Dreaming of a Blue Christmas: Actually, it’s no dream. The video below is the very real holiday light display set up by Robert Witt ’01 of Schwenksville, Pa. It started blowing up the internet yesterday, and it is something else:
I’m not gonna lie: I’m not sure I’d want to live right next door to that. But it is impressive work.
Hump day hoops: The 10th-ranked Lady Lions continue a tough non-conference schedule tonight when they host No. 4 Notre Dame in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge. The match-up marks the first meeting between Penn State coach Coquese Washington and her Fighting Irish counterpart, Muffet McGraw, but as the Daily Collegian tells us, the two have serious history: Washington played for and later coached under McGraw at Notre Dame, which won the 2001 national championship while she was an assistant.
The Nittany Lions fell at Pitt last night, 78-69, in their Big Ten/ACC match-up. It was a close game throughout, and an impressive showing for the Lions, who were playing their fifth game in 10 days. Pitt, unbeaten this season, is 106-3 all-time at the Petersen Events Center against non-conference opponents.
He just won, baby: In case you somehow missed it, Matt McGloin ’12 started his first NFL game on Sunday. To be more specific: An NFL rookie who wasn’t offered a Division I scholarship and wasn’t drafted out of college started—and won—in his NFL debut. He wasn’t Peyton Manning, but for a rookie starting on the road, McGloin was nonetheless terrific, completing 18 of 32 passes for 197 yards, three touchdowns, and no interceptions. Most importantly, he led the Raiders to a 28-23 win.
For more, here are game highlights and video from McGloin’s postgame press conference, and good stuff from one Bay Area columnist who celebrates McGloin as “the never-chosen one” who once again excelled in the face of the doubters. Good for him.
The professor who surprised, challenged, terrified, or inspired you. The classroom where you did your best work—or where you hope never to set foot again. The partner from your lab or study group who drove you to distraction or became a life-long friend.
We know you’ve got stories. We want to hear ‘em.
For our next “interactive” feature, we’re looking for your most compelling classroom memories. You can tell your story in the comments below; send submissions (no more than 250 words) to email@example.com; or mail them to: The Penn Stater magazine, Hintz Family Alumni Center, University Park, PA, 16802. All submissions are due by Dec. 6. We’ll use the best of them for a feature in an upcoming issue of The Penn Stater.
What are my best classroom memories? Hey, thanks for asking. I only ever took one class where, on the final day of the semester, the entire room offered a spontaneous standing ovation for the instructor. That was Hist 143—History of Fascism & Nazism, with Prof. Jackson Spielvogel (right). The class was tremendous from start to finish—no doubt there are thousands of alumni who feel the same—but it’s the day that Holocaust survivor Kurt Moses ’11h came to speak to a rapt, standing-room-only lecture hall in Sparks Building that I’ll never forget.
Then there was Soc 119, taught by Sam Richards (below), who’d been on campus only a few years at that point and was, in the minds of many of us fairly straight-laced undergrads, some sort of enlightened hippie whose class was popular largely because it had the potential for fireworks. But there was so much more to it than that. As I learned over the course of a memorable semester, Sam’s whole thing was perspective.
And of course, it still is. Sam long ago cut his hair, but he’s hardly cut back on his approach to opening the eyes and minds of his students; in fact, through their World in Conversations program, Sam and his wife Laurie Mulvey ’94g have expanded their work to a global audience. Now, Sam lives right around the corner from me, meaning the unconventional professor who blew my undergrad mind is now the very cool guy who I occasionally get to talk about Important Stuff with over a beer at neighborhood gatherings. Who knew I’d be making classroom memories 20 years later?
Ryan Jones, senior editor
Jordan Lucas makes good: When we profiled Jordan Lucas in our Nov./Dec. 2012 issue, he was best known as the first recruit to commit to Bill O’Brien. He played sparingly as a true freshman last fall, and it was hard to say how much he’d be able to contribute to the Nittany Lions this season, or beyond. Happily—even as the Lions’ defense has struggled this fall—Lucas has been one of the bright spots. He’s the subject of an ESPN.com feature that shows a kid with lots of personality, a terrific work ethic, and a “competitive toughness” that has made him one of O’Brien’s favorite players.
100 Days ’til THON: As THON has grown, so has the significance of hitting the century mark in the annual countdown to THON weekend. This year, that’s today. Onward State is all over it, from a busy schedule of events to a list of “100 Reasons Why We Dance.”
Internationally known: A survey by the Institute of International Education lists Penn State 10th among all U.S universities in international student enrollment. A record 6,693 international students were enrolled at University Park in 2012–13.
You look like a guy I know…: Tommy Olczyk gets that a lot. The Daily Collegian profiles the ice hockey team captain, the son of former NHL standout and NBC hockey analyst Ed Olczyk, whose face appears prominently on the hockey schedule posters that are in storefront windows all over town. Of course, it’s possible that alumni who’ve seen our Sept./Oct. issue also recognize him from our cover.
Ryan Jones, senior editor
Another day, another ranking for Penn Staters to be proud of.
Especially on Veterans Day.
This one comes courtesy of U.S. News & World Report, which puts Penn State No. 1 in its new ranking of “Best Colleges for Veterans.” The nationwide survey lists 234 schools graded on everything from graduation rates and faculty resources to participation in the Yellow Ribbon Program, a federal initiative that makes college more affordable for vets. At a time when “saluting the vets” often seems more about words than actions, and when many veterans still struggle to find jobs on their return to civilian life, it’s encouraging to see the many tangible ways Penn State works to give current and former military members a chance to succeed.
Ryan Jones, senior editor
Twenty years later, a “marvelous” tribute: George Dickie, emeritus professor of landscape architecture, is the subject of a Centre Daily Times feature looking back on his role in the creation of the Vietnam Women’s Memorial. Dickie helped choose the location for the memorial and designed the setting for the sculpture, which was unveiled on Veterans Day in 1993.
State-wide advocacy: Jennifer Storm has been nominated to head the Pennsylvania Office of the Victim Advocate. Storm ’02, an abuse survivor who has spent her career working on behalf of crime and abuse victims, was nominated for the state post by Gov. Tom Corbett. She currently serves as director of the Dauphin County Victim/Witness Assistance Program.
Mixed results: The club field hockey team beat Delaware to win its second straight national championship over the weekend, the highlight of an up-and-down weekend for Penn State teams. The Nittany and Lion Lion basketball teams opened their seasons with victories, while six Penn State wrestlers won titles at the season-opening Binghamton Open.
In postseason news, the varsity field hockey squad earned a date with Princeton in the first round of the NCAA tournament, and the women’s soccer team will learn its NCAA fate when the tournament bracket is announced Monday afternoon. The men’s soccer team, Big Ten regular season champs, will open conference tourney play later this week.
As for the football team, there’s not much worth remembering from Saturday’s trip to Minneapolis, but the loss has inspired some thoughtful assessments of where the Nittany Lions stand right now. Of those I’ve had a chance to read, I thought the best came from Frank Bodani of the York Daily Record. It’s worth a read.
Rice rumors confirmed: The office of former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice confirmed over the weekend that Rice was contacted by the search firm working on the university’s behalf in its presidential search. Rice turned down Penn State’s interest to stay at Stanford, where she serves on the political science faculty.
Ryan Jones, senior editor
Hey, man, nice shot: Macklemore is a popular rap-singer—we think that’s what the kids call ‘em—who brought his popular rap-singing act to the Bryce Jordan Center last night. The Collegian gave the show an “A,” and that’s without even counting Macklemore’s apparent basketball prowess. Per his Instagram account:
And speaking of hoops: College basketball is back. The Lady Lions—ranked No. 13 and 15 in the preseason coaches and media polls, respectively—open the season tonight when they host St. Francis (Pa.) at 7 p.m. Preseason Big Ten Player of the Year Maggie Lucas leads the way for Penn State, which will hoist its 2013 Big Ten championship banner before the game.
The Nittany Lions open their season Saturday with a 4 p.m. home game against Wagner. We’ll take this opportunity to plug our profile and video of all-Big Ten guard Tim Frazier ’13, and an exclusive Q&A with coach Patrick Chambers over at The Football Letter blog.
Far afield: The busy sports weekend continues on the road, starting Friday morning when the Penn State field hockey team—which already wrapped up its second straight regular-season league title—faces Iowa in the semifinals of the Big Ten tournament. The game will air live on BTN at 10 a.m. today. And if all that sounds familiar, pay attention: The women’s soccer team also plays Iowa today in the semifinals of the B1G tournament—that game kicks off at noon, and will also air live on BTN.
Smith’s bad week gets worse: David Smith, the SUNY Upstate Medical Center president who was reportedly close to being announced as Penn State’s new president, has stepped down from his role while SUNY reviews his compensation.
Ryan Jones, senior editor
Jason Fagone ’01 is a former Penn Stater staff writer and still an occasional contributor to the magazine. We’d like it if he was a regular contributor, but we have some stiff competition for Jason’s services—namely, Wired (he’s a contributing editor) and Philadelphia (writer at large), not to mention GQ, Esquire, The New York Times Magazine, Slate, and NewYorker.com.
Happily for us—and for Jason, of course—the latest of those pesky book projects is officially done. Tuesday marks the official on-sale date for Ingenious, his second book. Fagone describes it as “an old-fashioned tale of American invention” that follows the teams racing to win the Automotive X Prize, the $10-million incentive offered to anyone who could develop a mass-producible car capable of getting the equivalent of 100 miles per gallon. The teams, and the personalities, are wildly diverse: Eccentric millionaires, Silicon Valley-backed geek squads, a group of average Joes who built a hyper-efficient car from scratch in a rural Illinois barn. (There also teams populated by high school and college students, which makes Ingenious a sibling of sorts to the Lunar Lion cover story in our Nov./Dec. issue.)
Having read an early proof over the summer, I can tell you Ingenious is a blast. You don’t have to be an engineer, or even all that interested in cars—I’m neither—to appreciate the cast of characters, the very real human drama, and Jason’s smart story telling (for a taste, you can read an excerpt on Slate). Below, our quick Q&A with Jason on why he wrote the book, what he learned, and what the story says about the present—and future—of American ingenuity.
Penn Stater: What inspired you to write Ingenious?
Fagone: I work in Philadelphia, and in early 2010, I heard about some students and teachers who make super-efficient hybrid cars at a high school in a poor section of West Philly. I thought that was interesting, so I went over to see them. And as soon as I walked into their garage, I knew there was a story here. (more…)
In the eye of the beholder: “Ugly” was the word flying around after Saturday’s 24-17 OT win over Illinois. Most fans and media agree that’s exactly what it was, while Bill O’Brien and his players, pretty much to a man, insisted that any win is a thing of beauty. Regardless of your perspective, there were some cool post-game insights from this one. Among them:
* The overtime touchdown pass from Christian Hackenberg to Kyle Carter is Bill O’Brien’s “favorite” play call—and that was before it won the game.
* Junior running back Bill Belton apologized for the goal-line fumble that almost cost the Lions the game, and thanked his teammates for bailing him out. Suffice it to say, without Belton’s 201 rushing yards—the first 200-yard game by a Penn State running back since Larry Johnson ’02 in 2002—the Lions wouldn’t have been in the game.
* And after yet another huge game from junior wideout Allen Robinson, NFL.com singled him out for praise—no doubt, a positive sign for A-Rob’s future employment.
Is that video of Bill O’Brien coaching practice on Halloween dressed as the Nittany Lion? Yes. Yes it is.
Mike McQueary, in context: Monday marks two years since Jerry Sandusky ’66, ’71g was indicted, and the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review marks the anniversary with a profile of Mike McQueary ’97, whose testimony will be central to the eventual trial of former university administrators. Trib staff writer Adam Smeltz ’05 mixes anecdotal perspectives on McQueary’s personality with expert opinions on how his testimony will impact the trial. A piece that might be worth bookmarking for whenever the trial gets underway.
A love story, and a lesson: Donald Ford, founding dean of the College of Health and Human Development, hopes the story of his relationship with his late wife—and how he helped manage her later years as she suffered from Alzheimer’s—is an inspiration for others. With Carol’s Alzheimer’s Journey, Ford ’56g combined tales from their six-decade relationship (including letters they wrote each other over the years) with his perspective on how, with creativity, help, and an impressive level of commitment, he was able to care for Carol at home even as her disease progressed. You can find out more about the book, including links to purchase it, here.
Ryan Jones, senior editor