Connecticut Valley PSU Alumni Chapter Op-Ed Letter
This letter is being sent on behalf of the Board of Directors in charge of the Connecticut Valley Alumni chapter who submitted a Op-Ed letter to the Hartford Courant, a Connecticut newspaper who has yet to publish our letter. Our chapter is one of many active groups in the nation who stand strong behind Penn State. Here is the letter that was submitted:
The Penn State We Know
Over the past nine months, we have learned about the crimes committed by Jerry Sandusky which were horrific, shocking, and shameful. No one can ever undo what was done to his victims. For Penn Staters everywhere, the fact that it hit so close to home and some of Penn State’s leaders did not do more to prevent the abuses gave us a double dose of outrage and embarrassment.
While it is tempting to find someone or something “big” to blame to fit the crime – sentencing the actual perpetrator to prison hardly seems to be enough – blaming it on the “Penn State culture” and everyone affiliated with the university misses the mark.
The “Penn State culture” is and always has been about trying to do things the right way. It has been about trying to achieve success with honor throughout all aspects of the university, not just a win-loss record on the football field. That some of Penn State’s leaders deviated from this objective is lamentable but does not diminish the virtue of the mission itself. It does reveal, however, how elusive the goal is when decades of good work, high character, and an admirable reputation can be undone in one fell swoop.
The Penn State we know is a place where we learned to succeed with honor in the classroom, the laboratory, the gymnasium, the stage, and in student organizations which prepared us to succeed later in life as professionals and leaders in industry and the community. With over 4,000 Penn State alumni living in Connecticut, we have an active and distinguished alumni chapter that
- Supports our current students – over 500 from Connecticut – by providing a bus service for school breaks, holding an annual freshman sendoff, and awarding scholarships to local incoming freshmen that are funded by the bus service, our participation in Connecticut’s license plate program, and other donations
- Networks at an annual banquet featuring local alumni speakers that have included a forensics expert, meteorologist, physicist, and university athletics director
- Cheers on Penn State student athletes by attending local events in soccer, basketball, volleyball, and gymnastics
- Offers opportunities for cultural and family outings such as Tanglewood and Lake Compounce
- Volunteers locally for organizations including Habitat for Humanity, Foodshare, Traveler’s championship, and the Knox Parks Foundation
The Penn State we know has over 96,000 students currently enrolled and over half a million alumni with the largest alumni association in the world. The university
- Was ranked by employers in 2011 as the top university at which they recruit
- Has been cited by the Times Higher Education World Rankings as being in the top 1% of higher education institutions in the world
- Rates among the top 100 in the nation in African-American, Hispanic, and Asian-American undergraduate degree producers
- Is one of the top research institutions for the US Department of Defense
- Ranks as the top producer of Fulbright scholars in the nation
- Routinely finishes among the top 15 in its athletics programs with student athletes who graduate at a rate about 20% higher than the national average.
- Holds the largest student run philanthropic event in the world which last year raised over $10 million for children with cancer
- Has created the Hershey Center for the Protection of Children
With over 150 years of tremendous accomplishments in teaching, research and service, Penn Staters everywhere understand the mission of succeeding with honor remains unchanged and that events revealed over the past year do not and will not define what it means to be a Penn Stater. The actions of a few do not define the many. We must learn from this low point in our history to ensure it does not happen again. And while we can never erase what happened, we must never forget all that is good about Penn State. For it is the good that will ultimately sustain us and ensure that the Penn State we know and the Penn State you know are one and the same.
Board of Directors, Connecticut Valley Chapter of the Penn State Alumni Association