Rich in Success, Rooted in Secrecy

Ann McClure's picture
Wednesday, November 23, 2011

One of the great paradoxes of the Penn State scandal is evident on the face of Graham B. Spanier, the university’s ousted president.

“You know how he’s got that prizefighter’s nose?” said Michael Oriard, an associate dean at Oregon State and a close friend. “It’s from his father breaking it for him several times.”

Spanier earned academic renown with research on family relationships. Oriard said he has seen his friend lose his composure just once, after witnessing one child hurting another. A man like that, then, might be keenly attuned to protecting the powerless, the downtrodden, and Spanier’s defenders say he is.

Yet he and other administrators have been blamed for failing to act to stop Jerry Sandusky, a former assistant football coach who has been charged with 40 counts of child molestation, including rape. Two top Penn State administrators were charged with perjury, accused of lying about what they knew about Sandusky. Spanier and the university’s iconic head coach, Joe Paterno, have not been criminally charged, but on Nov. 9 Spanier left his job and Paterno was fired.

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