University of Pittsburgh
August 20, 2013

Pitt Class of 2017 to Attempt to Break Guinness World Record

Aug. 21 attempt inspired by 1920 photograph of Pitt faculty and students forming a “living panther”
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PITTSBURGH—More than 3,500 incoming freshmen at the University of Pittsburgh will attempt to break the Guinness World Record for The Largest Animal Image Formed by Humans” at 4 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 21, on the Petersen Events Center Lawn.

As part of new-student orientation, students will form the shape of Pitt’s panther mascot, a nod to the Pitt faculty and students of 1920 who were photographed as a “living panther."

According to, the current record for “The Largest Animal Image Formed by Humans” is 1,311 people who formed the shape of a white stork at a school in Poland in 2010.

Vice Provost and Dean of Students Kathy Humphrey initiated the annual tradition of incoming classes attempting a world record in 2010.

“The Guinness World Record attempt will unite the class of 2017 and give them an immediate bond and connectivity to each other,” said Humphrey. “Research has shown that students who connect to their University and classmates early have an easier adjustment to college and a higher retention rate.”

In previous years, incoming Pitt classes have broken the record for:

  • “The Largest Torch Lit Logo” (2010), spelling out PITT in block letters;
  • “The Largest Glow Stick Design” (2011), forming an image of the Cathedral of Learning;
  • and “The Largest Cupid Shuffle Dance” (2012), during a tribute to the late Pitt alumnus and legendary dancer Gene Kelly (A&S ’33).

The attempt is one of more than 100 events planned during the week to help new students acclimate to Pitt and to Pittsburgh. Events include sessions on study skills, finances, and career planning and programs for physical, mental, and emotional wellness, in addition to leisure events such as a Pittsburgh Music Showcase, karaoke, bingo, and bowling.

The week will wrap up with a student activities fair on the afternoon of Sunday, Aug. 25, followed by the University’s Lantern Night, a Pitt tradition since 1920.

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