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Graham Spanier Ousted as Penn State President

As the dominoes continue to topple from the fallout of the Jerry Sandusky scandal, the Penn Sate University Board of Trustees has announced that Graham Spanier no longer fills his role as University President, effective immediately. Executive Vice President Rod Erickson will fill in as interim President.

Spanier, 63, succeeded Joab Thomas as the 16th university president on September 1st, 1995, and has held the position since. Over his 16-year tenure, he has become involved in a variety of different committees and organizations, ranging from education to athletics.

His most notable legacy is hard to specify, as the University has expanded greatly under his leadership, most notably the creation of the Schreyer Honors College and the addition of several modern and updated education buildings, including the College of Science of Information and Technology, a merger between Penn State and the Dickinson School of Law, and the recently completed, state-of-the-art Millennium Science Complex.

He was also a founder of Internet2, was a key contributor to the University Corporation for Advanced Internet Development, and was the first university president to sign a deal with Napster to halt illegal file sharing by students. Moving beyond education, Spanier was also actively involved in athletics, as he chaired the BCS’ Presidents’ Group, and serves as the chair of the NCAA Board of Directors, both prestigious positions that may now also be in jeopardy.

Even with these accolades, not even Spanier was able to dod ge the fallout from the scandal, as he was widely criticized for reacting slowly, without much direction, and for employing a variety of curious public relations strategies.

At a time when Penn State needed leadership, Spanier was absent. As the University moves forward, it does so without him, the highest-ranked University member to be ousted thus far in what is quite possibly the most reprehensible episode of Penn State’s 156-year history.

Spanier later released this statement through Penn State.

It has been my great privilege and honor to serve Penn State for more than 25 years, including the past 16 as president. I have said before that the position I occupy is the dream job in American higher education, and I am proud of what we have all done together to advance our programs, support our students, and enhance pride in our institution.
Our great university has been rocked by serious charges against a former coach. The presentment by the Attorney General describes acts that should never be tolerated or ignored. I was stunned and outraged to learn that any predatory act might have occurred in a University facility or by someone associated with the University.

I am heartbroken to think that any child may have been hurt and have deep convictions about the need to protect children and youth. My heartfelt sympathies go out to all those who may have been victimized. I would never hesitate to report a crime if I had any suspicion that one had been committed.

The acts of no one person should define this university. Penn State is defined by the traditions, loyalty and integrity of hundreds of thousands of students, alumni and employees.

Penn State and its Board of Trustees are in the throes of dealing with and recovering from this crisis, and there is wisdom in a transition in leadership so that there are no distractions in allowing the University to move forward.

This University is a large and complex institution, and although I have always acted honorably and in the best interests of the University, the buck stops here. In this situation, I believe it is in the best interests of the University to give my successor a clear path for resolving the issues before us.

I will always value the wonderful relationships that I have developed with the many thousands of Penn Staters, community leaders and members of the higher education community throughout the country. I will continue to serve the University in every way possible and celebrate the greatness of Penn State.

About the Author

Greg Pickel

Content Contributor for all things Penn State and member of the Pennsylvania Sports Network.

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