- One hundred and twenty-fifth anniversary of the University marked on February 22, 1980, celebrated in many forms including a "People to People" statewide media relations campaign, a University oral history project, numerous events designated as official anniversary observances, a telegram of congratulations from President Carter and resolutions from the Legislature.
- Public radio station, affiliated with National Public Radio (NPR), authorized.
- University Scholar Program begins with 325 students enrolled.
- Sara George, sophomore economics major, is first Penn State winner of a $20,000 Harry S. Truman Scholarship.
- Dr. Bryce Jordan, Chief Operating Officer for Academic Affairs of the University of Texas System is elected the 14th President of The Pennsylvania State University effective July 1, 1983.
- Academic Information System (AIS) development initiated by fully-computerized Student System; other components to be integrated are Budget Operations and Planning, Business Services, Facilities/Property Inventory, Financial, and Human Resources.
- Football team (11-1) wins national championship with victory over Georgia in Sugar Bowl.
- University Commission on Women established, charged to improve the environment for the performance of women faculty, staff, and students.
- Advanced Technology Center of Central and Northern Pennsylvania established under grant from State's Ben Franklin Partnership, one of four centers in state to promote university-industrial cooperation and foster economic development.
- Library Information Access System (LIAS) introduced to provide on-line computerized catalog information for University Libraries' users at all locations.
- First Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) Imaging System in the Commonwealth established at Hershey Medical Center.
- Major gifts and grants are announced: H. Thomas Hallowell, Jr., donates $1 million to the College of Engineering, largest gift ever from a living individual; Homer F. Braddock bequest of $5.6 million for scholarships in Science is largest single bequest in Penn State history.
- The student system module of the Administrative Information System (AIS) is implemented. Giant database management system accessible from all campuses covers: undergraduate admissions, academic records, graduate school, housing, billing and accounts receivable, and financial aid.
- William C. Richardson is named Executive Vice President and Provost.
- "Penn State Heart" developed by team head by Prof. William S. Pierce at Hershey approved for use as temporary "bridge" implant by U.S. Food and Drug Administration; Anthony Mandia, 44, of Philadelphia is first recipient.
- NASA chooses Penn State as prime contractor to design sensors for the Advanced X-Ray Astrophysics Facility -- the orbiting x-ray telescope scheduled to be launched from the space shuttle in 1991; Applied Research Laboratory awarded three-year $80 million contract by U.S. Navy for research and development of undersea technology.
- William A. Schreyer `48, Chairman and CEO of Merrill Lynch & Co., Inc. named Chairman of the Campaign for Penn State.
- Corporation for Penn State established to conduct support activities on behalf of the University, Trustee officers and committee chairs and senior University administrative officers constitute the Board of Directors.
- College of Health and Human Development created by merger of Colleges of Health, Physical Education and Recreation with Human Development.
- Football team concludes undefeated 1986 season with National Championship victory over the University of Miami in the Fiesta Bowl on January 2, 1987.
- The Campaign for Penn State is formally launched at a gala celebration featuring White House Chief of State Donald T. Regan; $10 million gift from the Eberly Family Charitable Trust funds 8 chairs in the College of Science and provides million dollar endowments to the Biotechnology Institute and for science programs at Fayette, second largest gift in Penn State history.
- University adopts new graphic identity system and University Mark to assure consistent use of visual devices across the institution.
- Alumni Association records 100,00th member making it the second largest in the United States.
- Black students occupy Telecommunications Building to dramatize concerns of Black community, charges of trespassing are later dropped as administration begins direct meetings with Concerned African-Americans at Penn State (CAAPS).
- King of Prussia Center for Graduate Studies and Continuing Education moves and is officially designated Penn State Great Valley.
- The Campaign for Penn State: goal of Campaign raised from $200 to $300 million and campaign extended another year to 1990.
- The Campaign for Penn State surpasses its goal of $300 million seven months ahead of schedule with $10 million gift from Frank and Mary Jean Smeal for faculty endowments in College of Business Administration, Smeal's gift is largest ever by an individual.
- Enrollment surpasses 70,000 students for first time ever.
- Williamsport Area Community College legally transfer to Penn State System becoming Pennsylvania College of Technology, a wholly-owned affiliate of Penn State.
- Penn State is designated a Space Grant University by NASA with the awarding of $1.25 million over five years to provide fellowships, courses, lab experiences and other programs to communicate the significance of space science.