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A Letter to Our Members

Issued Nov. 11, 2011

My intention in writing to you, our Penn State Alumni Association family, is not to recount the details of the Sandusky Scandal and the terrible fallout that has ensued. You’ve heard about and read about it ad infinitum. You’ve been shocked, sickened, angered, disgusted, embarrassed, and saddened beyond belief. So have every one of us here at the Penn State Alumni Association. This terrible tragedy has left us all hurting for the victims and their families.

This has been the worst week in the University’s 156-year history. Penn State has dealt with terrible budget crises, presidents dying in office, campus shootings, major demonstrations and confrontations. But nothing like this—nothing. It has greatly affected everyone: alumni, students, faculty, staff, and administrators.

We know you are hurting. We have heard from thousands of alumni through e-mails, phone calls, and Facebook posts. Our entire staff is in full response mode, fielding the Tsunami of responses. Some want to sever their ties to Penn State forever. Some threaten us with the course of action they will take if things do not go as they want. Some call wanting to know what they can do, how they can help. Some call to voice their unconditional support and love of Penn State. At root of all of these messages is the fact that our alumni care deeply about Penn State.

Even in the midst of crisis, there is still much to be proud of about Penn State. You’ve seen some of the recent evidence—last year’s No. 1 national ranking by The Wall Street Journal for producing the kind of graduates employers most want to hire; this fall’s ranking by the Times Higher Education World University Rankings, in which Penn State was ranked in the top quarter of the top one percent of all institutions of higher education on the planet; and the No.1 ranking in the number of Fulbright Fellows on our faculty this year.

In the weeks and months ahead, our University needs you. Our alma mater will be counting on alumni more than ever to help it get back on track.  Over the last eight years as your executive director, I’ve seen what alumni do for Penn State in ways far too numerous to mention here.

In the middle of this week, on the lawn of the Hintz Family Alumni Center on a gorgeous fall day, there was a semi-circle of students, talking with their professor, seemingly oblivious to the crisis swirling about them. The work of the University endures.

Make no mistake, Penn State will endure. But we must do much more than that. We must get better, we must improve, we must prosper, and we must lead, once again. Our state, our nation, our world—all are counting on us to do exactly that. And you, our Penn State alumni, are an integral part of that rebuilding.

For the Future,
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Roger L. Williams ’73, ’75g, ’88g
Executive Director
Penn State Alumni Association

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