Asides: Guide to colleges and a hearing for ex-Penn State officials

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THANKS

to an e-mail from a publicist, we know that the 2014 Fiske Guide to Colleges is available and that four Pittsburgh-area schools are included -- Carnegie Mellon University, Penn State University, the University of Pittsburgh and Washington & Jefferson College. The guide contains commentary about each school. For example, Penn Staters will be glad to read on page 546 that "Penn State students are active, fun and open-minded." But those with an allegiance to Washington & Jefferson, a private liberal arts college in Washington, Pa., might not be so pleased with this thumbnail description (page 750): "W&J is unique in that it's like a mullet: Business up front with a party in the back." Not to pick hairs, but a mullet? Well, at least there's business up front.

PENN STATE was in the news this past week, thanks to the fallout of the Jerry Sandusky child sexual abuse scandal. After a preliminary hearing, a judge ruled that former university president Graham Spanier, former athletic director Tim Curley and former vice president for finance and business Gary Schultz must stand trial on charges that involve what prosecutors called "a conspiracy of silence." The hearing gave rise to one unfortunately memorable quote that called into question the sophistication of Penn State's PR operation. Lisa Powers, the university's director of public information, testifying about reporters' questions in 2010 and 2011, said: "I didn't know what a grand jury was. I only knew it as something that happened with the mafia." Not really.

PITTSBURGH MAYOR Luke Ravenstahl is a graduate of W&J, where he was a kicker on the football team, and probably wishes he was still back there. On Tuesday, two more witnesses -- Ashley Barna, an acquaintance of the mayor, and Debbie Lestitian, a former Stadium Authority chairwoman -- testified before a federal grand jury investigating city business that may be related to the mayor's office. Pittsburghers are left wondering whether this game is in the fourth quarter.

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