Town talk: Penn State's leader tackles the tough questions

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Let's give Penn State University President Rodney Erickson credit for facing up to angry alumni this week -- but not too much credit.

Having revealed, in an interview with Post-Gazette reporter Bill Schackner, that he will step down at the end of his two-year contract, Mr. Erickson could have avoided confrontation, but instead he scheduled three town hall-style meetings, the first one in Pittsburgh on Wednesday.

The former provost was named president after Graham Spanier resigned, on the same day that football coach Joe Paterno was fired over a child sex abuse scandal involving his former assistant coach, Jerry Sandusky. Mr. Erickson is out to soothe the concerns of graduates on whom the university relies for donations and good will. He seemed forthright and did not duck tough questions.

He also divulged the terms of his contract and said Penn State will not oppose the release of employee salaries if the state's Right to Know law is revised.

These are positive steps, but Mr. Erickson can do more. He should advocate for removing Penn State's exemption from the open records law, essential to his pledge for greater transparency. Tough questions remain, and Mr. Erickson can best serve his university by answering them fully.


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