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| What is a "Nittany Lion"
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|Penn State news bureau|
Jackie Esposito and Steven Herb with their good friend,
the Nittany Lion Shrine.
Photo: Greg Grieco
By Annemarie Mountz
Quick: Where and by whom was the idea for the Nittany Lion mascot first verbalized? Who sculpted the Nittany Lion Shrine?
If you said Joe Mason at Princeton and Heinz Warneke, congratulations. You're a true, blue-and-white Penn Stater. And if you're like most Penn Staters, you can't get enough information about the University's beloved lion.
If you're not as up on Nittany Lion trivia as you'd like to be, don't worry. University librarians Jackie R. Esposito and Steven L. Herb have worked hard to put the facts you seek at your fingertips.
Esposito and Herb scoured the University Archives in Pattee Library and interviewed dozens of people connected with Penn State to find out everything they could about the University's famous symbol. Their efforts produced The Nittany Lion: An Illustrated Tale, to be published by the Penn State Press in September.
"What is 'Nittany?' What is the Nittany Lion? Why is it Penn State's mascot? Where did it come from? Part of the reason this book got started was to answer some of these questions," said Esposito, senior assistant librarian and assistant University archivist. "People want to know what this Nittany thing is. And you can't just say, 'It's this,' because it's not just one thing."
Most people who use the University archives expect to be able to name a topic and be handed all the information the library has relating to the subject. But that's not how it works, Esposito said.
"You give them what you have, usually bits and pieces, and they look at it and say 'But this isn't everything.' In an archives, researchers have to look here and there, essentially putting together pieces of a puzzle, instead of getting a book and having all the information handed to them in once place."
In an effort to answer the questions about the Nittany Lion more quickly and easily, Esposito started compiling all the different variations of the theme. Her first thought was to put together a small booklet similar to those at historic sites, but also to include some stories for children. Because Herb is a specialist in children's literature and a storyteller by profession, he was a natural partner in the process. That process included a lot of detective work.
"This is a real interesting combination of traditional academic scholarship with creativity and storytelling," Herb said. "We're really doing something a little different here. It's a trade book, with a scholarly background. The amount of time we spent in the archives for this book is comparable to the time a historian would spend in the archives on a biography because there was a lot to look at, a lot of different stories to put together."
Most of the information in this book existed in some form somewhere, but Esposito and Herb have woven it together into a connected tapestry -- and in the process discovered things that didn't exist before outside of somebody's head or scrapbook.
Herb, who is not an archivist, found the information-gathering process a learning experience in itself.
"I imagined the archives as a pile of stuff. If you went through it long enough, you'd establish all the facts and everything would be there and you'd write a story," he said. "Well, it's more like an unraveling shirt. You find an envelope full of facts, pull on one and it's like a thread that never, ever stops. In some ways, it's both wonderful and infuriating. It's exciting because there's always something new to discover, but I'm still asking questions and we just can't get resolution for everything."
For example, they found that sometimes photos didn't match up with the facts they uncovered.
"We have a story that seems incontrovertible and then we have a picture that contradicts it," Herb said. "We have them both in the book, hoping someone will figure it out and let us know."
The two authors wouldn't divulge the contracdicting information.
Another mystery is a missing mascot.
"Some people think there's a mascot directory somewhere. But this is the first time anybody's put together as complete a list as possible, but the 1961 mascot's identity is missing," Herb said. "Now there has to be someone who knows who the lion was. We asked the lion before (1960), 'Do you remember who took over after you?' No. We asked the lion after (1962), 'Do you remember who you took over from?' No. The cheerleader at the time? No. No Collegian article. No mention, nothing. Isn't that weird? It's almost like we have to publish the book to get that answer."
Esposito offered some explanations, including the possibility that there wasn't a mascot that year, or that a group of fraternity brothers took turns donning the suit.
"For a long time you weren't supposed to say who you were." Esposito said. "That was part of the myth of the man in the suit. Some people took that very seriously."
Esposito and Herb would like nothing better than to see The Nittany Lion: An Illustrated Tale in every Pennsylvania library.
"We spent a lot of time on a pretty extensive index and tried to organize it in such a way that even though it's a collection of stories, it would still be a reference work," said Herb.
"It's written so that if you don't know Penn State history you can follow the story and keep up with the social history that's going on at the time," Esposito said.
Still, the appeal to Penn State alumni is not lost on them.
"There are a lot of alumni and I think they're the ones who are most interested," Herb said.
Esposito and Herb are acutely aware that the details in their book will be scrutinized. Although they spent countless hours trying to verify every fact, they're sure they must have missed something.
"We're assuming there's somebody out there who remembers it all and will turn up after the book comes out." Esposito said.
The book will help Esposito answer all those questions she fields about the Nittany Lion. She also hopes people are entertained learning things they thought they knew.
Herb will be happy if he goes into O.W. Houts, a State College variety store, and sees people staring at the bronze lions outside.
"If I see people looking at those lions and petting them, I'll know it was because of us," he said.
Want to know why? Read the book.
The Nittany Lion mascot, which was created in 1904 in the
freshman baseball player Joe Mason, has become a fixture at Penn State sporting events.
The Nittany Lion was born on a bitterly cold April day in 1904, but not in Happy Valley where he reigns as king. His life began where many of Penn State's sports teams have faced their toughest hurdles -- on the road.
The Penn State baseball team awoke that blustery Wednesday morning about to face their strongest opponent of the season. Expectations had not been high for a team that returned only three varsity players to the diamond, and after an opening game win over the Bellefonte Academy at home, the eastern road trip was proving difficult. The men from State were shut out by West Point (1-0) on the 16th and Manhattan College (6-0) on the 18th, all but wiping out any joy they had obtained by beating Bloomsburg Normal in their first contest as the visiting team.
A hard-fought, one-run victory at Fordham the day before had brightened their spirits and now it was the 20th, the final game of the eastern leg of the season, and that meant Princeton. They had beaten Fordham and held their own at West Point, but the Princeton baseball team was tough to beat anywhere and on their own field they were formidable. The Pennsylvania State College nine were tired from all that train travel and looking forward to returning home, but first they had to face the Princeton Tigers.
It is hard to gauge just how certain the Princeton nine were of winning the game that day, but during a morning tour of campus for the Penn State team, a couple of tour guides couldn't resist a pre-game boast. Third baseman Joe Mason remembered it this way four decades later at the dedication of the Nittany Lion Shrine :
"As you students well know, sophomores are generally pretty cocky chaps, and when these two escorted us into their beautiful gymnasium, they stopped us in front of a splendid mounted figure of a Bengal tiger. One chap spoke up: 'See our emblem, the Princeton Tiger, the fiercest beast of them all.' An idea came to me, and I replied, 'Well, up at Penn State we have Mount Nittany right on our campus, where rules the Nittany Mountain Lion, who has never been beaten in a fair fight, so Princeton Tiger, look out.'"
-- From The Nittany Lion: An Illustrated Tale
by Jackie Esposito and Steven Herb
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By Lisa M. Rosellini
In 1994, Richard Kopley, then an associate professor of English at the DuBois campus, was asked to take on a three-year assignment as an administrator. Now, in 1997, his term as associate head of the Department of English for the Commonwealth Educational System has expired, and Kopley is returning to his home base -- to again teach students full time.
"I'll be writing a lot fewer memos, doing less traveling, fewer evaluations and the focus will be on the classroom in a way that it hasn't been for the last three years," said Kopley, who has taught a class each spring at University Park. "There will be a lot less pressure, but not less time expended. I expect to enjoy it totally."
Kopley's return -- like that of numerous other University administrators -- is just one step in a mixed approach to beef up the number of faculty in Penn State's classrooms. According to President Graham B. Spanier, the equivalent of 21 additional faculty positions will result from shifting academic personnel with administrative duties back to the classroom. But that's only one route to easing the University's student/faculty ratio of 18.4 to 1.
Spanier, who during his 1996 state-of-the-university address called the hiring of new faculty "Penn State's highest priority," recently unveiled plans to add 100 new faculty members to the ranks -- 60 of whom will come on board during this academic year.
Like Vincent Crespi.
Crespi, a postdoctoral researcher in physics at the University of California, Berkeley, will come on board as an assistant professor of physics on Aug. 15. He is part of the first wave of 25 new faculty who will begin appearing on campus this fall, hired with the help of $1.3 million in internal budget reallocations. As part of Penn State's 1997-98 state appropriation request, Spanier was asking the Legislature for ongoing funding for 50 additional faculty positions, but the $2.9 million needed for the hirings didn't materialize this year. Despite this, Penn State made good on its promise to reallocate funds for 25 new positions.
"Data show that Penn State's student/faculty ratio is higher than those for Pitt and Temple; Pitt's ratio is 14.5 to 1 and Temple's is 16.9 to 1," Spanier said referring to the most recent report from the Joint State Government Commission, which collects information every year from state-owned and state-related universities. "It would take approximately 650 additional faculty positions to bring our student faculty ratio to the average of Pitt or Temple."
Lack of state funding plays a serious role in the problem, Spanier said. Within Pennsylvania, Penn State receives a lower educational and general appropriation per student from the state than any other public college or university. According to the University's Office of Budget and Resource Analysis, in 1995-96 -- the most recent year for which comparative data are available -- Temple received $5,630 per full-time equivalent student; Pitt pulled in $4,750; the state-owned universities were given an average of $4,580; while Penn State received $3,350.
"Because this faculty initiative is so vital to the core mission of our University and to improving the quality of our educational programming we are determined to make some level of progress regardless of state funding," Spanier said.
In addition to the 25 new faculty positions already given the go ahead, $1 million also has been earmarked to add faculty and enhance programs in the Life Sciences Consortium that includes the Eberly College of Science and the colleges of Health and Human Development, Medicine, the Liberal Arts and Engineering; $4.6 million will support faculty positions and other high priority academic programs across the Penn State system; and $1.4 million from recent adopted changes in the tuition structure, will go to colleges and campuses based on the enrollment in each unit.
"I see these steps as great first steps," said Louis Geschwindner, professor of architectural engineering and chair of the University Faculty Senate. "I think this will be important for every unit of the University. The biggest value of course is more student interaction with faculty and the potential for smaller classes, but the impact on the entire University is going to obviously be extremely positive."
Geschwindner explained that having new colleagues always provides new opportunities for teaching and research efforts. It is possible that fresh ideas and new hires could result in new courses being designed and offered.
"Adding new faculty could mean new course offerings," agreed Susan Welch, dean of the College of the Liberal Arts. "But this will all take time. Although 100 faculty is good news, it is still a small percentage of overall faculty. We've got to start somewhere and eventually it will make an impact."
Welch, who said her college has been working for years on finding ways to increase its faculty numbers, said the College of the Liberal Arts is an early beneficiary of the initiative, having gained approval for three positions. Two were recently filled -- one in religious studies and the other in psychology.
Howard Grotch, dean of the Eberly College of Science, said because his college provides service instruction at the undergraduate level, the news of additional faculty is a welcome relief. About 75 percent of the student credit hours provided by the College of Science are offered to students outside the college.
"This is an extremely important initiative that will enable class sizes to go down and will allow us to possibly offer more courses for students," Grotch said. "I'm excited about the entire prospect."
Large class sizes have been an ongoing concern of Spanier's, who said that on the whole Penn State classes are manageable, but the need is there for more teachers to truly make the educational experience a valuable one. In the Joint State Government Commission report, Penn State's average class size for undergraduates is 29. In the 1996 fall semester, more than 85 percent of all class sections had 50 or fewer students enrolled, and two-thirds had 30 or fewer, according to information from the Office of Budget and Resource Analysis.
"I think some of the large class discussion is myth," said Diane Enerson, director of the Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching. Enerson coordinates annual luncheons to promote discussion among faculty members who teach larger classes. "There are some large classes, but we have found that most of those who teach larger classes have an average of 15 years of teaching experience and tend to have a higher level of expertise. The reality is that you can still have an excellent learning experience in a large class setting."
Through the center's program, faculty who teach larger sections exchange ideas on how to improve the large class experience. On another front, Enerson is frantically preparing for the onslaught of 100 new faculty faces. The center has embarked on a new program fashioned after the large class luncheon discussion called the "New Faculty Network." Enerson hopes the structured opportunities the center will provide for new faculty to meet will help them "get their bearings and discover what resources are available to them at the University."
"I think that if these 100 faculty positions are used judiciously, they could have a tremendous impact," Enerson said. "Not only on student learning and on teaching, but also on the morale of the entire University."
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A familiar face on the all-news network CNN will be seen by those receiving undergraduate degrees at University Park, while the director of the Life Sciences Consortium will address master's and doctoral degree recipients.
The University will hold 1997 Summer Commencement ceremonies for 1,494 undergraduates and 906 graduate degree students at the University Park campus on Saturday, Aug. 9. An estimated 219 students will graduate with associate degrees, 1,275 with baccalaureate degrees, 673 with master's degrees and 233 with doctorates, for a total of 2,400 graduates.
Undergraduate ceremonies will be held at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 9, in The Bryce Jordan Center. The commencement speaker will be Charles Bierbauer, senior Washington correspondent for CNN and Penn State Distinguished Alumnus and Alumni Fellow.
Bierbauer covers critical public policy issues including the federal budget, tax reform and health care. As CNN's senior White House correspondent for nine years during the Reagan and Bush administrations, Bierbauer has spent more years at the White House than any U.S. president except Franklin D. Roosevelt. He has traveled with presidents to all 50 states and more than 30 nations and has covered four presidential election campaigns since 1984.
Bierbauer joined CNN in 1981 as its defense correspondent. From 1985 to 1995 he was the host of CNN's "Newsmaker Saturday," a weekly report featuring in-depth interviews with leading newsmakers. He holds a bachelor's degree in journalism and Russian and a master's degree in journalism from Penn State.
Graduate School ceremonies for Penn State master's and doctoral recipients will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 9, in Eisenhower Auditorium. The commencement speaker is Nina V. Fedoroff, professor of biology, director of the Life Sciences Consortium, director of the Penn State Biotechnology Institute, and holder of the Verne M. Willaman Chair in life sciences.
Fedoroff is known for her research on the molecular biology of mobile genetic elements in plants and on the developmental regulation of gene expression. She is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Phi Beta Kappa and Sigma Xi honorary societies, the board of directors of the Sigma-Aldrich Corp., the international advisory board to the Englehardt Institute of Molecular Biology in Moscow, and the editorial boards of The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, The Plant Journal and Perspectives in Biology and Medicine.
Fedoroff earned a bachelor's degree in biology and chemistry, summa cum laude, at Syracuse University and a Ph.D. in molecular biology at Rockefeller University.
Degrees for both ceremonies will be conferred by President Graham B. Spanier.
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Harrisburg resident William Nordai, a student in Penn State Harrisburg's graduate program in environmental pollution control, has earned a research grant through the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to study in-vessel composting for processing and recycling solid waste in outer space.
NASA's Graduate Student Researchers Program will fund Nordai's tuition and research needs as he completes requirements for his master of engineering degree and investigates "Composting Plant and Human Wastes in a Controlled Ecological Life Support System."
Samuel McClintock, associate professor of environmental engineering, co-wrote the proposal to NASA.
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Effective July 1, 1997
The following faculty in the Intercollege Research Programs have been promoted for the 1997-1998 fiscal year.
To Senior Scientist
To Senior Scientist
Ram B. Bhagat
To Senior Research
Mark W. McBride
Allen L. Treaster
To Research Engineer
Clifton C. Merchant
William J. Sabol
Fred E. Smith
Lewis C. Watt
To Associate Research
Gregory A. Babich
Steven J. Barnett
Carl S. Byington
Anthony J. Cutezo
Kevin J. Farrell
Michael J. Gustafson
Michele R. Keller
John M. Kenny
Daniel F. Kerstetter
James J. Kisenwether
Martin A. Mazur
G. William Nickerson
Robert H. Rivoir
Robert M. Seland
William A. Straka
Dennis B. Wess
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Brian Ishler, left, and Dale Eckley measure while Paul Curtis
paints a line on the student fields in front of University Salvage on the
University Park campus. A variety of sports camps and other activities keep
the Department of Athletics stadium grounds crew busy all summer.
Photo: Greg Grieco
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Jack P. Royer, senior associate dean of the Commonwealth Education System, died July 17 while on his way to work. He was 49.
He was driving near the University Park campus when his vehicle swerved off the road and hit some signs. Police said Royer most likely died of natural causes, and not from the minor traffic accident.
Royer joined the University in 1987 as director of academic affairs at Penn State Fayette and later moved to University Park as associate dean for undergraduate education. In 1991, he was named senior associate dean of the CES and was involved with the restructuring of the CES that became official on July 1.
Royer graduated with honors from Penn State in 1969 with a bachelor's degree in forest technology. He received a master's degree in environmental systems management from American University in 1973 and a doctorate in natural resources from Cornell University in 1980. Before joining Penn State, he worked as a photographer for the U.S. Army and then became assistant professor and acting director of the Center for Resource and Environmental Policy Research at Duke University.
In addition to his duties with the University, Royer was active in State College Little League, coaching the State College National tournament team.
Royer is survived by his wife, Patricia, and two children.
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