My worst fear

Published April 22, 2012

You might have read today’s article in the Philadelphia Inquirer, which painted one of the leading board candidates in a highly negative light. His alleged behavior is concerning, and should give anyone who’s considering voting for him pause.

But I’m more worried about a huge hit to the reputation of Penn State’s alumni if we elect people who won’t make it their mission to enact sweeping and substantial changes in ethics and¬†transparency. People everywhere are looking to us for leadership, because they’re not finding it anywhere else.

Consider what Patriot-News reporter Sara Ganim recently said before an audience at Ohio University: Penn State’s reputation is still in the toilet, especially outside of Pennsylvania. (I’m paraphrasing, because I can’t find her quote, but I think I saw that observation on Twitter or something). And even many Pennsylvanians don’t think as highly of Penn State as they once did. It’s hard for most alumni to remember that fact.

People across the nation are watching this election. They’re expecting the new alumni trustees to make it their mission to address ethics and transparency starting the day they’re sworn in.

So what are people going to think if the new alumni trustees make it their sole mission to apologize for Paterno’s treatment? How will it look if they postpone tackling ethics and transparency rules for focusing on change that few outside of Pennsylvania demand?

It will make the Penn State alumni look like utter fools, and that under any circumstance cannot happen. We’re Penn State’s only chance at significant change. And if we blow our big chance, we might never get it back.

Just look at some of the comments posted about today’s Inquirer story.

“I think Lubrano typifies all that is wrong with rabid Penn State alum (not all of them are rabid, of course). He will probably win, despite his angry, boorish behavior,” wrote Jen D.

“Penn State has proved itself to be a clown college with clown alumni,” wrote someone who called himself Captain Terrific.

“If the alumni vote for this jerk, it will speak volumes about the ALUMNI,” wrote someone named Workmaster.

I know nothing about the authors of these comments, but to them, Lubrano’s behavior has affected their view on the alumni as a whole. That’s deeply concerning.

We are Penn State’s only chance to make things right. Whoever is elected must provide the change in ethics and transparency that people demand.

But those aren’t the priorities of the leading candidates. Just check out the campaign video posted below.

And I’m fearful that whoever’s elected won’t do what’s necessary.