Skip to comments.Remembering Joe Paterno’s 1983 Board of Trustees Speech
Posted on 01/22/2014 8:05:42 PM PST by FlJoePa
Remembering Joe Paternos 1983 Board of Trustees Speech
Ah, but a mans reach should exceed his grasp, or whats a heaven for?
When I visit Joe Paternos gravesite, as I have done on occasion over the last two years when Im in need of some ethereal inspiration or peace, Im always struck by the above line from Robert Browning on his headstone. The message speaks to the profound impact of Paterno as an academic visionary, and theres a specific moment that comes to mind when I think of it.
It was just days after the schools first football National Championship, and Joe Paterno was invited to speak at the Board of Trustees meeting. Most people were expecting him to ask for more funding for football resources or to talk about the successful season. Instead, Paterno delivered a speech critical of the Boards reactionary and conservative governing style (as much as things change ) and pushed the trustees to launch a serious fundraising campaign to strengthen academic units and bring in world class professors. It was a bold move for a football coach at his first Board meeting ever no less to call out his bosses to use the momentum from footballs recent success to build a better university. This speech led to The Campaign for Penn State and the fundraising excellence we have today.
As a friend of mine put it, the vision and passion at work in reality can be so striking and so rare that we end up creating legend to describe them later, because from a distance it seems like they were otherworldly experiencesso rare were they amidst the Sleepy Hollow that forms most of our daily lives. In some paradoxical cases, mythical greatness is first born of actual greatness.
I bring this up today because, as you probably know, it is the two year anniversary of Joe Paternos death. It also happens to be the anniversary of, in my estimation, one of the most important speeches in Penn State history. Rather than write another column its been done already, of course Ill let Joe Paternos words from 31 years ago today stand for themselves.
As visionary as they were at the time, theyre still relevant as ever today.
Joe Paternos Speech to the BOT following his first National Championship
Delivered January 22, 1983 (29 years, to the day, before he passed away)
I very much appreciate those words. You know this is the first Board meeting I have ever been to in 33 years so if I look a little shocked and scared, bear with me, I really do appreciate this. I would hope maybe on this occasion since Ive never addressed a Board meeting, to maybe share some thoughts with you as to where we are and what I hope we can get done here at the University. It pleases me, obviously, to happen to be part of the Number One football team. I am pleased also that it happened at this time in Dr. Oswalds career that he could leave feeling that he finally got it done. Having been a former coach, he knows how tough it is to get on top of the pile and everything else. It pleases me in a lot of ways. But after having said that, and Im going to be very frank with you, and I may say some things here that maybe I should not, but it does give me an opportunity to tell you how I feel and what I want to do and what kind of contributions Id like to make to this institution as I stay on. You know, obviously, all of us are disappointed in the newspaper reports that some of our academic departments are not rated very high. That bothers me. It bothers me to see Penn State football be Number One and then to pick up a newspaper several weeks later and we find we dont have many of our disciplines rated up there with the other institutions in the country. I want to share just a couple of things with you and I hope youll understand where Im coming from.
I think this is a magic time for Penn State. Dr. Oswald has said this, and I have felt it, and I think he is probably more attuned to it than anybody. There has never been a time when Penn State has been more united or proud. Now maybe its unfortunate that it takes a Number One football team to do that. I dont think we can lose the opportunities that this moment presents to us, and I dont mean in athletics. Im not even concerned about the athletic aspects of where we are, I think we can handle that and make sure that we can maintain the kind of teams that you people like to see and you can be proud of and identify with the type of students and the type of football players we get. But I think we have got somehow to start right now. I think Dr. Oswald came to us at a time that we absolutely had to retrench in some areas and he has done a magnificent job for us. I for one want to thank him for what he has done for intercollegiate athletics. We would not be Number One in athletics if it had not been for his cooperation. Every time I ever went to him he never said no to me. Id like to be on record as having said that. Maybe once in a while there has been somebody in between us that has not presented my case accurately, but anytime I have had an opportunity to sit with him and discuss some things that we needed, hes never said no to me. I dont think wed be where we are if it hadnt happened that way. But I go back to a fact that we are in a national situation that I have never felt as I have felt now.
I have been all over the country in the last few weeks. I have been in Florida, been in California, Ive been in airports in Chicago and Atlanta, you name it, and Ive been there recruiting and doing some other things trying to capitalize on the position that you have when youve had success and trying to make some corrections in what we have and the abuses of the intercollegiate program. Some of the thoughts that I have expressedand I dont mean to make this a testimonial of Dr. Oswaldbut he was one of the people that came up with the ideas that we had to raise the level for scholarship. He was one of the Council of the American Council of Education, one of the select committee, that came up with the standards that we proposed out on the Coast and Ive gotten a lot of publicity for having made some speeches out there, but it was Dr. Oswald and some other college Presidents who got together and proposed those standards. But everywhere Ive gone Ive heard nothing but, boy, Penn State, Penn State, what a great bunch of people, what a great institution, and all of those things.
So we do have a magic moment and we have a great opportunity, and I think we have got to start right now to put our energies together to make Penn State not only Number One, but I think weve got to start to put our energies together to make this a Number One institution by 1990. I dont think thats an unfounded or a way-out objective. I think we need some things. I talk to you now as a faculty member. I talk to you as somebody who has spent 33 years at Penn State, who has two daughters at Penn State, who probably will have three sons at Penn State, who has a wife that graduated from Penn State, who has two brother-in-laws that graduated from Penn State, and I talk to you as somebody I think who knows a little bit about whats going on. Who has recruited against Michigan, Stanford, UCLA, who has recruited against Notre Dame, Princeton, Yale, and Harvard and who has had to identify some things that they have that are better than we have and has had to identify some of our problems. I talk to you as somebody that I think knows a little bit about whats going on in the other guys, and I think a little bit about whats going on here. We need chairs. We need money so that we can get some stars. We need scholarship money. We need scholarship money to get scholars who can be with the stars so that the stars will come in and have some people around that can stimulate them and they can be stimulated by the stars. We need a better librarybetter libraries would be a better way to put itso that the stars and the scholars have the tools to realize their potential. We need an environment of dissent and freedom of speech and freedom to express new and controversial ideas. Basically, this Board is in a lot of ways reactionary because you are more conservative than anything else. That is not a criticism of you as individuals, but I think thats a fair criticism of The Pennsylvania State University Board of Trustees for the 33 years that I have known them going back to Jim Milholland who was acting Chairman and President when I first came. We need more controversy, we need more freedom, we need more people to come to us with different ideas, we need more minorities. I am constantly fighting the battle, we dont have enough blacks; we dont have enough minorities everywhere I go, and I dont have the answers to it, but Im giving you some impressions. We cant be afraid, too reactionary to new and disturbing ideas; however, we cant do some of the things all at once. I think that Dr. Oswald and the new President and Ted Eddy, our Provost, have got to sit downIm probably not speaking in turn, Im probably way out of whack, Im probably on a page that I probably shouldnt be on but I feel so strongly about it I want to say itto sit down and put down some priorities. We have some excellent departments. And I know because when I get out in the field we have some excellent departments that can be absolutely outstanding in a relatively short time. We also have some departments that are absolutely lousy and we have lazy profs who are only concerned with tenure and only concerned with getting tenure for some of their mediocre colleagues.
Alright, now Im telling you how I feel about it and I may be all wet. But Ive dealt with all of them, and a lot of these latter groups. Some of these people in the latter group would make Happy Valley Sleepy Hollow if we let them. Its certainly not invigorating. Weve got a new President and I think that he and Dr. Oswald need to sit down and have to probably make some tough decisions.
Pirandello, the brilliant Italian playwrightI suppose brilliant and Italian is redundantwrote a play Six Characters in Search of an Author, in which the characters of an unfinished play come to life and then they try to finish the play. Well, I believe that Penn State has not necessarily all of a sudden come to life. That would be an unfair criticism of all of the great things that have been done here in the 33 years that I have been here. But I think its more alive today than at any time in 33 years that Ive been here. I think its well organized, and I think its got thrust and wants to pursue. Its alive but its looking. I think we are not looking for bricks and mortarand most of you people are businessmenand we are not looking for GSA money. I think we are looking for the soul of this institution. The soul may be an overstatement, but Im not sure Im overstating the case. I think were literally looking for a soul. Who we are, what we are, and I think that basically comes down to soul. We need to find out soul. We need vibrant, aggressive, brilliant teachers and scholars. We have some, but we dont have enough of them and thats why we need chairs. We need to give them the resources to grow and the freedom to challenge some of the old ideas and old conceptions that have made this country backward in a lot of ways, and have made this state the one with the highest unemployment of any state in the northeast part of the country.
Im a football coach. I sit down with my staff and I look at our schedule and our squad and we say this is what we want to do and this is what we can do. And then we set priorities and make decisions as to how we can achieve our objectives. We put a plan together and we stick with it. We dont jump from one plan to the other and we bust our butt to get it done. And thats what has to be done with Penn State in the 80s. We cant wait. It would be nice to say we can wait and in three years put together a major fund-raising campaign. We cant wait. I am only telling you that as somebody whos in the field. We can only hold up our finger as Number One for six more months and then we have to play the game again and we may not be Number One. Six short months to capture this magic moment. We have got to raise $7 to $10 million bucks as far as Im concerned in the next six months or we are going to lose some things and an opportunity we have. How do you go about raising $7 to $10 million is somebody elses concern. Im willing to help in any way I can. We need $7 to $10 million in the next six months to get us the impetus that we need because we dont want to lose it. I think weve got to take this magic moment and stick it in a jar and weve got to preserve it until we open it up in 1990.
Dr. Eddy, the other day at an alumni meeting down at Pittsburgh where we had over a thousand people in Allegheny County. Stan was there and some of the others were there and the next night we went to Westmoreland County where we had over 580 people and they turned away 300 people. There is a great group out there right now wanting to get involved in it. Dr. Eddy said it the other night better than I can. He said, and he almost sounded like a football coach, we have a great chance and challenge to make our University Number One in many areas and in coming together to do it we may find out we will have as much fun doing it as we had fun doing it in New Orleans. It was a very moving speech and it hit home. I have had a lot of people come to me wanting to know how they can help. I said to you I have given 33 years, two daughters, and probably three sons to Penn State. I am ready to help where I can to make Number One mean more than when we stick that finger up its only football. We are losing a great President; were starting a new era. As Jim Tarman said the other night, we are fortunate that where we are that weve been able to get there our way. Weve not cheated, I mean not deliberately, you never know with that thick rule book. Weve done it with people who legitimately belong in college. Weve set a standard in one area that I think created a challenge for us to reach in all of our areas. You are the people who are going to have to help us do it. There are a lot of us that want to get on with it.
So, thank you very much for this wonderful resolution. Im moved. I think you know how much I love this institution and how much I appreciate what it has meant to me and my family for 33 glorious years. 33 years of a great love affair that I have had with this place in this town. I have no regrets. Im only anxious to get on with some other things to make it even bigger and better, not in a sense of size, but in the context of quality and influence in this country and in some of the things that I think its important for a major institution of this size to do. So, thank you very much. I hope I didnt bore you with it too long.
It’s just a stupid game.
>> Im a football coach. I sit down with my staff and I look at our schedule and our squad...”
“... but I avert my eyes from the shower where I know Jerry Sandusky is boinking little boys...”
You da man, Joe. Woo hoo.
Disgusting pedophile enabler.
C’mon boys. Line up and ram your headed into this concrete wall. It’ll make men out of you.
Did you or the other two bother to read the speech? To see that it wasn’t at all about football? Or do you just make a habit of commenting on words you don’t read?
Did you really read MY post?
Whoops...Got distracted DmanA. It’s hard sometimes. My bad.
He managed to deliver on that.
>> Did you really read MY post?
Maybe Joe spent too many of his formative years ramming his head into a concrete wall, and his reading-for-meaning skills aren’t so sharp.
Don’t let Happy Valley become Sleepy Hollow, take a butt-pounding for the team, we need the money.
No matter how the JP worshippers try, his image is tarnished forever. Get over it.
People: There is this feature calling scrolling which will take you past anything you don't want to read online. I suggest you use it.
Notice whenever he posts, it’s a Paterno love-fest? Notice how he never answers questions about why he’s in the Paterno love-fest?
In any event, what I said before stands. Don't like FlJoePa’s posts, don't read them.
>> People: There is this feature calling scrolling which will take you past anything you don’t want to read online. I suggest you use it.
This is an internet forum, fatty. Let me explain to you how that works: everything (OP, reply) is posted at the risk of someone disagreeing and posting their OWN opinion.
That is its reason for being. Get it?
If you Ped State fanbois want to lavish worship at the feet of your pedophile-enabling dead coach without backtalk, then may I suggest that YOU take out a paid ad on Huffington Post. Or your NAMBLA newsletter. Or whatever.
But when you fawn all over that sick bastard here in this forum, you bet your boots I’ll be here to take you to task.
Get used to it.
Were you raised by wolves or by the nanny state? Either way, sounds like you were never given lessons in class.
I didn't know that our system of justice has been replaced by trial by media or forum. Fact is, Coach Paterno was never tried and convicted of any crime in a court of law, so your characterization of the Coach is unfounded.
Yes, we still have at least some freedom of speech in this country. Just remember that that freedom also extends to FlJoe Pa. Again, if his posts upset you, don't bother reading them.
>> you were never given lessons in class
And I guess you missed out on the personal responsibility training. You picked your fatty nick; I didn’t.
>> Coach Paterno was never tried and convicted of any crime in a court of law
Oh, please. His pervert-condoning ass DIED before he could be held responsible for the rape of those young men. Held responsible in this realm, anyway. “GOD is not mocked; whatsoever a man sows, that shall he also reap”.
>> Just remember that that freedom also extends to FlJoe Pa.
Huh? What sort of drivel is that? FlJoePed can say whatever he wants! Explain how I am depriving that pervert lover of his “freedom”? Are you perhaps insinuating that FlJoePed has some sort of “right” to say whatever he wants without anyone expressing their OWN opinion of his “speech”? That’s just laughable ignorance of what free speech is.
>> Again, if his posts upset you, don’t bother reading them.
You are telling me how to use the forum? On what authority? Pack sand, fatty.
I’ll bet you’re the life of the party. What a guy!
By the way, I didn’t know you know how God has judged the Coach. How presumptuous of you!
>> By the way, I didnt know you know how God has judged the Coach.
HE wrote His righteousness down, for all to read. You could drop the Ped State Booster attitude and read about it, if you were so inclined.
And only the willfully blind cling to the fantasy that Coach didn’t know EXACTLY what was going on. He allowed it so as not to upset the football applecart. Meanwhile, untold agony ensued for innocents, driven by Satan himself.
Play your little ignorant games and ignore reality; be aware that your support for Satan WILL catch up with you someday. If you have a conscience, maybe you’ll open your eyes and repent while you’re still here on Earth. If you have a soul — and you do — your day of reckoning may come later. Are you ready?
I don’t know what bible you read. Mine says, judge not, lest ye be judged.
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