PSU cards highlight brains, not brawn

October 8, 2008 5:19:42 AM PDT
Perennial college football powerhouse Penn State University is promoting glossy trading cards similar to those collected by sports fans. Only, there's no card for Hall of Fame football coach Joe Paterno or any of his Nittany Lions.

The 10-card set showcases top faculty members. Glaciologist Richard Alley is a featured academic star, as is entomologist James Tumlinson.

"We have many great faculty, and they are surely worthy of the accolades our society often lavishes on athletes, coaches, and celebrities in the entertainment world," school president Graham Spanier wrote in an e-mail to The Associated Press.

"We hope the cards will remind people of the important work being done by our leading scholars," he said.

The Penn State Alumni Association paid to produce the cards, which aren't for sale. Instead, they're giveaways at tailgate parties that Spanier hosts on weekends of home football games - though a set or two can be found in a reception area at an office in the Old Main administration building.

Spanier said he came up with the idea for the cards two years ago, and that he's unsure if other schools have done anything similar.

After a test run last year, the 2008 set is more glossy and colorful, with a heavy dose of Penn State blue framing the black-and-white pictures of the researchers. About 3,000 packs were printed.

"He unlocked the SECRET of the Greenland ice core," reads the front of Alley's card, his name highlighted in light blue block lettering. It shows a picture of Alley in a winter coat with a wool-lined hood over his head.

The back gives a one-paragraph mention about Alley's accomplishments - he's a member of the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize with former U.S. Vice President Al Gore.

Tumlinson studies how chemicals affect insect behavior. "His work LED to environmentally sound pest-management systems," his card boasts.

Others featured in the set include an anthropologist, a physicist and a nutritionist.


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