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For The Kids, Not For The Glory

“For The Glory.” Those words ring hollow now given our increased understanding of how the most powerful men at Penn State put their and the institution’s reputations above the welfare of children. Today the phrase seems an ugly epithet, one with a painful history still unfolding.

Currently Penn Staters across the country, legion in their blue and white, face friends and coworkers, trying to explain this place that we still love. I’m not sure we can yet, though. The moral compass that defined Penn State for so long has been shattered and we have been tasked with reassembling the pieces.

Penn State cannot exist for its own good. Perhaps once ‘For the Glory’ could be taken as an appropriate guide for how we should act, but not anymore.

Back in November, a number of Penn State administrators reached out to the student body with words of encouragement about the still-nascent scandal. Hank Foley, Vice President for Research, offered these thoughts, with one passage in particular sticking out to me:

At THON the motto is “For the Kids,” or FTK. For me it will be “for the kids” from now on and all the time. This is how it must be now. When I hear “We Are” my reply will be “For the Kids.” As I looked out my office window yesterday at our students on the lawn in rank and file in front of Old Main, not in protest, but amassed to mark 100 days before THON, it looked to me like a vigil and I thought, yes, for the kids, indeed.

The words are simple, but their meaning is not. For The Kids describes much more than how Penn State students view THON. It is a direction for making decisions, an imperative to consider the future and not just our own glory. It is a reminder of where our university failed, a memorial to the kids whose childhoods were irrevocably damaged due to the action and inaction of our leaders.

Like Hank said, Penn State must be “for the kids” from now on and all the time. This is how it must be now.

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Here is a copy of my presentation and prepared remarks from WordCamp for Publishers 2019 in Columbus.

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