Each university has their own hidden secrets that a lot of people do not know about until they delve deep into the depths of the history of said university. Penn State, being one of the largest universities in terms of enrollment and campus size, has plenty of fun facts that most people have no clue about. Without further ado, here are 11 fun facts about the Pennsylvania State University!
1. Penn State's original school colors were pink and black.
When you think of Penn State, you probably think of all of the die hard fans who bleed blue and white. But one thing a lot of people do not know about Penn State is that the original colors were pink and black. In 1890, Penn State’s colors were changed to what we know today as the good old blue and white. In October of 1887, the student government at the time was comprised of three members: a sophomore, junior and senior. The three of them had the power to choose the school colors. Their original thoughts were to have the university colors be red and orange, but a lot of other schools at the time had those colors. Pink and black was a bold move for such a bold university.
2. One out of five students at Penn State chooses not to drink.
There is no denying that Penn State is a party school. A lot of people make the generalization that students that choose to attend Penn State are all hardcore partiers that drink all of the time. Personally, I am one of the 20 percent of the student body that chooses not to drink. It just isn’t how I want to spend my time at such a grand university. While you might be surprised by this number, it is important to realize that Penn State is much more than a party school. Last year the enrollment was 47,307 students, so according to that statistic approximately 9,407 students chose not to partake in the drinking scene. That is a lot of students, considering some universities have under 1,000 students total.
3. Old Coaly helped build Penn State.
No one, especially in this day in age, cares about how Penn State was built. Penn State is huge and consists of 8,556 acres of land, so who wouldn’t wonder how all of the buildings were built? Most people think Penn State was created because of human labor, but little do most people know that Penn State’s old mascot, Old Coaly, helped comprise Penn State into what it is today. Old Coaly, a mule, helped to build one of Penn State’s most iconic and beloved landmarks, Old Main. He helped by hauling limestone blocks to the construction site of Old Main. For all of the work that Old Coaly put in and how reliable he was, Penn State paid a whopping $190 for him back in 1863, which was quite a steep price at that time.
4. Bill Clinton was the only person to ever mix flavors at the Berkey Creamery.
At the Berkey Creamery, there are two rules: no mixing flavors and only blue and white sprinkles. But the one time Bill Clinton came to the Berkey Creamery, he wanted to mix flavors. Who could say no to Bill Clinton? The worker who mixed flavors for him ended up getting fired. It would stink to be that employee!
5. The Berkey Creamery is the largest campus creamery in the United States.
Speaking of the Berkey Creamery, it is the largest campus creamery ever! If that isn’t an incentive to come visit Penn State and taste the delicious ice cream or milkshakes. My personal favorite is Bittersweet Mint, but there are about a hundred delicious flavors that cycle throughout the course of the year and you are sure to find your favorite! If you are ever in central PA near Penn State, I highly recommend trying this life changing ice cream.
6. The Nittany Lion is the second most photographed landmark in Pennsylvania.
The iconic Nittany Lion Shrine, located on west campus at Penn State’s University Park campus, is the second most photographed landmark in Pennsylvania right behind the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia. The Lion Shrine was a gift from the class of 1940 and ever since hundreds of thousands of visitors have come to take photos with the shrine. It is really common for students to take a photo there on move-in weekend of their freshman year and then again in their graduation cap and gown, as that is a great way to look at their transformation of four years.
7. There are a lot of underground fraternities and sororities.
Most of the fraternities or sororities that have broken rules and lost recognition from the university have gone underground. There are still a lot of old Greek organizations that still engage in actions that are officially against the rules that Penn State has put in place about Greek life and they don’t get in trouble because they are not recognized by the university.
8. There are 372 notable alumni who graduated from Penn State.
This number definitely speaks for itself! Penn State produces a lot of successful individuals because of the amazing networking opportunities and faculty members. Some famous alumni include Keegan-Michael Key, Matt Anderson, John Urschel, Rick Santorum and Christian Hackenberg just to name a few.
9. A girl was murdered in the Stacks in the Pattee Library and the mystery of her murder still hasn't been solved.
In 1969, Betsy Aardsmada was murdered in the Stacks, which is located on the Pattee side of the library. She grew up in Michigan and came to Penn State for her education. After her murder, state troopers interviewed hundreds of students and people back from her hometown to see if any of them could be the culprit of her stabbing, but the state troopers came up with nothing. To this day, Betsy’s murder is unsolved.
10. The "We are ... Penn State" chant was made by the Penn State cheerleaders in the 1970s.
Penn State just launched a new initiative this past year called the “All In” campaign that is centered around diversity and inclusion. But it is important to remember that Penn State wasn’t always as inclusive as it is today. Years ago, when Penn State was invited to play in the Cotton Bowl in Dallas, TX and play against the Hurricanes in Miami, FL, Penn State was only allowed to play if the rosters weren’t integrated. In other words, the black players would have to stay home. Penn State thought that wasn’t right, and the team captain at the time, Steve Suhey, uttered, “It’s all or none. We are ... Penn State.” Ever since then, diversity was changed for the better at Penn State. At one of the home games in the 1970s, the Penn State cheerleaders began the "We Are Penn State" chant and it has stuck around ever since.
11. One in four meteorologists graduated from Penn State.
Penn State undoubtedly has one of the best meteorology programs in the United States. With one out of every four meteorologists in the United States coming from Penn State, that explains why the weather is wrong 75 percent of the time! Just kidding. But in all seriousness, a lot of the weather that is forecasted comes from the weather center in State College, PA. Since 1942, over 3000 meteorology undergraduates have graduated with a bachelor of science, 750 with a master's of science and 230 with doctor of philosophy degrees in meteorology.
Penn State is rich in history! If you are attending Penn State or if you are interested in possibly attending, I encourage you to dig deep and find out some cool facts, because I certainly was able to find out some pretty interesting facts about Penn State before coming to campus last fall.
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