By Chris Buchignani, October 2013
The Nittany Valley Society’s Willow Gathering is a Christmastime celebration of the Nittany Valley and its people. As an expression our of mission to “foster a spirit of community,” sharing “knowledge of our past, an appreciation for our present, and an affection for our spirit,” The Willow Gathering brings together students, professors, townspeople, alumni, and friends in State College for an afternoon and evening of fellowship and spirit.
The 2013 Willow Gathering will be held on Saturday, December 7th from 1 – 5pm at The University Club.
The 2013 Willow Gathering (Saturday, December 7th)
- 1-3pm – Welcoming Presentation — Featured guest Roger Williams, Executive Director of the Penn State Alumni Association, will present “Evan Pugh and George Atherton: Penn State’s George Washington and Abraham Lincoln,” an introduction to the remarkable stories of the University’s two “Founding Presidents.” Learn more about NVS accomplishments from 2013, including the first-time publication of Dr. Erwin Runkle’s history of Penn State. Meet and mingle with Dr. Williams, the Nittany Valley Society board of directors, and fellow guests.
- 3-5pm – Fellowship Reception — Share in our celebration of local craftsmanship. Enjoy live music from local musician John “JT” Thompson and, in the spirit of our book “The Birth of the Craft Brew Revolution,” a sampling of locally-brewed craft beers selected and poured by the staff of The Brewery at The Gamble Mill.
Evan Pugh and George Atherton: Penn State’s George Washington and Abraham Lincoln
Roger L. Williams ’73, ’75g, ’88g, Executive Director of the Penn State Alumni Association and Affiliate Associate Professor of Higher Education.
Just as George Washington set the precedents and standards for U.S.Presidency and Abraham Lincoln reconciled the nation to its original lofty purpose, so too did founding President Evan Pugh (1859–64) and seventh president, George Atherton (1882–1906), accomplish similar ends for Penn State. Pugh came with a grand vision for Penn State and a focus on introducing the fledgling field of agricultural science into American higher education. Eighteen years later, Atherton arrived and brought a failing Penn State into alignment with the Morrill Land-Grant Act of 1862, and set the stage for the University’s growth and success in the 20th century.
Roger L. Williams is Executive Director of the Penn State Alumni Association, the largest dues-paying alumni association in the world, with 172,384 members. He also is affiliate associate professor of higher education at Penn State. He is author of 32 published articles and chapters and one book, The Origins of Federal Support for Higher Education: George W. Atherton and the Land-Grant College Movement (1991). He serves on the editorial board of the journal Perspectives on the History of Higher Education, for which he recently co-authored “Saving the Land Grant for the Agricultural College of Pennsylvania.” He holds a B.A. in history (1973), M.A. in journalism (1975), and D.Ed. in higher education (1988), all from Penn State.