Not time yet to honor Paterno, Penn State's new trustees chair says

New trustees chair Keith Masser (second from right) with (from left) board consultant Greg St. Claire, member Paul Suhey, and lawyer Steve Dunham.
New trustees chair Keith Masser (second from right) with (from left) board consultant Greg St. Claire, member Paul Suhey, and lawyer Steve Dunham. (ED HILLE / Staff Photographer)
Posted: January 20, 2013

The new chair of Pennsylvania State University's board of trustees said Friday that the time had not come to honor Joe Paterno, who died of cancer nearly a year ago after being forced from his job as football coach in the child-sex abuse scandal involving one of his former assistants.

"There will be a time and a place to do that, and I don't think that's right now yet," said Keith Masser, a Schuylkill County potato farmer, who was voted in as chair at Friday's board meeting.

"I don't have a time line," he added. "I just don't think it's right now."

Masser's comments came at a news conference following the board meeting during which two of the 32 members made impassioned speeches in support of Paterno and called on the board to find a way to honor his legacy.

"Joe Paterno's contributions to this university can never be erased, and he will never be forgotten," said Anthony P. Lubrano, a longtime Paterno supporter, university donor, and businessman from Glenmoore, Chester County. "You cannot cover up 61 years of success with honor."

Many of those in the packed trustees room stood and applauded. Board member Alvin H. Clemens, a senior partner at Agility Partners L.L.C., a business technology company, also praised Paterno for his emphasis on academic and athletic excellence.

None of the other board members responded. They moved on to other items on the agenda.

The majority of the board has been reluctant to deal with calls from some alumni who continue to champion Paterno. An investigative report commissioned by the board found fault with Paterno for failing to do enough to stop Jerry Sandusky's abuse after a graduate assistant reported seeing the former assistant coach assaulting a young boy in a campus shower in 2001.

The university subsequently removed a 900-pound statue of Paterno from outside Beaver Stadium. University president Rodney Erickson called the statue "an obstacle to healing our university and beyond."

Trustee Stephanie Nolan Deviney, an Exton lawyer who was elected vice chair, agreed with Masser that it was not time to honor Paterno.

She pointed out that the university remains in negotiations with victims of Sandusky, who was sentenced to at least 30 years in prison for abusing boys on and off campus.

"That would be a big reason," she said.

Also at the meeting, the board approved plans for a $39 million, two-building project at the Philadelphia Navy Yard. The goal of the university-led project, launched in 2011, is to find ways to reduce energy consumption in regional commercial buildings 20 percent in eight years. The buildings are expected to be completed in 2014.

The board also announced the formation of a committee of faculty leaders, students, alumni, and administrators who will help choose the next university president. The committee will be chaired by Ann Crouter, dean of the College of Health and Human Development. Daniel Hagen, immediate past president of the faculty senate, will be vice chair.

Contact Susan Snyder at 215-854-4693 or or follow on Twitter @ssnyderinq

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