The report by former FBI director Louis Freeh on the Jerry Sandusky coverup at Penn State raises a number of very important questions for the future of the university. Though the responsible leadership is all gone, it's up to the current regime to repair something that will probably never be wholly repaired.
Thursday afternoon, the Board of Trustees met with the press to share portions of their plan moving forward. There was a lot of talk about new action items and groups and relationships, along with promises to follow Freeh's recommendations moving forward. The Board will also not be resigning despite having played their own role in the scandal, with Peetz saying, "we should've had our antenna up."
As far as Joe Paterno's legacy goes, Karen Peetz called it a "sensitive topic" that "will continue to need to be discussed with the entire university community." She described his "60 years of service" as being "marred" by the Freeh news, while president Rodney Erickson called "the worst things" Paterno did "inexcusable," but insisted we "measure the man's life" by the many good things he did, and called for "reflection and distance" on assessing Paterno as a whole. This is a far, far cry from the "unconditional support" pledged by former president Graham Spanier.
Peetz described the construction of new oversight committees and such, saying the Board "accepts full responsibility for the failures that occurred" and plans to ensure nothing like this ever happens at "our university community ever again."
"We must become a best-in-class standard in governance," Peetz said. "Above all, we must restore trust in our community. We don't expect it to happen overnight. We will earn it back."
Erickson said, "While in no way lessening our own failings, we're committed to bringing greater awareness to abuse." The school has started a new child protection center at its medical school and is partnering with a local anti-rape group, Erickson said.