Posts filed under ‘Covers’

Behind the Scenes at the Nittany Lion Photo Shoot

lion shootWe weren’t exactly sure what to expect when we scheduled a photo shoot with the Nittany Lion for our Nov./Dec. cover. Would he show up at Hintz Family Alumni Center dressed in his fur? Would he have an entourage? The fall is his busiest time of year—how long would he actually be able to stay? Photographer Bill Cardoni arrived early that October morning to set up the backdrop and test the lighting. Shortly after, the student arrived in his street clothes with a bag over his shoulders; he said hello, shook hands, and carried in a few extra props that we still needed for the story. We thought that he was making an extra trip out to his car, but then he… disappeared. I glanced at my phone and saw this text message from him: “I’m almost done getting dressed. Any last minute things you need to communicate before I can’t talk?”

Photograph by CARDONI

Photograph by CARDONI

Well, didn’t see that one coming. I replied, “I think we’re good. We’ll direct you in the shoot.” And, about five minutes after sending that text, the Lion came bouncing into the conference room. He clapped his hands, as if he were arriving at Beaver Stadium, and even passed out Penn State buttons to us. The “student” with whom I had been working on the story was nowhere to be seen, but the Lion had arrived.

Later in the shoot, the photographer asked the Lion to jump. The Lion nodded OK, gave a quick glance over his shoulder, and didn’t just “jump,” but totally stuck a backflip. When we asked him to hold the cowbell for a picture, he couldn’t help but bang on it and look toward us to deliver the “P-S-U” chant. And when he put on the “Thriller” jacket, he danced as if he was in front of 94,000 fans.

Suffice it to say, it was a pretty fun photo shoot. And when it was time to go, the Lion grabbed his things, motioned to all of us goodbye—a pat on the back, a kiss on the hand, a big wave from his furry paw—and he was gone.

Amy Downey, senior editor

November 13, 2015 at 10:46 am 1 comment

Inside Our November/December 2015 Issue

coverAlumni Association members should be getting our Nov./Dec. issue any day now. You’ll see that we take a peek inside the Nittany Lion’s closet and uncover some pretty fun props and accessories that have been passed down over the years. From a pink-and-black scarf reserved for Homecoming to a homemade Michael Jackson “Thriller” jacket worn around Halloween, we got exclusive access to the stash of props, along with the stories behind them. Learn about the two-dozen items starting on p. 40.

The magazine also includes a rare look aboard the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt where 15 Penn Staters, including two captains and one commodore, spent six months in the Persian Gulf.

Senior editor Ryan Jones embarks on a month-long culinary quest across University Park in “A Moveable Feast” and digs into what it’s really like to eat on campus these days. You’ll be surprised to learn about the quantity—and quality—of options available. (Honey-glazed parsnips, anyone?) Don’t miss Aaron Meshon’s fun illustration of campus eateries on p. 28.

You’ll also find a Q&A with Blue Band director Greg Drane ’06, who recently wrapped up five straight home football games; a story about Penn State Altoona’s new basketball coach (and former Minnesota Timberwolves forward) Doug West; and a conversation with renowned author Joan Chittister ’71 about her latest books.

Let us know what you think of the Nov./Dec. issue by commenting below or emailing us at

Amy Downey, senior editor

October 26, 2015 at 11:16 am 5 comments

Inside Our Sept./Oct. Issue

SO_cover[1]Alumni association members should be getting our Sept./Oct. issue any day now. On the cover is Caroline Bowman ’10—otherwise known as Elphaba the witch in Broadway’s Wicked. Photographer Michael Lavine captured the actress in her New York dressing room before the show—and before her nightly coating of green body paint. In “The Great (Blue and) White Way,” senior editor Ryan Jones caught up with Bowman and other theater alums making names for themselves on Broadway and beyond.

Also featured in this issue: Former Nittany Lion and NFL linebacker Tim Shaw ’06 opens up about his battle with ALS.

You’ll also find a collection of campus memories from the class of 1965. Find out what happened when a student tried stealing a case of beer out of the gymnastics coach’s garage, along with other college hijinks, in “Fraternity Dogs & Elevator Tricks.” (Artist Scotty Reifsnyder did an awesome job illustrating these stories.)

More highlights: A look at the 2015 Women’s World Cup, which featured a number of Penn Staters, including two members of the all-conquering U.S. team; an interview with Jay Paterno ’91 about a new namesake beer; and a conversation with “career student” Jesse Scott ’03a, ’06, ’10g, who has been taking classes for 14 years.

Let us know what you think of the Sept./Oct. issue by commenting below or emailing us at

Amy Downey, senior editor

August 25, 2015 at 10:50 am 8 comments

There’s a Reason We Called Them a “Dynasty”


When Catie Benson stopped by the Hintz Family Alumni Center a couple of weeks ago to pick up a box of our May/June issue, I asked her about preparations for her final collegiate rugby game. The fifth-year senior played up the quality of the opposition, a Central Washington University team in its first year of varsity status but loaded with experienced transfer players. On paper, it looked pretty evenly matched, like the Lions would have their hands full.

So much for that.

On Saturday, the Penn State women’s rugby team won its fourth straight national championship in typically dominant fashion, dispatching CWU 61-7. Katie Mueller (that’s her at rear left on our cover) was named MVP of the title game, while Hope Rogers (front and center, cradling the ball) scored a pair of tries in the romp. It’s the 10th overall championship for the Lady Ruggers, a run of dominance we had in mind when we used the word “dynasty” on that cover.

MJ_Cover_Final.inddKate Daley ’09, the former All-American who took over as the Lions’ interim coach last fall, flinched when she heard that word. Perhaps, like Catie and the rest of the team, she really thought Penn State might struggle against CWU. Or maybe she didn’t want to be seen taking an opponent lightly. Our guess? She just didn’t want to ruin the suspense.

Regardless: Congrats to Kate, Catie, Hope, and the rest of this terrific team, and thanks for making us smart.

Ryan Jones, senior editor

May 11, 2015 at 1:16 pm 1 comment

Headed Your Way: The Nov./Dec. Issue

untitledThe Nov./Dec. 2014 issue of The Penn Stater is hitting mailboxes now, and it just may be my favorite cover to date—a pretty huge statement, considering that A-lister/bus driver we featured earlier this year.

The cover art, courtesy of illustrator Aaron Meshon, is just so darn cheerful. After reading the accompanying story, a compilation of readers’ favorite memories from life in the dorms, you’ll understand what some of those crazy characters are up to. As always, the stories submitted by readers were lots of fun to read, and it wasn’t easy choosing which ones to include. We received so many great stories, in fact, that we’ll be featuring a few of the runners-up here on the blog. Stay tuned for that.

Another highlight in this issue is a story commemorating the 50th anniversary of women’s sports at Penn State. “The Long Game” features lots of archival photos and interviews with the athletes, who share detailed memories of those first years. This was the last piece former senior editor Lori Shontz ’91, ’13g wrote for us before heading to Oregon to teach journalism, and it’s just a reminder of what a thorough reporter Lori is. (We miss her—can you tell?)

You’ll also find a profile of John Kimmich ’93, owner of Alchemist Brewery in Vermont and the man behind Heady Topper—an India Pale Ale widely regarded as the best beer in the world. Kimmich overcame some major setbacks before hitting it big in the beer world, and his story’s a good one.

Also in this issue: A look back at Dr. Dick Bundy’s career as Blue Band director; a cool archeology project that brought a group of undergrads to Israel; an update on former Nittany Lion Devon Still ’11, who’s helping his four-year-old daughter, Leah, fight cancer; and more.

Had a chance to check out the new issue yet? Tell us what you think. Comment below or email

Mary Murphy, associate editor

October 28, 2014 at 3:27 pm Leave a comment

The Sept./Oct. Issue is Coming Your Way

SeptOctCoverOur Sept./Oct. issue is arriving in mailboxes this week, and that throwback shot of Ki-Jana Carter ’95 should grab your attention.

The photo is part of “What a Trip,” an eight-page oral history about the 1994 football team’s crazy, Murphy’s Law-inspired road trip to Champaign, Ill.—where the Lions went on to win the national championship. For the story, senior editor Ryan Jones ’95 interviewed 19 former players, managers, and coaches, who recalled the experience in vivid (and sometimes hilarious) detail.

Also in this issue: “For Hire,” an essay by Penn State prof Michael Bérubé, who talks about his son Jamie’s search for employment—and independence. Jamie, who is 22 and has Down syndrome, has faced some unexpected struggles since graduating from high school, and his father reflects on what it all means for Jamie’s future.

Other good stuff in the Sept./Oct. magazine: a collection of photos from an engineering class’s spring trip to China; a Q&A with investigative reporter David DeKok, who has some interesting insights into the 1969 murder of Betsy Aardsma; details on the proposed shake-ups to the Board of Trustees; an introduction to Penn State’s new AD, Sandy Barbour, and much more.

What do you think of the new issue? Let us know in the comments or email

Mary Murphy, associate editor

August 28, 2014 at 11:11 am 2 comments

Our New Issue is Headed Your Way

July August 2014The July/August 2014 issue of The Penn Stater is hitting mailboxes this week. If you’ve already received your copy, you know that the cover features a striking image of war-torn Belgium during World War I. In the cover story, “World War I Revisited,” associate professor Sophie De Schaepdrijver talks about the lessons we can still learn from the Great War. With the centennial now approaching, De Schaepdrijver’s insights are both timely—and surprising.

In another feature, titled “Critical Condition,” you’ll learn about physician-turned-filmmaker (not to mention cancer survivor) Ryan McGarry ’05. His documentary, Code Black, chronicles life in Los Angeles County Hospital’s overcrowded ER. Released in June, the film is already earning buzz on the film-festival circuit.

“Plant Life” focuses on the career of Holly Shimizu ’76, who spent 14 years as executive director of the U.S. Botanic Garden in Washington, D.C.. Along with some lovely photos, the story features Shimizu’s best tips for amateur gardeners.

Other good stuff in the issue: A fun look at all the ways the university’s latest capital campaign is helping Penn Staters; a Q&A with a labor relations prof who thinks we should all put in fewer hours (really!); and a short profile of Pennsylvania’s official wine expert, Denise Gardner ’07.

Have you received the July/August issue yet? Let us know what you think. Comment below or email

Mary Murphy, associate editor





July 2, 2014 at 8:54 am 5 comments

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