Letter to the editor | Numbers tell the story

December 31, 2013 

There should be no confusion about why we are seeing terrific and encouraging news about a growing and thriving Penn State.

It’s because of outstanding and committed students, faculty and alumni; and it’s in spite of an incompetent and misguided board of trustees (in place in 2011) and others in university leadership positions.

Applications for admission are up 16 percent compared with last year; the university is ranked No. 1 in the country for veterans; it’s the No. 1 place for corporate recruiters to hire employees; it’s No. 7 in median starting salaries for students, ranking above many Ivy League schools; it has the largest student-run philanthropy in the world (Thon, which raises funds to fight pediatric cancer); it’s among the top three for the best professors in 2013; and Penn State has more faculty Fulbright scholars than any other university in the U.S.

Penn State also has the largest dues-paying alumni association in the world. There are 616,000 living alumni.

It was a faculty member who, in January 1983, after the Nittany Lion football team finished No. 1, immediately challenged the board of trustees and set the university on the audacious and challenging course of seeking academic excellence across the board at Penn State.

“I am ready to help where I can to make ‘Number One’ mean more than when we stick that finger up it’s only football.”

The faculty member was the football coach, Joe Paterno.

Quite simply, Penn State needs a new board of trustees and leadership worthy of its extraordinary students, faculty and alumni to sustain a collective pursuit of excellence.

Bradley J. Mitchell, State College

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