportunity to coordinate an appropriate celebration, and the power to communicate our plans through our social networking and Alumni publications.

While the details of this celebration have yet to be fully fleshed out, as a Council Member I will volunteer my time and effort and serve on any committee I can to be part of this appropriate and worthy anniversary. I believe the Alumni Association is in a unique position to restore our coach to the “full honors” that he deserves, and this will be my attitude, if elected. In fact, this will be my attitude even if not elected.

According to that letter, 91% of alumni responding to a recent national alumni opinion survey agreed that Penn State should publicly recognize Joe Paterno for his service to Penn State. I don’t hear that as a suggestion. I hear that as a mandate.

Both my daughters graduated from Penn State. Unlike their parents, who studied in the Pattee Library, they gained their insight and wisdom in the Paterno Library. Joe and Sue Paterno’s legacy goes far beyond football. It is time for us to set the record straight about the impact this one man and his family had on our university. “We Are” because he was.

Serving on the Alumni Council is a high and serious privilege. To give back to the university that gave my entire family an outstanding education and molded us into the men and women we are today is my one desire. I ask for your vote, and assure you of my dedication and love for all things Penn State. I will approach my time of service with an open mind and heart to the concerns of all alumni in an effort move us forward into a future that indeed is bright and free.

C Jay Hertzog, ’68, ’70, ’72 Education

In my opinion, the RIGHT THING TO DO is to pay tribute to “THE GRAND EXPERIMENT” that melded athletics and academics in the collegiate environment. No coach at the time or since has paid as much attention to the academic side of college as did Coach Paterno (how many coaches have a Library named after them?).

Therefore, it is with PRIDE that I stand firmly in favor of having not only our Alumni Association, but all of the Penn State Community, designate Saturday, September 17th, the 50th anniversary of the start of the “Experiment,” as Joe Paterno Day, I support returning the statue to its rightful location outside the stadium and will encourage the Nittany Nation to push for naming the stadium/field – Beaver Stadium and Joe Paterno Field…and here’s why I support this position:

It was during the spring of my sophomore year (1966) when it was announced that Rip Engle would be retiring as head football coach at PSU and that his assistant, Joe Paterno, would become the new head coach…JOE PATERNO!!!!! Who was JOE PATERNO???? We all knew he was one of the assistants, but HEAD COACH!!!! You gotta be kidding.

I recall going to the games in the fall of 2016 during JoePa’s first year and seeing him on the sidelines, pacing back and forth with those rolled-up khakis, Coke bottle glasses and a white shirt with a Penn State necktie thinking: “This guy is in over his head…why did we hire HIM!!!” Then, during that year, I became friends with Mike Reid, a standout offensive lineman on the team and started hearing about how “Coach” was encouraging the players to be the best students they could be; academically, personally, and athletically. This approach became known as “The Grand Experiment,” and did it ever work. Not only did Penn State’s players excel on the field, they also excelled in the classroom…”Coach” wanted his “men” to graduate and be productive members of society, not just fodder for the NFL.

Kelley Lynch, ’87 Finance

It is interesting, when I went to Penn State I didn’t know of the “Grand Experiment” or its origin. I just knew “Success with Honor” and how that motto was embedded in our culture at Penn State; I have referenced that saying and belief in my life ever sense – which is probably one of the reasons for my sustained love and loyalty to Penn State. I can’t remember if I learned that it was Joe Paterno who started this “experiment” while I was in college or after I had graduated, which goes to show you how much that attitude was ingrained and Penn State. And I remember thinking how cool it was that this expectation started by our football coach!!

One of the reasons I am running for Alumni Council is to assure that alumni have and know of ways to stay engaged with each campus, the students, the faculty and other alumni. I do agree we should/need to honor Joe Paterno and what he did for our great university. I also think it would be a great opportunity for alumni to participate with the planning and executing of any events; and I would think the Alumni Association would be involved. Reminding the world what the Grand Experiment was and is to this day and the “revolutionary thinking” from our football coach to introduce and champion this mission should never be forgotten.

Admittedly I am not the most creative thinker when it comes to “event planning,” so I think surveying alumni and others for ideas would be most appropriate. The honoring needs to go beyond a presentation at a football game (which could definitely be included).

My only “disclaimer” would be, I don’t know what I don’t know. I would hope the Alumni Association would be able to participate/sponsor/endorse these activities. And I would definitely support the Association’s participation; obviously I just don’t know if there are any potential restrictions. Not saying anything can’t be discussed or changed if there are; I just don’t know what those processes would be. But hopefully I will be elected to the Council and learn!

Judy Barkus Meehan ’87 H&HD

My first reaction to this question was “How could anything possibly be enough?”  I have this overarching feeling that whatever is done must be exquisite.  Anything that is perceived as being for show would add insult to injury and the pain suffered by this family, so it would be critical that plans be made in consultation with Sue and the Paterno family.
Rather than making Joe a distinguished alum, maybe Sue could be named an honorary coach!  I truly feel that the essence of teamwork in their marriage had to be a big part of Joe’s success!
Anything done to include players would need to be exclusive of all the players and the breadth of achievements made by those Joe coached over those many years, vs highlighting select few.
I am guessing that the family might have an idea to preserve Joe’s legacy or further the work that he did in his unique way. Something like this Success with Honor award may have potential for expansion, and that may be where PSUAA comes in (
I don’t know how the tutoring and academic support services work now, but perhaps there is a way to establish awards or a scholarship in that arena? It seems integral to Joe’s work.
I like the idea of a commemorative Penn Stater. Research on the numbers of degrees earned, academic honors achieved, athletic milestones made and those kind of highlights over the decades would be a great read. Quotes from greats from State would be worthy of a book.  Andre Collins was telling me about his excitement for Joe’s team meetings. It was so neat to see his eyes light up talking about the passion that Joe inspired.
This also feels very well suited to something on the field when the former players come out at half-time. Perhaps they could all wear black shoes, white socks and khakis!  And might we make one game per year one in which a portion of those darn expensive commemorative cup sales go to a charity of the family’s choice?

John Page, ’80 H&HD

The first step should be that the PSAA should reach out to Sue Paterno and the Paterno Family to understand what role (if any) she/they would like the PSAA to play. I believe that at a minimum the PSAA should acknowledge the many many contributions of Joe and Sue to our Alumni, our University and to the state of PA. The Paterno legacy truly lives on in the thousands of lives that he help guide both directly and indirectly. Joe Paterno’s “GRAND EXPERIMENT” lives on today not only in football but within the great and consistent success both on the field / court / mat / ice of all Penn State Athletics coupled with our CONSISTENTLY HIGH graduation rates and the ability of Penn State athletes (and Alumni) to succeed in LIFE. For this, each of us should be eternally proud and appreciative.

John Perate, ’96 Business

I would say that I am certainly part of the 85% that feel that Penn State University should and must recognize JoePa for all that he has done.  I believe that you start with the statue, and whether it is placed at the stadium, or in front of the library…makes no difference to me, but they are both logical and permanent spots that represent one of the many positive aspects of Joe’s legacy.  In his honor, I would like to see the university promote a 50 greatest achievements over 50 years “campaign” for lack of a better word, showcasing all that he did for the community and the university (both academics and athletics).

Thomas Range, ’89 Science

I think the university as a whole and the Alumni Association especially should recognize Joe Paterno’s contributions to the university. At a luncheon at our last council meeting, the topic at our table was just that. At the very least the statue should be no longer held in a secret location and be displayed somewhere on university grounds.
I don’t believe the statue should have been taken down in the first place. As I stated at the luncheon, I thought we are in America and you are innocent until proven guilty. It seems that Paterno was guilty of nothing and the school succumbed to outside pressure.
I actually have two pictures of the statue in my upcoming book “Picture Postcard Series: The Pennsylvania State University” due out in September. I was limited to 200 postcards but I wanted to make sure information about the statue was in the book. One of the captions states that I believe the statue will be re-erected soon.
I have written two other history books about Penn State, so I know full well the wonderful contributions Paterno gave the university and to us all. I was blessed that he wrote an introduction to my first book, “The Penn State Blue Band: A Century of Pride and Precision”.
I was especially blessed when I got to meet him as a student when I was President of the Blue Band way back in 1988. Coach Paterno was a one of a kind man and the university owes him a debt they can never repay.

Tracy Riegel ’85 H&HD 

As you may know, the leadership of the Penn State Alumni Association sent a letter to President Barron, Board of Trustees Chairman Keith Masser and Mrs. Sue Paterno on May 4 “strongly encouraging the members of the Board of Trustees and the University Administration to join together with the Paterno family to develop an appropriate plan to honor Joe Paterno” and his accomplishments by September, 2016.  In addition, the leadership stated that the “Penn State Alumni Association stands ready to assist this endeavor in any way possible and will gladly host a meeting with President Barron, Chairman Masser and Sue Paterno”.   The letter goes on to say that the PSU AA “will welcome the opportunity to facilitate the appropriate recognition for Coach Paterno’s contributions to Penn State during the 50th year anniversary”. If elected,  I will fully support the leadership in this endeavor.

Jeffrey Reyes, ’10 IST

I believe Joe Paterno was an amazing figure for our University. I often think of him and appreciate all that he’s done for the local State College community and overall Penn State community more than I can recall him being our head football coach. As a former Penn State Lion Scout and prospective student liaison, I was keen on sharing stories about his generous contributions to expanding the University library system, his mentorship of student-athletes and relationship building with their families, and his ability to build character and discipline in his players. There was a reason that our football team had one of the highest graduation rates among FBS schools in the NCAA for so many years, and I believe Joe Paterno’s “Grand Experiment” was the stalwart force in maintaining that standard of excellence. Everyone around him was inspired by and led by his example to constantly grow as smart and genuine human beings, and I think people should acknowledge the many years he had influenced society for the better.
Seeing that this is the 50th anniversary of the Grand Experiment, I think the Alumni Association has a great opportunity to recognize the accomplishments of not just JoePa but those he had a direct impact on as their coach. While there is an overwhelming majority of alumni members who agree that Penn State should publicly recognize Joe Paterno’s service to Penn State, there is still a large number in scale who disagree, and I do want to be cognizant of those folks as well. I think the Alumni Association could take a prudent yet effective approach at showing recognition by running a campaign, event, or publication focusing on the achievements of the students who graduated under his tutelage: in this case, the “real” results are shown and known, and Coach Paterno humbly receives credit where credit is due with a lessened emphasis on his methods to get them there. Hopefully these case studies and stories would then inspire others to carry on such success in their personal and academic lives, no matter what generation or status they are as Penn Staters. Ultimately this is just one idea that I came up with myself in response to your inquiry, but I would be open to other thoughts and opinions and trying to incorporate them into the best solution all around.
That being said, it is that kind of balanced perspective and thinking that I would like to bring to the Alumni Council. I truly do care about all Penn Staters, and I am determined to prescribe ideas to not only preserve the traditions and accomplishments that make our University great, but to also recommend solutions that will drive even more of these successes forward. Whatever I can do to create opportunities for Penn Staters to strengthen their skills, their passions, and their communities, I will pursue these actions and vouch for these initiatives; I have done this from a THON perspective as the President of the Dance Marathon Alumni Interest Group (DMAIG), I have accomplished this from an academics perspective being on the Board of Directors of the College of Information Sciences and Technology (IST) Alumni Society, and I will strengthen and expand support for other important areas of focus if given a position on the Alumni Council.

Samuel Settle, ’12 Liberal Arts

I believe that the Alumni Association, first and foremost, exists to serve its members by empowering them to support and be involved with Penn State today. This means recognizing what parts of the University had, and continue to have, the greatest impact on our current and former students.

No one in my lifetime had as great an impact on as many Penn Staters as Joe Paterno. More than just a football coach, he was a symbol of what we love about PSU: Generous, kind, humble, yet committed to excellence.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of his first game as Penn State’s head coach. The Alumni Association should not miss this opportunity to honor Paterno’s legacy—and to do so in a way that ensures it will continue to have a positive impact on future generations of Penn State students. I suggest that the best way for the PSAA to commemorate Paterno is to encourage local clubs to hold “Paterno Memorial” scholarship drives in his honor, and to incentivize those clubs by promising to match them dollar for dollar.

In this way, we not only honor Paterno’s legacy as a coach, but also as a generous patron of the arts and sciences—a man who built libraries and endowed scholarships. Let’s not just honor Paterno’s past legacy. Let’s make sure it has a future.

John Shaffer, ’88 Communications

No one name epitomizes all that Penn State stands for more than Joe Paterno. This one man and his Grand Experiment helped turn Penn State from a sleepy college in central Pennsylvania to the world class university we all know today. To not honor Joe Paterno in some fashion on the 50th anniversary of the beginning of the Grand Experiment would be a travesty.

I suggest, at the least, the Alumni Association fights for the return of the statue outside the stadium. I’d also like to see a commemorative edition of the Penn Stater, dedicated to the 50 years of the Grand Experiment.  However, the biggest honor is that Joe Paterno’s Grand Experiment lives on today, in the hundreds of thousand of alumni who’ve passed through the gates of “Dear Old State” to become productive members of society. And, for that, I’m sure “JoePa” would be proud.


William Scruitsky, ’86 Liberal Arts

The association’s role should be one of recognition and endorsement of the 50th anniversary of Joe Paterno’s Grand Experiment.  While I have not thought about specific recognition and endorsement details I have contemplated some rudimentary ideas.  First, at a minimum, the association should issue a strong statement recognizing the significance of the Grand Experiment, specifically identifying how it has, and still does, benefit individuals, Penn State University, and the community.  Second, individual stories should be publicized that specifically show the Grand Experiment in play and extending well beyond the football field. Franco Harris’ entrepreneurship is an example of one such story.  Third, in a prominent and inspiring way during a football game this fall, the association should present to Sue Paterno an official recognition on behalf of all association members of how her husband’s experiment has succeeded.  Fourth, this event-based recognition of the Grand Experiment should be conducted at other Penn State events (sports, graduation, etc.).  My fifth means of recognition is the most ambitious.  I believe the association should encourage other collegiate associations and institutions to adopt the tenets of the Grand Experiment; the immense benefits of it are readily apparent and should not be kept to ourselves.  Only yesterday I was reading a “feel good” story about a collegiate football player’s personal drive to overcome academic deficiencies.  While the young man should be applauded, the major university that successfully recruited him failed in its responsibility to academically help the young man succeed off the football field.”

Robert Taylor

I agree with the majority of the alumni who fill [sic] that Joe Paterno was a great man that should be honored by the University.

Gene Whetzel, ’69 Liberal Arts

While I understand that the Great Experiment was about football, I think it encompassed an approach that Coach Paterno fostered throughout the University–integrity and excellence are compatible goals. In that regard, I also believe that his contributions to Penn State went well beyond success on the football field.

In answer to your question, I would support efforts by the Alumni Association to recognize Coach Paterno’s contributions to Penn State.

Carl Williams, ’92, ’95g

I think the 50th anniversary celebration is too soon with Jerry Sandusky procedures still in the news.