Sifting and Winnowing
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Sifting and Winnowing Early in the summer of 1960 after teaching two years of high school history, I drove to Madison, Wisconsin, home of the University of Wisconsin, carrying with me my transcript from Northwestern University, where I had recently graduated. I came to ask for admittance into master’s degree program in the Department of History. The prominent University of Wisconsin History Department was located just inside the Bascom Hall, the administrative home of that fine institution. As I walked up Bascom Hill, I noticed an old plaque on the wall. It read: Whatever may be the limitations which trammel inquiry elsewhere, we believe that the great state University of Wisconsin should ever encourage that continual and fearless sifting and winnowing by which alone the truth can be found. “Sifting and winnowing,” in an effort to approach the truth, stuck in my mind. Every time I approached Bascom Hall, I would glance at that plaque, close to the statue honoring Abraham Lincoln, who was stationed militarily in Wisconsin prior to his entrance into the political life of the nation. Later, I found out why the plaque with the words of the 1894 Governing Board was placed in such a prominent place. It was to honor what a university should stand for: free inquiry and expression in an effort to find the truth. When controversial issues present themselves, the search for truth should prevail. Such was the case of the University of Wisconsin Professor of Economics, Richard T. Ely, who discussed and wrote about socialism at the end of the nineteenth century. Because of his political writing, a government employee called for his firing. However, the Board of Regents at the University of Wisconsin backed Ely, stating “the investigator should be absolutely free to follow the indications of truth wherever they may lead.” Ely was allowed to sift and winnow, remaining true to academic freedom. With all the controversy surrounding how Penn State University dealt with the Jerry Sandusky Scandal, I have had the freedom to sift and winnow through the records in an attempt to approximate the truth. I have spent several years searching through 140 years of records in an endeavor to find out how athletics has been administered at Penn State and why it may have contributed to Penn State’s administrative approach to the scandal. Smith_text.indd 11 12/7/15 11:11 AM Smith_text.indd 12 12/7/15 11:11 AM ...



Subject Headings

  • Pennsylvania State University -- Sports.
  • Pennsylvania State University -- Football.
  • Paterno, Joe, 1926-2012.
  • Sandusky, Jerry.
  • Pennsylvania State University -- Sports -- Administration.
  • College sports -- Corrupt practices -- Pennsylvania -- University Park.
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