Q: What is the significance of the statue at Penn State Scranton?

What's up with that?

photo of The University of Family sculpture at Penn State Scranton, courtesy Morgan Sewack

A: The 10-foot-tall statue on the hill that greets visitors to the Scranton campus is named The University as Family. It is the work of Oliver LaGrone, who was the artist-in-residence for 19 Penn State campuses in 1975. He donated the sculpture to the campus a year later. The sculpture depicts a family of four; the father is holding a piece of coal, which is a nod to the mineral’s importance in the region. “[For] the families—husbands, wives, daughters, and young sons—whose lives were spent building the community of Scranton out of the depths of the tunneled coal mines—the university is seen as an extension of that unified community which serves the growth and opportunity of future generations,” LaGrone said of the inspiration for the piece. LaGrone, who died in 1995, also donated a smaller sculpture, The Dancer, which resides in the reference section of the campus library. A smaller version of The University as Family stands in the Rowland Sculpture Garden at Penn State Harrisburg, and LaGrone created a bust of his friend Paul Robeson for the Paul Robeson Cultural Center at University Park