penn state mark

About

 

Penn State Historical Markers

Colleges and universities are rarely aware of their own history until chronological landmarks approach. These landmarks -- anniversaries of institutional events or facilities, for example -- often trigger nostalgic reminiscences. At Penn State, the historical markers program has been one way of keeping history in the public forefront without depending on special occasions. By telling the story of the University's rich tradition of achievement in such a public manner, the marker program helps to sustain Penn State's reputation as one of the nation's foremost public institutions of higher education.

Purpose

The blue-and-white historical markers dotting the campus landscape demonstrate that Penn State has a long and diverse intellectual heritage. These markers remind visitors to the campus, as well as students, faculty, and other members of the Penn State community, of major figures and accomplishments from the University's past. The markers stand as tangible evidence that Penn State recognizes and appreciates its heritage. They are intended to be read by pedestrians and are situated accordingly. They are not roadside-style markers.

The first ten markers were erected in the spring of 1990 at the University Park campus. As of September 1, 2011, 60 markers had been installed at University Park, and a total of 16 at nine other Penn State locations statewide. They continue to be erected as additional marker subjects are identified.

Selection

Marker topics are selected by a committee chaired by Michael Bezilla, director of research communications in the Office of University Relations, and formerly University Historian; Bill Mahon, vice president for University Relations; and Jackie Esposito, University Archivist. Suggestions for markers are invited from the University community at large. The committee makes its selections based primarily on a marker topic's historical significance, i.e., an event or place that has broadly influenced society in a scientific, technical, intellectual, artistic, or cultural context, and that has appeal or relevance to non-Penn Staters as well as to members of the University community. The marker must be able to communicate its message clearly in about 70 words or less. Generally avoided are topics whose primary appeal is nostalgic or based on legend and lore. The proposed marker text may also be reviewed by the appropriate academic officers for content accuracy. In cases where suggestions do not fit the criteria of the campus historical program, the committee may propose other forms of historical commemoratives, such as interior plaques, exterior tablets in stone, etc. Site selections are made in consultation with the Office of Physical Plant and may also involve facilities coordinators and academic administrators.

Administration

The campus historical markers program is administered by University Relations with financial support from the Penn State Alumni Association. The markers themselves are cast aluminum and manufactured by Lakeshore Industries of Erie, Pennsylvania. Ceremonial events relating to the installation or dedication of a marker are the responsibility of the appropriate academic or administrative unit.

To suggest a campus historical marker, contact Michael Bezilla, mxb13@psu.edu.