Let's imagine, for a moment, what a Pennsylvania state might be like without Pennsylvania State.
Sure, there are the easy answers: No Creamery. No Interfraternity Council/Panhellenic Dance Marathon. No Nittany Lions football or Nittany Lion shrine. You wouldn't be reading this now, either.
But the university's absence in the commonwealth would take away far more than the traditions and symbols that go along with it.
Say goodbye to at least some of the 44,000 University Park students and 32,000 at Commonwealth Campuses — about a quarter of them hail from out-of-state to begin with.
The state would also be without one of its top job sources. Alongside other state-related schools — the University of Pittsburgh, Temple and Lincoln — Penn State is part of the state's largest non-governmental employer, according to a joint statement the schools presented last year. The schools noted that they also collectively add more than $13 billion to the state's economy.
Then there are the contributions that are often overlooked: the medical services, the community outreach programs, the research breakthroughs and more.
Take Penn State or the other state-related schools out of the picture, and it doesn't just hurt students, faculty and staff — the state's 12.7 million citizens would also, directly or indirectly, take a hit.
And with a state budget deadline looming this weekend, the fates of Penn State and other state-related schools are again on the line.
When it debuted in February, Gov. Tom Corbett's proposal saw Penn State set to lose about 30 percent of its state funding — this, one year after that funding was slashed by $68 million, or 19.6 percent.
Legislators reversed Corbett's proposed cuts to Penn State in the version of the budget now on the table, and it's good to see at least some of our leaders sticking up for students.
Still, under the new plan the university would get the same level of funding it did in 2011, putting it in a position to yet again potentially raise tuition or face more of the program cuts it's seen in recent years.
Of course, Penn State won't disappear if it's faced with another year of bleak funding — but if the trend keeps up, it’s hard to imagine that the school will remain the kind of academic and economic engine it has been for Pennsylvania.
Let’s hope those in the capital keep that in mind.