Dear President Barron,
Civility and respect go hand in hand. Many of the alumni have felt the Board's attitude toward us has been very disrespectful -- in other words, not civil.
After the Board's decision to accept the NCAA sanctions, the alumni were told to "move forward" and the Board attempted to use new football coach Bill O'Brien and the football program as a means of divisiveness, with their ONE TEAM - MOVING FORWARD sloganeering. In other words, those who didn't go along were labeled as being unsupportive of the football team and new coach. It was a false argument, as many of the alumni, myself included, continued to support the football team while we tried to understand the reasons behind the Board's decisions.
The Board and the University has been less than forthcoming in releasing information about the decisions made in response to the Sandusky scandal. As a result, alumni like Ryan Bagwell and William Cluck have taken the step of making legal filings using the Right-To-Know laws with various agencies who interacted with PSU during the scandal to learn what happened. And WE ARE learning.
In response to questions about the firing of Joe Paterno, the Board co-chairs issued a statement (in an email sent on January 12, 2012) that falsely stated legendary Coach Joe Paterno was not fired from Penn State and remained a tenured faculty member. In April, ESPN printed a story that included a copy of Paterno's termination letter which was dated November 16, 2011.
On April 6, 2012, then Board Chair Karen Peetz sent out an email referring to grassroots groups of alumni who formed to find out more about the decisions as "dissident groups." The email also stated that the "ESPN article not helpful."
These are just two examples (that I could readily find at 3:59 AM) of many that show the PSU Administration and the Board reneged on their promise of "openness and transparency" -- which has proven to be the biggest lie of all.
Like you, I too wish that those with differing opinions would treat each other with respect and have civil discourse. Unfortunately, history (and emails) show that some of the leaders on the Board do not have the same values that caused our great University to rally around the words, "We Are Penn State."
When value systems are not in alignment, a leader has no choice but to remove those individuals who do not share the values of the University. I learned that not only through my 25 years in management, but when I went back to PSU for an MBA from 2006 to 2008.
As Jim Collins wrote in Good to Great, the most important decision a leader can make is who is on his leadership team. To wit:
"Get the right people on the bus, the wrong people off the bus, and the right people in the right seats."
It's time for you to get "the wrong people off the bus."
Raymond M. Blehar
Smeal MBA Class of 2008
Life Member, Penn State Alumni Association