I was disappointed to learn that Penn State’s College of Agriculture selected trustee Keith Eckel as its commencement speaker.
Eckel was in a senior position among the trustees whose rush to judgment against coach Joe Paterno and quite probably President Graham Spanier admitted implicitly and falsely on Penn State’s behalf that the university had somehow condoned, enabled or facilitated the abuse of children on its campus. This resulted in enormous reputational and financial harm to the university.
There is an adage to the effect that somebody who tries to shoot a king had better not miss, and anybody who publicly accuses somebody like coach Paterno of “failure of leadership,” as the board of which Eckel was a member did in March 2012, had similarly better be 100 percent sure of his ground. Board Chairman Keith Masser’s subsequent deposition under oath proved the board 100 percent wrong because he testified unequivocally that the board fired Paterno for public relations reasons rather than anything he had or had not done.
Commonwealth Court Judge Dan Pellegrini criticized the board for failure to challenge the NCAA sanctions, an inaction that Eckel supported. His appearance at commencement is therefore an unnecessary and unwelcome reminder to the Penn State community of his controversial role in the events of the past four and a half years.
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William A. Levinson, Wilkes-Barre