All posts by Tom Shakely

Salute to veterans

By Chris Buchignani, November 2016 The great stories of any age are often best understood by tracing the tiny threads of personal experience. In following these winding strands, seeing where and how they intersect, we come to understand how the collective weight of countless individual acts underpins the forces that shape our world. On the ...

The Penn State-Wisconsin Rivalry That Never Was

By Chris Buchignani, October 2016 Recently, I found myself caught in Park Ave traffic behind a car adorned with an obnoxiously large Ohio State Buckeyes magnet. With merely a glimpse of it, my pulse quickened and my palms tightly gripped the steering wheel. As an ardent Nittany Lions fan, I recoiled at the unwelcome reminder ...

The Legend of Penn’s Cave (Nittany Valley Press Excerpt)

This is the very first Pennsylvania legend published by folklorist Henry W. Shoemaker in 1902. It is the official legend featured at Penn’s Cave, where it is painted on a large sign at the entrance. This legend tells not of the Princess Nittany over whose burial mound (or over whose lover’s burial mound) Nittany Mountain ...

1964 Penn State Student Body President’s Memo to Penn State President Eric Walker

In August 1964, incoming Penn State Student Body President Ben Novak addressed the following memo on the nature and purpose of student self-governance to Penn State President Eric Walker. Penn State Student Government Memo to President Eric Walker

Why Learn the Penn State Story?

By Chris Buchignani, August 2016 To wrap up this series of articles on local efforts to bring history to life, I would like to focus on a project that is a source of great excitement and pride – The Nittany Valley Society’s support for an undergraduate course on Penn State history. In early 2013, two ...

One-Room Schools Bring History Alive

By Chris Buchignani, July 2016 Over the past several months, I have written about efforts to “mine” the rich preserves of knowledge buried in the past to release their power in the present. Previous installments of this series have focused mainly on conceptual conveyances of this potential – books, stories, and documents. But what about ...

A Brief History of Penn State Astronomy

By Chris Buchignani, May 2016 For years, they stood unused and largely unremarked upon: Two single-story brick structures capped with white domes adjacent to the Eisenhower Auditorium. In the years before they were torn down during one of the latest campus facelifts, people would occasionally ask about them. These buildings obviously served some function related ...

The First History of Penn State

By Chris Buchignani, April 2016 Over its 161 years, Penn State has twice sanctioned books chronicling the University’s history, once in the 1940’s and again with an updated version in the 1980’s. While history professor and Penn State historian Wayland Dunaway’s 1946 “History of The Pennsylvania State College” was the first official account of Old ...

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Looking Back to Move Forward

By Chris Buchignani, March 2016 Why should we care about the past? The potential answers to this question are many and varied, but certainly, in looking back to understand what came before, we can see something of ourselves reflected back at us, extracting value from the experience. It is not without peril. Genuine self-examination risks ...

Our Founders Were Real

By Tom Shakely Evan Pugh was Penn State’s first president. It’s great if you happen to know of Evan Pugh. In fact, it’s likely that knowing about him already puts you in the minority among students and alumni. But just knowing this bit of raw information isn’t worth much in and of itself. It’s available ...