Fun facts about Penn State University


Nestled in the picturesque landscapes of central Pennsylvania, Penn State University stands tall as a premier institution of higher education, renowned for its academic excellence, vibrant campus life, and storied history. Since its establishment in 1855, the university has grown into a powerhouse of knowledge and innovation, fostering the growth and success of countless students. Beyond its academic prowess, Penn State is also a treasure trove of intriguing facts and captivating tales that are sure to enthrall both students and visitors alike. Join us on an exhilarating journey as we explore the fascinating world of Penn State University, unearthing its hidden gems and sharing some delightful fun facts along the way.

Fun facts about Penn State University

The Legendary Nittany Lion

Nestled at the heart of Penn State’s identity is the Nittany Lion, a symbol that embodies the spirit, resilience, and pride of the university community. Derived from the mountain lions that once roamed the region, the Nittany Lion is a beloved mascot revered by students and alumni. The statue of the Nittany Lion, located at the entrance of Penn State’s University Park campus, is a popular spot for students to gather and celebrate their allegiance. Don’t be surprised if you hear spirited chants of “We Are!” followed by an enthusiastic “Penn State!” resonating across the campus, as the Nittany Lion serves as a unifying force, binding the Penn State family together.

Legend has it that the spirit of the Nittany Lion bestows good luck upon those who touch the lion’s paws before exams or important events. It has become a cherished tradition for students to seek the lion’s blessing for success. The Nittany Lion’s impact extends beyond the realm of sports, transcending into academics and community service. Its indomitable spirit echoes in the achievements of Penn State students and faculty members, inspiring them to strive for greatness in every endeavor.

Old Main: The Historic Icon

As one wanders through Penn State’s enchanting campus, it is impossible to overlook the grandeur of Old Main, a majestic building that serves as a symbol of the university’s rich heritage. Constructed in 1863, Old Main stands as the oldest building on campus and holds a special place in the hearts of the Penn State community. Its stately presence, with a clock tower reaching towards the sky, evokes a sense of awe and reverence.

Beyond its architectural splendor, Old Main has played a significant role in shaping the university’s destiny. It housed the entire university in its early years, serving as classrooms, administrative offices, and even living quarters for some students. Today, it serves as the administrative hub and symbolizes the university’s commitment to excellence and tradition.

One captivating fact about Old Main is that it is rumored to be haunted. Numerous stories and legends circulate among students and staff, recounting eerie encounters and unexplained phenomena. Whispers of ghostly apparitions and mysterious footsteps only add to the allure of this historic landmark. Whether one believes in the supernatural or not, the tales surrounding Old Main contribute to the mystique and charm of Penn State’s campus.

The Arboretum at Penn State: Nature’s Oasis

Amidst the bustling academic environment, Penn State offers a tranquil escape at the Arboretum—a hidden gem that showcases the beauty of nature. Spanning over 370 acres, the Arboretum is a sanctuary of serenity, inviting visitors to explore its diverse gardens, tranquil ponds, and captivating sculptures. It serves as a living laboratory for horticulture students, offering hands-on experiences in landscaping and environmental stewardship.

One of the Arboretum’s highlights is the H.O. Smith Botanic Gardens, which boasts a stunning collection of plants from various regions and ecosystems. Visitors can meander through themed gardens, such as the Rose and Fragrance Garden, the Overlook Garden, and the Childhood’s Gate Children’s Garden, each offering a unique sensory experience.

In addition to its natural wonders, the Arboretum hosts a range of educational programs and events throughout the year. From guided tours and workshops to art exhibits and concerts, there is always something captivating happening amidst the lush greenery. The Arboretum also serves as a picturesque venue for weddings, providing a romantic setting where love and nature intertwine.

The Penn State Creamery: A Taste of Tradition

No exploration of Penn State would be complete without indulging in the delectable delights of the Penn State Creamery. With a history dating back to 1865, the creamery has earned a reputation for crafting some of the finest ice creams and dairy products in the nation. It is a cherished tradition for students and alumni to savor scoops of their favorite flavors, from the classic Peachy Paterno to the innovative Bittersweet Mint.

What sets the Penn State Creamery apart is its commitment to quality and freshness. The creamery sources its milk from a dedicated herd of cows on the university’s campus, ensuring that the ice cream is made with the purest ingredients. Visitors can witness the magic of ice cream production through a viewing window, observing skilled artisans churning out batch after batch of creamy goodness.

The creamery’s popularity extends far beyond the boundaries of Penn State. Its ice cream has garnered numerous awards and accolades, cementing its status as a true Pennsylvania gem. So, whether you’re a die-hard fan of frozen treats or simply seeking a delightful culinary experience, a visit to the Penn State Creamery is an absolute must.

Penn State’s Impact on Space Exploration

While Penn State’s influence spans across a multitude of disciplines, one fascinating aspect lies in its contributions to space exploration. The Applied Research Laboratory (ARL), a leading research facility at Penn State, has played a vital role in advancing aerospace technology. ARL has collaborated with NASA on various projects, including the development of advanced propulsion systems and materials for spacecraft.

Penn State’s commitment to space exploration is further exemplified by its involvement in the Lunar Lion, an ambitious mission to send a robotic spacecraft to the moon. Led by Penn State students, the Lunar Lion project aimed to claim the Google Lunar XPRIZE—an international competition to land a privately funded spacecraft on the moon. Although the mission did not meet the deadline, it showcased the university’s ingenuity, innovation, and passion for pushing the boundaries of human achievement.

Beyond the realms of research, Penn State has produced a significant number of alumni who have made their mark in the field of space exploration. From astronauts like Guion Bluford, the first African American in space, to engineers and scientists working at prestigious institutions like NASA and SpaceX, Penn State graduates continue to shape the future of space exploration and inspire generations to reach for the stars.


Penn State University is more than just a center for academic excellence—it is a tapestry woven with captivating stories, traditions, and achievements. From the legendary Nittany Lion to the haunting charm of Old Main, from the serenity of the Arboretum to the irresistible flavors of the Penn State Creamery, and from groundbreaking contributions to space exploration to the remarkable alumni who have left their mark on the world, Penn State’s allure is truly remarkable. These fun facts only scratch the surface of the vibrant tapestry that awaits those who venture into the captivating world of Nittany Lions. So, embrace the spirit of Penn State, immerse yourself in its rich history, and let the journey of discovery unfold.