Take the state of Pennsylvania and draw the two diagonals. Where they cross is the small town of State College, home of the Pennsylvania State University. I first traveled to Penn State in 1989 on an interview trip. We went to dinner at the only nice restaurant near campus. The conversation turned to Joe Paterno, Penn State football coach. The waitress, a Penn State undergrad, said "Oh, you mean God."
As many of you know, Paterno and Penn State president Graham Spanier were fired last week in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky child sexual abuse scandal.
I have a certain affinity for Penn State.I have worked with researchers there from experimental economics to pure logic and they have a number of people there connected to my NEC days. I have been back to that campus several times most recently in the spring of 2010. The changes in those two decades have been amazing.
Quite a bit of new building on campus and off. There are now a number of nice restaurants near campus. There are plenty of new buildings on campus too including a beautiful IST (Information Sciences and Technology) building that houses the IST and CSE departments. Just in theoretical computer science, Penn State made some recent strong hires and had a rare double PECASE win of Adam Smith and Sean Hallgren.
Paterno helped build the Penn State brand through football which he coached at Penn State since I was a toddler. Paterno also knew that Penn State meant academics as well, he had a large number of academic all-Americans on his team and donated money for a library on campus that bears his name. Spanier build on this brand to develop real growth in the university and the town it lives in.
Paterno and Spanier should have done more to protect the children but I hated to see them leave under these circumstances. They have both done much for Penn State and not just on the football field.