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Campus Overload
Posted at 04:20 PM ET, 11/21/2011

Penn State’s lesser-known fallen icons: Spanier, Curley and Schultz


Most people had heard of Penn State football coach Joe Paterno long before university trustees fired him this month amid a child-sex-abuse scandal involving former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky. But not many had heard of the other university leaders whose names have made headlines: President Graham Spanier, Vice President Gary Schultz and Athletic Director Tim Curley.

In Sunday’s paper, my colleagues and I introduced readers to these men, their deep ties to Penn State and the reputations they built. (Sunday’s article) Here’s a little bit more information about those men, along with the accusations they face:


Penn State President Graham Spanier, left, and head football coach Joe Paterno chat before a home game. (AP Photo/Gene Puskar, File)
President Graham Spanier: “An unconventional university president.” Late one night earlier this month, hundreds of students gathered in front of Penn State’s iconic Old Main administration building and chanted things like, “Come out, Spanier” and “Fire Spanier.” Just before midnight, the 63-year-old president slipped out a side door without answering questions. Several people commented that his silence was out of character.

While building Penn State into an internationally known university and leading national discussions on binge drinking, illegal downloading and the threat of terrorist attacks, Spanier also made time to perform magic tricks for students and run around sporting events in the Nittany Lions mascot uniform. His official online biography calls him an “unconventional university president” who has his commercial pilots license and once ran with the bulls in Spain.

“Graham, I mean President Spanier, likes to be really active with students,” said Kyle Harris, 21, a senior public relations major who is a percussionist in the Blue Band. “He was always coming and playing with us.”

A profile of Spanier written by The Chronicle of Higher Education in 2001 declared: “His celebrity status is rivaled here only by Joe Paterno, the university’s legendary football coach.”

Spanier grew up in Illinois, then earned bachelors and masters degrees from Iowa State University and a Ph.D. in sociology from Northwestern University. In 1973, he joined the Penn State faculty and taught classes in human development, family studies, sociology, demography and community medicine. Throughout his career, his research has focused on families and marriages.

He ventured into administration while at Penn State, then held positions at the State University of New York at Stony Brook and Oregon State, before becoming chancellor at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

In 1995, the UNL student body president told the Penn State student newspaper that Spanier was a strong proponent of increasing diversity and protecting the rights of gay students: “Watch out for his social agenda and make sure he doesn’t make it a priority over academics.”

At Penn State, Spanier oversaw 96,000 students and 46,000 employees on 24 campuses, fundraising that collected more than $3 billion, and expansion of the university throughout the state and online. He was among the highest paid university presidents with a total package of just over $800,000, according to the Chronicle. Nationally, Spanier chaired many of the industry’s largest associations, including the Association of American Universities, Big 10 Conference Council of Presidents and NCAA Division I Board of Directors.

“The toughest judges of university presidents are other university presidents. I don’t know anyone who didn’t respect Graham,” said Terry W. Hartle, senior vice president of the American Council on Education. “It’s a tragedy that his presidency ended the way that it did.”

Spanier has not been charged in connection with the arrest of Sandusky, a coach who is charged with sexually abusing eight boys over 15 years. Spanier testified before a grand jury that two administrators told him in 2002 that an athletics department staff member saw Sandusky in a shower with a child. Spanier said he was unaware that the staffer said he saw Sandusky raping the child.

Spanier was fired by the university’s board of trustees on Nov. 9. In a statement, Spanier upheld his innocence and said he would have reported the crime “if I had any suspicion that one had been committed.”

Gary C. Schultz: ”An incredible mentor.” As Spanier was building up Penn State’s academic reputation, Schultz was building up its facilities. In his 14 years as the vice president for finance and business, buildings rose and the university budget doubled. Schultz oversaw several departments, including police, human resources and legal services, and was considered a fair and even-tempered boss.

Schultz, 62, grew up in Pennsylvania, graduated from Penn State, and then spent nearly 40 years working his way up to the top of the administration. When he retired in 2009, his successor told the Daily Collegian: “I've never seen him angry — he's been an incredible mentor.”

Schultz was called out of retirement this summer, when his successor left for a job elsewhere. In September, he and his wife attended the opening of the Gary Schultz Child Care Center, an environmentally friendly building. This week, the letters spelling out the name of the child care center had been removed.

Schultz has been charged with perjury and not reporting child abuse to authorities. He was one of the administrators who investigated the accusations against Sandusky and informed Spanier of the incident. Schultz has returned to retirement, and his attorney said in a statement that he is innocent of all charges.


Penn State athletic director Tim Curley, left, congratulates Joe Paterno for his 409th collegiate win. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
Tim Curley: “The architect of the Penn State Intercollegiate Athletics program.” Curley, 57, grew up across the street from Penn State’s New Beaver Field. As a kid, he worked as a baseball bat boy, parked cars during games and handed out programs. After graduating from Penn State in 1976, he joined the university payroll and worked his way up the chain. His wife, Melinda Harr, is from Sandusky's hometown.

In 1993, Curley was named athletic director and oversaw massive growth of the sports program, millions in donations, 21 NCAA championships and 64 Big Ten titles. The university calls him "the architect of the Penn State Intercollegiate Athletics program."

In June, the National Football Foundation named Curley the country's top athletic director. At the time, the foundation's president said, "Tim Curley is a great leader with unparalleled vision." That honor was rescinded last week.

Curley is also charged with perjury and failure to report child abuse to authorities. Curley's attorney, Caroline Roberto of Pittsburgh, told a group of reporters that he is innocent, and the charges are the equivalent of getting a traffic ticket. She declined to comment to the Post. Curley was put on leave from the university.

Previous coverage:

Penn State scandal provides lessons to university presidents

Eight scandals that ended university presidencies

Penn State pride erodes into agony as Sandusky scandal drapes pall over community

By  |  04:20 PM ET, 11/21/2011

 
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