These last months have been painful and difficult. Our University is besieged from all quarters with an overarching criticism of our culture, ethics and integrity. The Nittany Nation finds itself in narrow straits with few allies and little maneuvering room. A person is not defined by how he acts in tranquil waters and fair weather. A person is judged by how he responds in storms and crisis – so too, will be our University.
We cannot continue to fight internally and win the bigger battle of who we truly are as a University. I understand the visceral anger many feel, recognize the blame many seek to place and sympathize with the calls for punishment and retribution. I understand the total frustration we have felt as the last 9 months unfolded. Nevertheless, history invariably judges fairly and truthfully the events of today. Now, we need to await that judgment. We must resolve our family squabbles later when a full understanding of these events is known. Now, there are more than enough external battles to be fought and won.
Crisis calls for unlikely bedfellows. During the “Cold War” The US and the Soviet Union who had a strategy of “mutual assured destruction” (MAD) were, nevertheless allies against terrorism. Our family cannot continue to expend our psychic energy attacking each other no matter how great our rage. There are sufficient external forces doing that already. Regardless of how we feel about Coach Paterno, the Board of Trustees or the Administration, we all know that we do not want our University torn apart by internal strife. History will reveal what happened here! History will fairly and truthfully judge all of the actors in this Shakespearean tragedy. Now we need to await that judgement and move forward together for our University.
Today – right now- we all need to address the huge challenges facing Penn State. We should conduct ourselves in a manner today that will allow us to look back a decade from now with pride and honor. This will require the cooperation, coordination and commitment from all dimensions of the University. The entire family must engage! From the Board of Trustees to the Lettermen, from the alumni association to the alumni groups, from the students to the faculty and townsfolk. We all need to come together for the Pennsylvania State University to heal, recover and thrive. We need to show the World once again who Penn State truly is and always has been – that we represent a great and noble University with loyal alumni & friends, dedicated and heartfelt students and a staff second to none. We can do this! After all – We are Penn State!
-Ryan J. McCombie