Not long ago, we told you about the stupidly triumphant internal Sandusky memos that got passed around at meetings of the Penn State board of trustees mere days after the scandal broke. The memos, first obtained by the AP (and now by us), showed the low-IQ spinjobbing you've come to expect from some unaware inhabitants of the Happy Valley snow globe. There was celebratory talk about "taking control of the narrative" and how "No Penn State terms appear on Google's Top 20 search terms for second day in a row." A little premature, no?

There was also a list of talking points given to volunteers reaching out to the school's donors. Clearly, keeping the money spigot open after Sandusky was arrested was among the foremost objectives of PSU administrators, as would be the case at any big school. It just feels so unctuous in this instance, especially when you consider that Penn State is a wealthy school thanks, in no small part, to its football program. Regardless, we now have the memos and, because we are not the AP, will post them verbatim herein. We'll start with the talking points. After that come several e-mails from new PSU president Rodney Erickson to the school's trustees.

The talking points:

Discussing the Recent Events with Penn State Donors

As you reach out to your top donors and respond to e-mails, phone calls, and letters from your other constituents, it is important to communicate clear and consistent messages about the University's response to the crisis and about the role that our supporters can play going forward. The following talking points can serve as a guide in these difficult conversations. If you would like direction on a donor question or issue not addressed below, please contact your unit's development officer.

The legal case and the actions of the Board of Trustees
•The deepest concern of the Penn State community is the physical, emotional, and psychological health of the children who may have been impacted by the crimes alleged in the case.
•Our campuses must be safe, supportive places where young people can grow and thrive, and every step that the Board of Trustees and President Erickson are taking is directed toward that goal.
•We are at the beginning of a long and complex legal process; as a result, we must strive to reserve judgment until that process has run its course.
•At the same time, the Board of Trustees believe that it is vital to take action now to begin restoring public trust in the University.
•They have appointed a special committee to determine what failures occurred, who is responsible, and what measures are necessary to ensure that such failures cannot happen in the future and that those responsible are held fully accountable.
•This will take time, but when the investigation is completed, a full report will be made public.

President Rodney Erickson and his promises to the Penn State community
•Dr. Erickson has served as executive vice president and provost (chief academic officer) of the University since 1999.
•He is a graduate of the University of Minnesota and the University of Washington, and he joined Penn State's faculty in 1977.
•He has publicly committed himself to showing the nation and the world that Penn State cares and that our community will move forward with a shared sense of purpose.
•He has announced five key promises: reinforcing the moral imperative of doing the right thing, leading by example, providing transparency to the fullest extent possible, fostering healing for the victims of abuse and awareness of the issue in our community, and supporting the investigation of the special committee.
•To fulfill these promises, he is appointing a University-wide ethics officer, revisiting all policies to ensure that they meet not just legal standards but Penn State standards, and providing meaningful and timely updates to the entire community.
•His messages can be found at

The response of the Penn State student body
•The disappointing actions of some students on campus and in downtown State College immediately following the Board of Trustees' announcement regarding the status of President Spanier and Coach Paterno reflect how important these leaders have been to our institution and how strongly our students connect their sense of self with Penn State.
•In the days since, thousands of undergraduates have channeled those feelings into more positive actions, including a candlelight vigil for the victims of abuse.
•At the Nebraska game, our student-athletes demonstrated a level of maturity and determination that was an inspiration.
•Penn State students are recognizing that the eyes of the nation are on them, and it's up to them to show what it really means to be a Penn Stater.

The response of Penn State's supporters
•Our alumni and friends are also standing up for the values and the institution that we all believe in.
•The University has received thousands of emails expressing anger and sadness at the allegations and their aftermath, but also expressing the belief Penn State will learn from and transcend this crisis.
•The overwhelming majority of our leading donors have made public statements affirming their faith in the University and its future, including Terry and Kim Pegula, who made the largest gift in our history with their $88 million commitment to launch NCAA ice hockey at Penn State, and Pat and Candice Malloy, who endowed the head football coach's position.
•Students calling donors through our Lion Line program have received new commitments and strong messages of support, and Lion Line just had one of the most successful nights in its history.
•Donors are recognizing that Penn State needs their support more than ever, as we work to rebuild our national reputation for integrity, opportunity, and excellence.

If you hear from a donor who is considering withdrawing past and/or future support
•This crisis has been a moment of introspection for all of us who have served and supported the University.
•Gifts to Penn State represent a permanent commitment to our students, faculty, and programs.
•It has been our institution's policy not to refund gifts, and that policy remains in place even as the Penn State community shares your anger, sadness, and frustration at this complex and tragic situation.
•We hope that those who are planning to withdraw their support will reconsider their decision and regard gifts as an investment in helping Penn State to move forward.

What we can all do to help
•The campaign's top priority-keeping a world-class education within reach for students from every economic background-remains as important today as it was before news of the case broke.
•We need to refocus our attention and our aspirations on what we can do to make this a better, prouder, and stronger institution for new generations of Penn Staters.
•We will continue to pursue the goals and vision of For the Future: The Campaign for Penn State Students.
•You can be a powerful ambassador for the campaign, for our institution, and for our students. Through your leadership and your support, you can show the world what it really means to be a Penn Stater.


My favorite part of that dreck is the bit about how the "disappointing actions of some students" after the trustees canned Paterno and Spanier "reflect how important these leaders have been to our institution and how strongly our students connect their sense of self with Penn State." That's good. We can call use that. No, officer, you don't understand. I might be rioting, but that only demonstrates how strongly I connect my sense of self to my community.


On to the e-mails. We begin with an update from Erickson nine days after Sandusky's arrest. Here's where he talks about controlling the narrative and relays the media metrics he seems to think bode well for the school. All boldface is mine:

————— Forwarded message —————
From: "Ammerman, Paula"
Date: Mon, 14 Nov 2011 18:50:04 -0500
Subject: Update from President Erickson
President Erickson asked that I distribute the below message for your information.

DATE: November 14, 2011
FROM: Rodney A. Erickson
TO: Members of the Board of Trustees

As discussed, it is my intent to provide updates on a regular basis.

•Messages have been sent on Friday and Monday to the Penn State community to reiterate the promises and to ask them to share in their fulfillment.

•Rob Pangborn will be named Acting Executive Vice President and Provost effective immediately. This will be announced publicly tomorrow. His experience and broad knowledge of all the elements of the portfolio will be a stabilizing influence on the deans and vice provosts.

•Conversations have taken place regarding a change in the Acting Director of Intercollegiate Athletics; I am close to a final decision and I hope to be able to share that news with you tomorrow.

•I conducted media interviews with ABC and CBS this morning. The feedback I received has been positive and we are moving forward with the business of educating our students, our primary mission. This is another indication that we are taking control of the narrative of our story.

•Meetings between University Relations and Athletics Communications have taken place to align our messages.

•Counseling and Psychological Services has ramped up its services available for those who may need support due to prior sexual or other assaults. Employees are encouraged to access the services available via the Employee Assistance Program if they have a time of need.

•I met again today with President's Council to receive updates on the initiatives we identified yesterday.

•I also met with the students leaders from Commonwealth Campus Student Governments, the University Park Undergraduate Association, and the Graduate Student Association to encourage their partnership in helping to move the University forward.

A few interesting media metrics that you may find of interest:

—Blogs, tweets, news stories, facebook postings, YouTube videos, etc., on the Internet drop 50 percent from yesterday to today. This is down 90 percent since last Thursday.

—Review of Top 20 search terms on Google today shows no Penn State terms on that list for the first time in nine days.


Update two, in which Erickson talks again about media metrics, which now appear to reflect a loss of control of the narrative:

————— Forwarded message —————
From: "Ammerman, Paula"
Date: Tue, 15 Nov 2011 17:37:42 -0500
Subject: Update 2 from President Erickson
President Erickson asked that I distribute the below message for your information.

DATE: November 15, 2011
FROM: Rodney A. Erickson
TO: Members of the Board of Trustees

As discussed, it is my intent to provide updates on a regular basis.

•Public announcement has been made regarding Rob Pangborn being named Acting Executive Vice President and Provost effective immediately. Strong support has been expressed for this decision.

Yvonne M. Gaudelius, Assistant Vice President and Associate Dean for Undergraduate Education, will assume those responsibilities formerly under Rob's purview, with the exception of Admissions. We're continuing to closely monitor the applications as we move forward.

You will recall that Yvonne served as interim dean of the College of Arts and Architecture in 2006-07 and was named Assistant Vice President and Associate Dean for Undergraduate Education in 2007. She has an extensive background and knowledge in this area and we appreciate her willingness to assume these additional responsibilities.

•Continuing conversations have taken place regarding a change in the Acting Director of Intercollegiate Athletics. That news will be shared with you tomorrow.

•I met with the University Faculty Senate Officers today. They are devoting extra time for me to address the faculty at the next meeting on December 6. A forensic session will also be available for the faculty senators to discuss this topic.

Since our morning meeting, it was announced that a special meeting of the University Faculty Senate is planned for Friday, November 18. The sole agenda item for this meeting is to adopt a statement to express the Senate's sympathy for the victims of child abuse; endorse the independent inquiry commissioned by the Board of Trustees; and express the Senate's commitment to working with the President to restore public trust in our University.

•Personal messages have been sent from deans and chancellors to their constituencies providing reassurance and forward motion of the business of the University. These messages are being well received.

•A letter to students will be sent from Damon Sims, Vice President for Student Affairs, providing support, advising of counseling opportunities, and general reassurance.

•A letter to parents will be sent from Damon Sims with a similar message.

•I have had numerous conversations today with donors and supporters and have been buoyed by their continued commitment to Penn State.

•I met again today with President's Council to receive updates on the initiatives identified.

•I spoke to about 700 students in an afternoon Sociology 119 class. They asked very thoughtful questions about how this will affect future job prospects; how do we relate to people we know that are involved; and how do we keep from rushing to judgment. I believe it is critical to listen to our students and I intend to keep my finger on the pulse regarding their concerns and thinking.

A few interesting media metrics:

—Despite new emerging angles overall Internet buzz and media coverage only increased slightly since Monday.

—No Penn State terms appear on Google's Top 20 search terms for second day in a row. Overall Internet blogs, videos, Tweets, Facebook posts and news stories were 12,500 in past day, up from 8,600 on Monday, mainly focused on new story angles noted below.

—Coach Bradley weekly noon press conference went fine.

Update three, in which desperate attempts to regain control of the narrative are described, including the adoption of PSU mega-flack Bill Mahon's three sagacious messages and a mysterious conversation with ESPN executives about a narrative-wrangling video:

————— Forwarded message —————
From: "Ammerman, Paula"
Date: Fri, 18 Nov 2011 20:19:51 -0500
Subject: Update 3
President Erickson asked that I distribute the below message for your information.

DATE: November 18, 2011
FROM: Rodney A. Erickson
TO: Members of the Board of Trustees

As discussed, it is my intent to provide updates on a regular basis.

•Public announcement has been made regarding Dave Joyner's being named Acting Athletic Director. Dave is on campus and strong support has been expressed for this decision.

He conducted his first press conference as Acting Athletic Director and was well received. We are fortunate to have someone with his breadth of expertise to join our administrative team.

•A new, 30 second video was recorded and is available by visiting

The video focuses on the forward movement of the University and a more hopeful side that I've seen emerge over the past several days. One that focuses on compassion, generosity, and resilience.

ESPN has committed to playing the video during tomorrow's Penn State @ Ohio State game.

•In our efforts to bring awareness to the appropriate reporting mechanisms, a Newswire article was placed on our Penn State web site providing contact information for the Penn State community and beyond. For the Sandusky Child Abuse Investigation, numbers were provided for the Pennsylvania Office of the Attorney General and the Pennsylvania State Policy. We also provided numbers for the Penn State police as well as the Penn State Employee Ethics and Compliance Hotline. The complete article can be found at

•A message was sent from Bill Mahon, vice president for University Relations, to our deans and chancellors advising of available support from the University Relations Crisis Communications team and noting future planned efforts to manage events over the next several days. I've excerpt of that message of interest:

A few thoughts to keep in mind as you continue your communications with local media and your constituencies. Please reinforce three messages in your communications on behalf of the University: remorse, humility, and resolve. It is critical that we show that we are moving forward under the leadership of President Erickson. Please be sure that there is broad understanding that he is the President not the Interim President. You should refer to the "Five Promises" President Erickson made several days ago. His candor, honesty, and leadership is central to our efforts.

•I had positive conversations with Jim Delaney, Commissioner of the Big Ten, and with Mark Emmert, President of the NCAA. A separate communication was sent to you late yesterday advising of the NCAA's intent to examine Penn State's exercise of institutional control over the intercollegiate athletics program.

•Interviews were held with the final candidate for the position of Senior Vice President for Finance and Business. We are extremely fortunate to have candidates of the highest caliber with a continuing strong interest in Penn State. I believe that I will be in a position to make an appointment soon subject to your approval in January.

I've also met with the staff of Finance and Business to provide reassurances and to discuss the future of that organization. Dan Sieminski, Associate Vice President for Finance and Business, has been asked to be the unit liaison to President's Council until the appointment of the senior vice president.

•President's Council has met on a daily basis to receive updates on the initiatives identified. We expect to make several announcements over the next two weeks regarding support for victims, partnerships with various agencies, research initiatives, and educational program developments.

•Yesterday, I met with the Campaign Executive Committee via conference call. Our volunteer leaders remain committed to Penn State and my message was well received. I've attached a copy of the Talking Points that were developed for distribution to the various Campaign volunteer leaders and I believe that you'll agree with our message.

•Damon Sims and I met with the leaders of the University Park Undergraduate Association, the Graduate Student Association, and the Council of Commonwealth Campus Student Governments—the student leaders have proposed a Student Forum to be held Wednesday, November 30. They have invited several members of the senior administrative team to be part of a moderated panel to answer questions about the future of Penn State. I believe that it's important for us to hear our students' concerns and voices.

We also met with the student organizers of the "Blue Out" against Nebraska to stop child abuse. The students are interested in finding additional ways to partner with the University administration and identify opportunities for students, faculty and staff to know more about what is happening and move forward with consultative initiatives. We are enormously grateful for their support.

•In a special meeting today, the University Faculty Senate passed a resolution that expresses sympathy and support for the victims, calls for an independent special committee with members unaffiliated with the University, and pledges support for the five promises and helping to restore the public trust.

•We've started distributing daily Issues Updates electronically to all members of the Board—this will help to keep you apprised of the issues in the headlines and other events.

—Engaged Penn State Marketing Council to help identify institution's biggest needs and areas for most immediate assistance, such as Admissions.

—New video being developed to offer ESPN for Saturday.

—More symbolic gameday experiences developed for Ohio State pre-game.

To note: Our in-house film guru, Tim Burke, found no trace of any conciliatory video aired by ESPN during the Ohio State game. You will nevertheless find it at the top of the post.