Those two words, just five letters, are the battle cry of every Nittany Lion. With the response, “Penn State!” the phrase says not that the university is where you attended but that you are part of the fabric of the school’s community.
And now, it stands tall on campus.
On Tuesday, the university installed a 12-foot sculpture of Penn State’s prideful call, rendered in shining steel letters standing on a rock-solid concrete foundation. The art installation is a gift from the Class of 2013 and stands at the corner of University Drive and Curtin Road near the Intramural Building.
The sculpture, designed by State College Area High School grad and Penn State alumnus Jonathan Cramer, was approved in January 2014, but the finished product represents almost two years of work.
“I think this gift really expresses the pride we feel for this university, and I hope it will inspire that same pride in all the classes to come after us,” said Morgan Delaware, overall chair of the Senior Class Gift Committee, when announcing the gift in 2012.
Graduating classes have been leaving their marks on the campus for generations. Sometimes they put their names to icons like the Nittany Lion shrine (originally given by the Class of 1940), but sometimes the gifts are bigger or smaller, visible or quiet.
“They run from landmark, high-profile locations and rooms in buildings to scholarships or book funds,” said Geoff Hallett, assistant director of annual giving.
Sometimes, he said, they represent ways the class can step up and help with something the university had already planned. The Class of 2012, for example, added to the value of the Nittany Lion shrine by funding a project to make it more accessible, something Penn State officials had already identified as a need.
Others put money toward projects that are not on the administration’s radar but still work toward the overall goals of Penn State.
“I think this is a little bit of both,” Hallett said. “There is lot of pride and history and lore behind the ‘We Are’ chant, and it conveys that sense of unity among all Penn Staters. Plus, it is in a very high-traffic location. Every visitor to campus is going to see this testament to Penn State unity.”