Trustee Joel Myers Proposes New Paterno Statue
It’s been 18 months since the Joe Paterno statue last stood in the shadows of Beaver Stadium, but a least one Penn State trustee (and undoubtedly several of the alumni trustees) hope to see the former coach honored once again in bronze, but perhaps in a different location.
During a speech at Friday’s Board of Trustees meeting, Myers proposed building statues of Joe Paterno and Fred Lewis Pattee, the author of the Penn State Alma Mater and the first professor of American Literature, in front of the campus library.
“Now is the time to consider creating a statute of Fred Lewis Pattee and Joe Paterno on the front steps of the library, to emphasize the importance of libraries and learning,” Myers said. “Now is the time to put the ‘we’ back into ‘we are.’ “
The location of the original Paterno statue, since President Rodney Erickson ordered it be removed in July 2012, has not been made public, although most guess it is in a university storage garage somewhere in town. The proposition is an interesting juxtaposition for Myers’ detractors. Of course, Myers was on the Board in November 2011 when it voted to fire Paterno, and activist groups have gone back and forth with the longtime trustee in the media about their displeasure for that decision (among others).
Myers has felt the collective ire of these activist groups more than once, and alluded to that dissent during the rest of his remarks.
“Now is the time for Penn State to come together as one community. To quote Abraham Lincoln, a house divided against itself cannot stand,” Myers said. “Now is the time to celebrate the good of the past and not have negatives to have a lingering grip on holding back our future…Now is the time to acknowledge that as long as we fight among ourselves, the world will pay more attention to our conflicts than they will to our accomplishments.”
Joe Paterno’s son, Scott, Tweeted soon after Myers’ remarks: “Costly problem with Joel’s statues in front of the library plan – Paterno references both Dad and Mom. So, you would need three statues.”
He added later, clearly unappeased, “Joel makes a compelling case for term limits with his speech.”
Of course, this proposal is unlikely to come to fruition any time soon — or at least while President Erickson is still calling the shots. Penn State’s president had this to say on his decision to remove the statue in 2012.
“Coach Paterno’s statue has become a source of division and an obstacle to healing in our University and beyond,” he said. “For that reason, I have decided that it is in the best interest of our university and public safety to remove the statue and store it in a secure location. I believe that, were it to remain, the statue will be a recurring wound to the multitude of individuals across the nation and beyond who have been the victims of child abuse.”
Myers has a tough reelection battle ahead of him this spring if he decides to seek another term on the Board. In any case, few inside the Penn State community would argue that a statue in front of the library that he paid for would be anything but a fitting tribute to the former coach.
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