One Penn State employee is responding to criticisms related to Penn State’s culture by demonstrating three decades of university tradition.
Steve Manuel , senior lecturer in the college of communications, former Marine, and award-winning photojournalist, held the latest installment of Penn State’s Forum Speaker Series at the Penn Stater Hotel and Conference Center Tuesday.
The presentation, titled “Penn State University As Seen Through A Lens,” contained a 30-year retrospective of Manuel’s photography of the university and was presented to various Penn State colleges, faculty and other members of the university community.
“I’m going to be talking about the culture of Penn State,” Manuel said before the event. He said the presentation was, in part, a response to the criticism of Penn State’s culture by the NCAA following the Jerry Sandusky sex abuse case.
“The Penn State community is just as strong, or stronger than it was almost 160 years ago, and that’s because of the people,” Manuel said. “We had one bad apple who committed a crime, but this is still a great place to be.”
The presentation contained pictures from the last three decades of Manuel’s involvement at Penn State from his time in the Marines to his current professorship. The subjects of the photos ranged from Penn State sporting events, artistic shots from across campus and members of the university community.
During the slideshow, Manuel described how he came to be involved with Penn State while he was still in the Marines.
“I married into a Penn State family,” Manuel said, despite never being a Penn State fan before. He first came to campus in the late 70s, where he attended a football game and toured the campus. He said he loved everything about the experience, “but it was more than that… it just had a feel to it.”
By 1985, Manuel said he was deeply entrenched in Penn State culture, when he flew a PSU flag at his residence in Okinawa, Japan and convinced Japanese authorities to air a Penn State championship football game live.
Manuel compared Penn State to the cultures of both Okinawa and the military. He said that Penn State shares a feeling of openness and kindness with the culture of Okinawa, and that the culture of the military is made of youth around college age, people contributing to the common good and a rich, historic tradition –– -all traits shared with Penn State, Manuel said.
“[Manuel] has seen the University from a perspective that most of us don’t,” said Christian Brady , dean of the Schreyer Honors College and chairman of the Forum Series board that chose Manuel to speak.
“In his images we got to see the diversity of what Penn State is,” Brady said.
Julie Nelson , class news editor and advertising manager of the Penn Stater magazine, said she comes to as many of the Forum Series events as possible and was excited to hear Manuel’s presentation.
“[These events] are always good for professional development and to learn different aspects of campus,” she said.
Manuel ended his presentation with the idea of moving on from last year’s Sandusky sex abuse case, a theme that was present through his speech. He said Penn State’s culture had been formed by a long history of successful people, “and the misdeeds of a few can never undo that process.”
“We will continue to march forward,” Manuel said.