Penn State Applications, Alumni Memberships Rise, Erickson Says

Pennsylvania State University’s applications for admissions and alumni association memberships exceeded last year’s levels even after details of the school’s sexual abuse scandal became public.

Applications for admission are 3.4 percent higher so far this year compared with 2010, Penn State President Rodney Erickson said in an letter e-mailed yesterday to alumni. Memberships in the school’s alumni association, the biggest in the U.S., gained 2 percent to 166,842, according to the letter.

Charges that former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky sexually abused eight children have rocked the school’s image and operations, resulting in the dismissal last month of President Graham Spanier and head football coach Joe Paterno. Erickson has said he will partner with groups that fight rape and child sex abuse and establish a Center for Protection of Children for research and treatment of victims.

“As a university and a community, we have endured a great deal, but our core mission and values remain intact,” he said in the letter. “Penn Staters are defined by our hard work and accomplishments, and there’s still great demand to be part of our community.”

Donations to Penn State’s annual giving fund from July through November were also higher than the same period last year, Erickson said, without providing amounts.

A grand jury charged Sandusky with 40 counts of molesting eight boys from 1994 to 2009. He has denied wrongdoing.

Paterno, who won a record 409 games as Penn State’s coach, and Spanier haven’t been accused of criminal wrongdoing.

To contact the reporter on this story: John Lauerman in Boston at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jonathan Kaufman at

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