UNIVERSITY PARK — Peter Russell hit the books Sunday evening at the other Penn State landmark bearing Joe Paterno’s name.
Hours earlier, the statue of the late football coach outside Beaver Stadium came down, ending weeks of speculation about its future.
A statement released Sunday by university president Rodney Erickson answered similar questions about the future of the Paterno Library.
In the same statement confirming his orders to remove the statue, Erickson confirmed the library’s name will remain unchanged.
That was good news for Russell, a Penn State junior, and other students studying Sunday evening in the facility.
“I think it’s the right thing to do,” Russell said. “That’s his money that he donated.”
The longtime head coach and his wife, Sue, gave $4 million to Penn State to help fund construction of the library.
Erickson, in his statement, said the facility “symbolizes the substantial and lasting contributions to the academic life and educational excellence that the Paterno family has made to Penn State University.”
Penn State student Kaitlyn Brett, however, questioned how the university could decide to keep one and not the other.
Brett, of Johnstown, who said she did not support the removal of the statue, said “they might as well level the library.”
While Erickson said the statue became “a source of division and an obstacle to healing,” he made a strong distinction between it and the library.
“The library remains a tribute to Joe and Sue Paterno’s commitment to Penn State’s student body and academic success, and it highlights the positive impacts coach Paterno had on the university,” he said in the statement.
“Thus I feel strongly that the library’s name should remain unchanged.”
Michael Souder, and his wife, Michelle, both 2001 Penn State graduates, were in State College on Sunday to see the statue one last time.
While they were disappointed by its removal, they were hopeful the library would keep its name, because it focuses on education.
“That represents something totally separate from the football program,” Michael Souder said.
In the statement confirming the library’s name will remain, Erickson said “Penn State is defined by our actions and accomplishments as a learning community. Penn State has long been an outstanding academic institution and we will continue to be,” the statement said.
Penn State student Evan Josephson, who was leaving the library Sunday evening, said Paterno played a positive role in improving academics, not just football.
“He (Paterno) had a generous heart,” Josephson said. “He did do a lot.”
Matt Carroll can be reached at 231-4631. Follow him on Twitter @Carrollreporter