07/20/2012 05:48 pm ET | Updated Sep 19, 2012

Keep the Paterno Statue But Change the Message


Joe Paterno's life has become a blot upon the history of Penn State, my undergrad Alma Mater. Now, there are calls to remove the statue of Paterno on the grounds of Penn State.

It might be easier to remove the statue altogether. But it would be even better to keep the statue and change the message.

The message should be emblazoned on the statue and on the wall nearby, that Paterno's hubris led him to do wrong. His need to win and his attempt to maximize his fame led him down a path that hurt others. The message should state that as a powerful leader, he failed to do the job he should have done.

Poets should be invited to add their words. Sports announcers who are outraged by Paterno's behavior should have their words etched in metal plaques that are clearly shown.

Paterno was a hero to Penn Staters. He still is to some. Keeping the statue but drastically changing the message could be a major part of the healing process for Penn State and its Students and alums, taking an active step that acknowledges Paterno's and the school leadership's wrongs. There should be a ceremony that will get national attention, one in which the new message, that Paterno and the University lost their way, is told.

Paterno's story is sad. He was revered as a hero and leader. It was his failure as a leader that has permanently destroyed his legacy and place in history. Such a fall is rare and a re-labeling of the statue can, at least, establish a message about hubris and failure to lead and fulfill the responsibilities that come with power.