Penn State Developments
November 21, 2011
Among new developments and articles of note on the Pennsylvania State University scandal:
- Rodney Erickson, who was named interim president last week when Graham Spanier stepped down, is no longer interim. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported that the board has removed the word "interim" from his title, and no longer plans to conduct a national search for a replacement for Spanier. A spokeswoman said: "Under normal circumstances a national search would be conducted over a period of a year or more, with the help of an executive search committee. Under our current situation, which is obviously unprecedented, the board has taken the action to name the president who they believe will lead us forward."
- Michael Bérubé, the Paterno Family Professor in Literature and director of the Institute for the Arts and Humanities at Penn State, wrote an op-ed in The New York Times about Joe Paterno's contributions to academic advances at the university (including creation of the chair Bérubé holds) and the need for a greater faculty role in decision-making such that "shared governance" becomes meaningful at the institution.
- The National Collegiate Athletic Association told Penn State officials last week that it would investigate whether the sex abuse scandal indicates a failure by the university to exercise "institutional control" over the sports program. While allegations of sexual abuse of children might seem outside the NCAA's normal purview of academic dishonesty and improper payments to players, Mark Emmert, the NCAA's president, noted in a letter to Erickson that the NCAA's rulebook contains a broad prohibition against unethical conduct, and cited a specific provision that campus officials must do more than just "avoid improper conduct or questionable acts." They have an "affirmative" obligation, too, the rulebook states; "[t]heir own moral values must be so certain and positive that those younger and more pliable will be influenced by a fine example."
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