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Historical photos of Nittany Lion featured in special library exhibit

3/1/2010 —

The Penn State Beaver library will hold “The Lion’s Roar: Penn State Spirit,” a display of historical photographs of Penn State’s revered mascot, the Nittany Lion, now through May 7. The exhibit is organized and sponsored by the University Libraries.

As one of the most recognizable representatives of the University, the Nittany Lion has delighted, inspired and invoked pride in the thousands of people with whom he has interacted. The exhibit focuses on the evolution of the Lion, beginning when he only existed as a verbal taunt against the Princeton baseball team. Today, the Lion serves as a figurehead for the University that is familiar to people across the country.

Much of the Lion’s popularity can be attributed to the men behind the mask. These men transformed the role of the Nittany Lion into more than just a football persona. They also invoked school spirit when they attended less popular sports such as fencing and track.

Bob Ritzmann, Penn State’s longest reigning mascot, recalls his time in the suit from 1942–1945. He reminisces about skits he performed, journeys to away football games, and the environment of a time passed. He is one of many Nittany Lions who shared their recollections for the Libraries’ exhibit. Together, they paint a portrait of Penn State through the years.

The Lion also has been a figurehead at the Interfraternity/Panhellenic Dance Marathon, the nation’s largest student-run philanthropy. The Lion helps maintain strong morale during the 46-hour marathon for dancers who are raising money for pediatric patients at Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital. He also has been known to attend charity and community events.

As an ambassador for the University, the Nittany Lion has done more than just greet prominent visitors to campus. He has also acted as a recruiter for Penn State, encouraging children to explore the opportunities Penn State has to offer. From academics to athletics, Penn State has a strong track record in excellence.

For more information about the exhibit, contact Beaver associate librarian Marty Goldberg at mxg35@psu.edu or 724-773-3791.

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