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January 2010  
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Paterno and Protests: The 1960s at Penn State
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Paterno and Protests: The 1960s at Penn State

What will 2010 be remembered for at Penn State? Too soon to tell. But thanks to The Daily Collegian, the student-written “first draft” of Penn State’s history, it’s easy to go back and see what was making headlines during the last 50 years and before.

Here’s a listing of some of the quirkiest, most controversial or otherwise interesting news stories of each year during the increasingly turbulent 1960s. These stories were culled from the pages of The Collegian and the book, The Collegian Chronicles: A History of Penn State From the Pages of The Daily Collegian, 1887–2006, published by the Collegian Alumni Interest Group in 2006 and available for purchase on The Collegian Store.

The stories are an admittedly subjective sampling of what was making news on campus during a decade that started with unbridled optimism and ended in campus strife at Penn State and college campuses nationwide. Want to add your memories of noteworthy news? E-mail asf1@psu.edu, and please include your graduation year and the current city and state where you live. We might publish your memories in a future edition of AlumnInsider

Article related photo.1960
The Nittany Lions play in the new 46,000-seat Beaver Stadium (at its current location) for the first time, shutting out Boston University 20-0 before a crowd of 23,000. Before the 1960 season, the stadium had been dismantled at its former location near Rec Hall and moved across campus to its current site. 

1961
Penn State’s term system—with four equal 10-week terms and 75-minute classes—replaces semesters and 50-minute classes. As a result, a student enrolled year round can complete a bachelor’s degree in three years. 

1962
Sally Reynolds, a 5’11” former fashion model who averaged 22 points per game while on her high school basketball team, asks to try out for the men’s basketball team telling The Collegian she “misses basketball the way some girls miss their boyfriends.” Her request is denied. The Penn State’s women’s basketball team would play its first season three years later in 1965.

1963
Ella Fitzgerald performs in Rec Hall in a February concert sponsored by the Penn State Jazz Club. Later that year, President John F. Kennedy’s assassination rocks the campus.

Article related photo.1964
An estimated 5,000 jubilant Penn State students celebrate Penn State’s unexpected 27-0 upset of then No. 2 Ohio State in Columbus on Nov. 7 by, among other things, carrying a VW Beetle onto the President’s House lawn and frolicking in the pond. That year, students, alumni and faculty alike were protesting the demolition of the beloved Armory Building.

1965
Martin Luther King Jr. spoke to 8,000 people in Rec Hall less than two months after winning the Nobel Peace Prize. The first Pennsylvania State Store—selling wine and liquor—opens in State College. Before that, students engaged in the longstanding tradition of “Milk Runs” to Bellefonte, previously home of the nearest State Store.

1966
Following Rip Engle’s retirement, Joe Paterno is named head football coach and, in an unprecedented move, announces he is retaining the entire coaching staff. Paterno disclosed 40 years later that his first contract was for $20,000.

1967
Dress codes are relaxed on campus. Men are still required to wear jackets and ties for Sunday noon meals but not for evening meals. Women must wear skirts at Sunday noon meals and candlelight dinners, rather than for all evening meals.

Article related photo.1968
The Nittany Lion football team, in Joe Paterno’s third season as head coach, goes 10-0 in the regular season (the first unbeaten untied season since 1912) and beats Kansas 15-14 in the Orange Bowl. Despite a perfect record, the team finishes second to Ohio State in the final Associated Press Poll. The story was repeated the next season when the Nittany Lions were again undefeated but finish second in the final AP Poll after President Richard Nixon famously declared the Texas Longhorns the national champions.

1969
The tumultuous year starts off with members of the Douglass Association building a brick wall in President Eric Walker’s office, symbolizing their dissatisfaction with the University’s response to the group's demands to recruit more black students (fewer than 300 black men and women were on campus at the time) and black faculty (fewer than five). Protests continued throughout the year, including protesting the Vietnam War.


Want more? Collegian stories are available online through The Daily Collegian Online (current news and more recent back issues) and the Historical Digital Collegian Archive (1887–1987).


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