Hundreds attend Founders' Day and Panther unveiling

A crowd of about 500 students, faculty, staff, alumni and community members attended the Founders' Day celebration Sept. 3, marking the 50th anniversary since the school opened its doors on Sept. 3, 1963. 

The day's ceremonies focused on the university's five decades of academic excellence and the strength of the enduring relationship between the civic leaders of Bradford and the university.

"The fascinating story of the birth of the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford is first and foremost a story of a region and its people," said Dr. Livingston Alexander, president, in his remarks. "It's a story of the ingenuity and determination of the people of this community and of their commitment to making education accessible to future generations."

Other speakers reflected on Pitt-Bradford, its progress and meaning to the community in their remarks. Those were Dr. Richard E. McDowell, president emeritus; Craig Hartburg, chairman of the Pitt-Bradford Advisory Board; Chris Napoleon, president of the Pitt-Bradford Alumni Association; Dr. Richard Melka, president of the faculty senate; Tonya Ackley, president of the Pitt-Bradford Staff Association; and Yara Elbeshbishi, president of the Student Government Association.

A final highlight of the afternoon was the unveiling of a 10 ½-foot-long bronze panther statue created by Bradford native David Hodges. Hodges, who lives in Montana and specializes in Western art, studied real wildcats while creating the lifelike work.

The panther statue was first proposed by members of the Student Government Association in 2009. Over the next few years, student government pledged $35,000 out of its student funds toward the cost of the panther. Five former SGA presidents were on hand to unveil the panther with current student government president Elbeshbishi, a chemistry major from Montgomery Village, Md: Jessica Visseau Resig '09; Timothy Woughter '10; Jacob Loree '11; and Erik Austin '12. Elizabeth Tillman '13 could not attend.

"The panther statue will forevermore remain a symbol of our students' devotion and commitment to this campus," Alexander said.

Napoleon spoke directly about the panther, Pitt's mascot since 1909. "The panther is the most formidable creature indigenous to Pennsylvania, and the hue of its golden coat reflects the gold in the university's colors. We now have our own panther as a symbol to lead us forward."

Alexander later noted that the rock that the Pitt-Bradford panther occupies came from the same quarry that provided stone for the Pittsburgh campus's iconic Cathedral of Learning