Penn State trustee Joel Myers calls for library statue to honor Joe Paterno, Fred Pattee

mdawson@centredaily.comJanuary 17, 2014 

— While the statue of legendary coach Joe Paterno remains tucked away in some still-unknown corner of the university, Penn State trustee Joel Myers said “now is the time” to install another one.

Myers, in a unity-themed speech to his fellow trustees on Friday, called for the likeness of Paterno and another icon, alma mater author Fred Pattee, to be placed in front of the campus libraries that bear their names.

“Now is the time for Penn State to come together as one community,” Myers said during his speech. “Now is the time to acknowledge that as long as we fight among ourselves, the world will pay more attention to our conflicts than they will to our accomplishments.”

“Now is the time to put the ‘we’ back into ‘we are.’ ”

Myers said later Friday that was a continuation of the feelings he’s had for quite some time — that the university community has to come together to move forward past the divide that erupted after the Jerry Sandusky scandal.

“For the benefit of the whole community, it’s time to just reduce the level of disagreement and nastiness,” he said, “and let’s all focus on the great things that are happening.

“Some institutions would have been destroyed by what was happened.”

Myers said the Paterno statue idea came to him last week. He envisions Paterno and Pattee — whose eras are decades apart — either shaking hands or standing arm in arm.

“They were from different eras, but they were supportive of the library,” he said.

Myers said the speech was not anything intended to garner support for a re-election bid. Myers said Thursday he had not yet decided whether he’ll seek re-election for the alumni trustee seat he holds.

The alumni group Penn Staters for Responsible Stewardship has been gunning for Myers, because he was on the board that voted to fire Paterno in November 2011 after the Sandusky scandal exploded. The group also wants to oust incumbents Jesse Arnelle and Marianne Alexander, both of whom said Thursday they were undecided on running again.

The reaction to the Myers’ idea on Twitter was varied.

Scott Paterno, a son of the legendary coach, said any Paterno-Pattee statue must include his mom, Sue, in addition to his dad. Both Paternos have supported the campus library.

Others didn’t buy into it and called him to step down, such as the person at the controls of the PSUTruthville Twitter account.

Franklin visits trustees

By coincidence, perhaps, Friday’s board meeting was book-ended with Penn State football coach talk. Myers’ comments about Paterno came toward the end of the meeting, and the new Nittany Lions coach James Franklin made a brief visit when things got started Friday afternoon.

It’s hard to say yet if Franklin dominated the boardroom, as he intends to do with recruiting in Pennsylvania, but he said a few words before having to leave town for a banquet.

“I can’t tell you how excited myself and my family are about being a part of this community,” Franklin told the board. “There is nobody that is going to work harder to make you guys all proud.”

Franklin listened as President Rodney Erickson ran off a list of achievements, such as the women’s volleyball team national title and the wrestling team’s sold-out match at Bryce Jordan Center.

As Franklin left, he made a few brief comments to reporters outside the boardroom, explaining how he’d hit the recruiting trail and was just in Pittsburgh on Friday morning.

He also broke the hearts of lots of kids around here.

He said he’d gotten too much interest — “4,500” offers, he said — to blow up balloons at birthday parties, a comment he made during his introduction at a news conference last week.

He said that while he can’t be at every birthday party, he hopes people understand that he means he wants to be very visible in the State College and Penn State communities.

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