Historical Timeline


  • Pennsylvania pioneered in the national movement to broaden higher educational opportunities for all classes of society.
  • Pennsylvania State Agricultural Society, organized 1851, urged state to improve agricultural economy through scientific education.
  • Legislation requested in 1853 resulted in 1854 charter for Farmers' High School of Pennsylvania (name chosen to differentiate from prevailing liberal arts colleges of the period); charter repealed mainly because of unworkable provisions for board of trustees (numbered sixty, most being annually-elected presidents of county agricultural societies).


  • Charter now in effect signed by Governor Pollock, February 22; first Board of Trustees president, Judge Frederick Watts of Carlisle.
  • Site in Centre County selected from nine offered throughout state; 200 acres donated by James Irvin with $10,000 pledge from citizens of Centre and Huntingdon counties.


  • Construction of Old Main (the "College Building") begun; supervised by William G. Waring, who was appointed superintendent to open the school and plan farm, orchards and nursery.


  • Legislature appropriated $25,000 for the building and promised another $25,000 if matched by other subscriptions (typical procedure at the time).
  • Library collection begun with gift of 14 publications.


  • Farmers' High School opened February 16 with 69 of the 119 students enrolled for the first year present; faculty of four.
  • "Old Willow" tree planted by Waring.
  • Dr. Evan Pugh, noted agricultural chemist, became first President in October; died in office April 1864.
  • First agricultural information bulletin published.
  • Laboratory work in chemistry begun under Dr. Pugh, who brought apparatus from Europe.