Penn State’s board of trustees recently conferred distinguished alumnus status on former trustees Joel Myers and Jesse Arnelle.
These individuals’ service to Penn State was indeed distinguished prior to Nov. 9, 2011, when they marred it with their panic and cowardice in the face of a public relations crisis, and rush to judgment. Their false affirmation that Penn State had somehow enabled a child abuser ruined the university’s reputation, and also scapegoated coach Joe Paterno.
Myers and Arnelle then added dishonesty to their poor judgment when they joined their fellow board members in misrepresenting the circumstances of Paterno’s dismissal. They said they fired Paterno for “failure of leadership,” but board Chairman Keith Masser later admitted in a deposition that Paterno was fired solely for public relations reasons. Myers began to redeem himself when he objected to the NCAA’s illegitimate sanctions, but then he chose the easier wrong over the harder right by falling into line with Karen Peetz’s and Masser’s dysfunctional “leadership.”
The fact that the same board just voted to make these individuals distinguished alumni underscores the adages, “To get along, go along” and “suck up if you want to move up.” These adages are also why Al Clemens, the only Nov. 9, 2011, board member to deserve recognition for character and integrity, is the least likely to receive it while Peetz, whose $60 million mouth gave the NCAA an excuse (affirmation of the Freeh report) to impose sanctions, is now an emeritus trustee.
William A. Levinson, Wilkes-Barre