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Penn State’s Leap Day History

It’s that time of every four years again, folks. No, it’s not election SZN quite yet, but it is a leap year and this Saturday will be the first February 29 to happen since 2016 — when current seniors were busy getting accepted to Penn State. Why does leap year exist? Because of some astronomy science bullshit, of course. But, we’re more interested in what happened at Penn State on this rare, forbidden day.

This Saturday also happens to be State Patty’s, so we’re sure you’ll make some ~interesting~ memories, but we’re going to turn back the clock to see Penn State’s Leap Day history.

February 29, 1828: Evan Pugh Is Born

This one is a real #TBT, so only the REAL Penn State fans will remember this happening. Evan Pugh, Penn State University’s first-ever president, was born on a leap day. Thanks to him, Penn State was designated as a land-grant institution (giving us one big, beautiful trophy). He served as president from 1859-1864 before his death at age 36 (age 9).

Although Pugh was the first Penn Stater born on a leap day, current student Charlie Nawa is carrying on the tradition for him.

February 29, 1912: Pop Golden Steps Down

According to the Penn State Collegian archives, William Nelson “Pop” Golden stepped down as athletic director on Leap Day in 1912. Golden also served as head football coach for the Nittany Lions from 1900-1902, scraping together a record of 16-12-1. Thank you for your service, Pop.

February 29, 1932: Justice For Failing Students

Are you an underclassman in the College of Liberal Arts struggling in some of your classes? The only reason you’re still allowed to attend Penn State might stem from some important school legislation passed on Leap Day 1932.

Dr. Charles W. Stoddart announced a new plan on this day allowing liberal arts underclassmen not to be expelled even if they were failing more than 50% of their classes, according to the Penn State Collegian archives. However, if you were an upperclassman, liberal arts student failing more than half your classes in 1932, you would be out of luck, as this plan only applied to underclassmen.

February 29, 1956: South Halls And Redifer Commons Construction Planned

According to the Daily Collegian archives, an expansion project of South Halls, which included the original Redifer Commons, was planned and announced on Leap Day 1956. None of the halls under this plan were named at the time, but the project detailed four different resident halls to be built behind Simmons Hall, along with a dining commons.

February 29, 1972: Noam Chomsky Speaks At Penn State

According to the Daily Collegian archives, famous psychologist and Pennsylvania native Noam Chomsky spoke to Penn State students in Schwab Auditorium on leap day 1972. Chomsky spoke to a crowd of around 650 on issues of the political purge, societal trends, and racial injustice among other hot-topics (at the time.)

February 29, 1996: Rod Stewart Performs At Penn State

Rockstar and popular artist Rod Stewart performed in one of the Bryce Jordan Center’s first-ever concerts on Leap Day in 1996, according to the Daily Collegian archives. Donning a silk suit and black converse, Stewart performed to mostly a middle-aged audience and female Penn State students, according to the article. Doesn’t sound too different from last year’s Jonas Brothers concert.

February 29, 2004: Lady Lions Win Big Ten Title

Although they went on to eventually lose the Big Ten tournament championship to Purdue, the Lady Lions claimed the regular season Big Ten title on leap day in 2004. They went into this final game of the season tied with Purdue, and pulled off the 69-60 victory in front of a home crowd at the Bryce Jordan Center, claiming the No. 1 seed in the Big Ten.

February 29, 2016: Students Start GoFundMe To Cover State Patty’s Fines

Although this wasn’t incredibly newsworthy, it may be a sign of what’s to come on leap day 2020. This will be the first time State Patty’s Day and Leap Day have fallen on the same day, so there’s certainly going to be some interesting juju in the air. Hopefully you won’t do something to warrant raising $2,000 on the internet, but if you do, it will only appear in your Snapchat memories once every 4 years thanks to Saturday’s Leap Day.

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About the Author

Ryan Parsons

Ryan is a senior business and journalism major from "Philadelphia" and is Onward State's social media manager. He writes about a lot of things, including football and hoops. If you want to gain absolutely nothing, you can follow him on Twitter @rjparsons9. Say hi via email at [email protected]

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