Some Penn State professors can now be found inside pockets and scattered across tables.
The Alumni Association produced and financed about 3,000 sets of professor trading cards this year, said Roger Williams, executive director of the association.
Ten faculty members were featured for 2008. A committee chose the professors based on awards received, major discoveries, election to the National Academies of Engineering and Sciences and the Institute of Medicine, Williams said.
"The bar is pretty high. We have a number of faculty that have jumped across that bar," he said.
Penn State President Graham Spanier came up with the idea for the cards, Williams said, and the association produced the first set of trading cards in fall 2007.
"We have a lot of great faculty out there," he said. "The response seems to be pretty positive."
University Publications Editor and Director for Penn State Jeff Hermann and his staff designed the cards, Williams said.
The 2008 cards are more modern in design, he added, as opposed to those released in 2007.
"They're a fun way for people to learn more about Penn State," Williams said. "It's nice to see the faculty getting recognized."
The trading cards are given out at the president's tailgate parties, held before each home football game, Williams said. Sets have also been given to the association's council, he added.
Evan Pugh Professor of Geosciences Richard Alley was selected for the 2008 set. "It's fun. It's a nice thing for [the association] to do. My wife and kids have gotten a big kick out of it," he said.
According to Alley's trading card, "he is a member of the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize with Al Gore."
Catharine Ross, professor and occupant of the Dorothy Foehr Huck Chair in Nutrition, said, "I've never been on a trading card before. Research is an important part of what Penn State does, so I'm pleased they chose to highlight research."
Ross was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 2003, according to her trading card.
The association intends to produce something similar in fall 2009, Williams said, adding, "We may try to go to a wider audience."
Willams also noted the attention the cards have gained in the national media.
The Associated Press and USA Today picked up on the trading cards. He said the cards are "a way of communicating academic prowess at Penn State."
Students had mixed reactions.
"Why don't the students get them?" Talani Bertram (junior-kinesiology) asked. "Instead of going on ratemyprofessor.com, I could learn more about my professors through the cards. Everyone talks about how good the school is, but you don't know until you read things like this."
Jenna Smith (junior-international politics and history) said the trading cards were innovative.
"It definitely makes me feel more appreciative of Penn State's academic reputation," she said.
Carter Amaral (freshman-finance) agreed with Bertram.
"It's cool for alumni, but I think it should be more for the students," he said.