Arts and Entertainment

'We Are' Sculpture spells it out for Penn State community

Class of 2013's gift installed on the University Park campus

The 'We Are Sculpture' is located at the corner of Curtin Road and University Drive on Penn State's University Park campus. Credit: Patrick Mansell / Penn StateCreative Commons

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- "We Are...Penn State!" This chant, for many, encapsulates what it means to be a "Penn Stater" and part of an interconnected community that is recognizable around the world.

Now that iconic phrase has taken on a tangible representation: The "We Are" sculpture, gift of Penn State's Class of 2013, was installed June 30 on the University Park campus.

Finishing touches will be added over the next two weeks. The sculpture will be dedicated officially after students return to campus for the fall semester.

Located near the east side of the Intramural (IM) Building, at the northwest corner of the intersection of Curtin Road and University Drive, the sculpture was designed by Brooklyn, N.Y., artist and Penn State alumnus Jonathan Cramer.

The design includes a 12-foot, 8,000-pound sculpture of the words "We Are" in mirror-polished, solid stainless steel. Allegheny Technologies donated the steel used in the artwork. An interpretive sign located near the sculpture will be inscribed with the words of Penn State's Alma Mater, reproduced in the style of Professor of American Literature Fred Lewis Pattee's handwriting. Pattee penned the Alma Mater in 1901.

Cramer won a national competition for the commission to design the sculpture. His goal was to create "a sculpture design that meets the exuberance, energy and pride of the school, its alumni, and its location...The reflective nature of the steel creates a dialogue between the viewer, the surroundings, and fellow peers, which further solidifies the 'We Are' slogan."

Penn State's class gift committee in seeking an artist wanted a sculpture that was modern and forward-looking -- while they wanted to be respectful of history, they also wanted to look to the future.

“The class of 2013 was looking for a sculpture that would embody the unity that 'We Are' inspires among Penn Staters and reflect on what the phrase means to them," said Geoff Hallett, class gift adviser and assistant director in Annual Giving. "The polished steel is a mirror that invites visitors to the site to contemplate all that makes Penn State great: the people of this community whose reflections are shining back at them.”

The accompanying interpretive sign features a reproduction of the Penn State Alma Mater in Fred Lewis Pattee’s script along with a short history on its origin. The description reads “The Class of 2013 and Fred Lewis Pattee…nourishing college spirit and loyalty. From a thunderous chant at a sporting event to a personal greeting on a street in a foreign land, WE ARE...PENN STATE is recognized as a reflection of the pride, spirit and loyalty of past, present and future Penn Staters.”

The tradition of class gifts at Penn State began when the class of 1861, at its reunion in 1890, gave the University a portrait of Penn State’s first president, Evan Pugh, which still hangs in the lobby of Old Main. For more information about the class gift program, visit

Last Updated July 02, 2015