The Story behind the Mike Lynch Overlook

Have you ever considered why there is a Mike Lynch Overlook on Mt Nittany? This article, published in the June 2007 Mt Nittany News, contains the answer.

Mike Lynch: Linchpin of Mount Nittany’s First Stewardship
By Erich May, MNC Lion’s Paw Representative

New to the board, I have been inquiring about the history of the Mount Nittany Conservancy. This much is clear: before there was a conservancy, another body was steward of the mountain, and his name was Mike Lynch. “He loved that mountain,” recalled John Black, a 1962 graduate of Penn State. “He was synonymous with the mountain.”

A native of Somerset County, Mike was a student body president at Penn State. He earned a B.S. in poultry husbandry in 1945 and an M.S. in rural sociology in 1957.

He worked for the Cooperative Extension Service for nearly 35 years, first as a county agent and ultimately as an associate professor and coordinator of staff development at University Park.

Mike was a frequent climber of Mount Nittany, even before Lion’s Paw bought its tract in 1946. Later, Mike would serve as chair of Lion’s Paw’s Mountain Committee. In that capacity—and he held the post for decades—Mike would organize mountain cleanups.

“He would gather a group of people every year, because he absolutely hated that shale pit,” remembered Ken Reeves, a 1983 graduate of Penn State. “He would take people up there with literally hundreds of saplings, and they would descend on that shale pit and plant those saplings in the hopes that one or two would actually grow.”

In this and other ways, Ken said, “He made it a habit to pass on his passion to alumni, young and old.” That passion extended beyond the mountain to all things Penn State. His famous slide shows included shots from campus and seasonal sequences of Mount Nittany. At one time, his slide show was the second most popular program offered to alumni chapters, surpassed only by Coach Paterno, related Tom Kidd, a 1955 graduate of Penn State: “People would stand up and cheer after seeing the slide show, ‘For the Glory of Old State.’ He was an extraordinary fellow,” said Tom, and that sentiment is shared by all who knew Mike.

Ken remembers Mike as a sincere and caring man, and a devoted husband and father. Mike was awarded the prestigious Lion’s Paw Medal in 1980, for, among other things, “his constant glorification of Dear Old State,” and “his reverent watch over Mt. Nittany.” In the pamphlet written for the occasion, Mike described his work on Lion’s Paw’s Mountain Committee: “Our main objective there is to keep Mount Nittany free from construction and ruin, so that old grads can see the symbol of Penn State like it was when they were in school.”

Mike died in 1983 while walking into Giants Stadium to attend the first Kickoff Classic against Nebraska. “If it had to happen, it was nice that it happened on the way in, so he didn’t have to endure our loss against Nebraska,” noted John. The previous year, Penn State had beaten Nebraska in Beaver Stadium and gone on to win the National Title. But in that Kickoff Classic, the Lions lost to Nebraska 44-6, so “when Mike died, we were still number one.”

Our Mountain
by Mike Lynch

Across the silent valley stands our Mountain old and strong,
Part of our college heritage in story and in song.

Through all the natural seasons, we watch her change her face,
Shedding the white of winter to green with gentle grace.

In the heat of the summer, she grows new leaves and wood,
In the golden glow of autumn, her beauty is understood.

What is it about this Mountain, with rugged rocks and rills,
That gives we Penn Staters a thousand prideful thrills.

It’s a sense of belonging to a school that’s part of us,
In the annals of our lives, we mark it as a plus.

Today, we pledge our loyalty to our Mountain and Old State,
By doing this, we join our founders, strong and great.