UNIVERSITY PARK — Top Penn State administrators fielded students’ questions on the Jerry Sandusky sex abuse scandal Wednesday night, saying the outlook for the university is strong even as it struggles with how to handle the charges and their aftermath.
Applications to Penn State aren’t dropping, fundraising remains healthy and potential employers haven’t shown signs of losing interest in recruiting at the university, according to the answers President Rod Erickson and seven other university officials gave during the two-hour town hall forum.
“There’s a tremendous mix of emotion, a tremendous sense of what a big job we have ahead of us right now, but also a tremendous buoying of spirit that there are so many individuals ... who are saying, ‘We know this isn’t Penn State. We know that you’re going to emerge from this better than ever.
We’re with you. Keep up the good work,’ ” Erickson said.
He said applications haven’t fallen, and are actually ahead of this time last year by 4 percent.
The forum, sponsored by three student government organizations and held in the HUB-Robeson Center, drew more than 400 students who used the better part of two hours to pepper the top administrators with questions about how the university handled the Sandusky scandal, whether the board of trustees has been acting in students’ best interest and how trust in Penn State can be regained.
One student asked how she should deal with feelings of shame.
Vice President for Commonwealth Campuses Madlyn Hanes said the allegations and events surrounding them don’t define the students.
“I would submit to you that we should emerge from this more compassionate and with resolve,” Hanes said. “I think going forward the communities that you will join will benefit from that compassion that you will learn.”
In response to one question, Vice President for Student Affairs Damon Sims referred to his time at Indiana University, where longtime basketball coach Bob Knight was fired.
“Bob Knight and Indiana University seemed to be synonymous with one another,” he said, adding that it wasn’t long after that that the university came to be known for other things, including academic excellence.
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