• University accepts invitation to join Big Ten Conference.
  • President Bryce Jordan retires August 31. Joab Thomas named Penn State’s 15th President effective September 1.
  • Campaign for Penn State concludes June 30 having raised $352 million.
  • College of Science renamed Eberly College of Science to recognize the contributions of the Eberly Family.
  • College of Business Administration renamed Smeal College of Business Administration to recognize the contributions of Mary Jean and Frank P. Smeal.
  • Research Park (1st phase) begins construction. Beaver Stadium expanded by 10,300 seats.
  • Heart-assist pump designated International Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark.
  • Penn State named NASA Space Grant College.
  • National College Databank ranks Penn State 2nd in nation in number of undergraduate admission applications.


  • John A. Brighton named Executive Vice President and Provost effective July 1. Robert Dunham named Commonwealth Education System Vice President and Dean effective October 1.
  • Campaign launched to raise private funds for the Academic/Athletic Convocation and Events (Jordan) Center.
  • Leonhard Center for Innovation and Enhancement of Engineering Education and Agricultural Science and Industries Building dedicated.


  • Freshman retention initiative, “Be a Master Student,” touted as model program.
  • International student health insurance requirement established.
  • Breazeale Reactor named Nuclear Reactor Landmark by the American Nuclear Society.
  • Commission for Women and President Thomas release report advocating a series of recommendations dealing with gender equity in intercollegiate athletics at Penn State.


  • Alumni Association forms an alumni interest group with African/Black American alumni.
  • Hershey Biomedical Facility, Mateer Building, Research Park and expanded Palmer Museum of Art dedicated.
  • Million Dollar Faculty/Staff Challenge Grant issued by William & Joan Schreyer to enhance the campaign fund-raising for the University Libraries expansion is surpassed.
  • NASA names France Cordova, professor and head, Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics, named chief scientist.


  • Tim Curley named University athletic director. Carol Herrmann named Senior Vice President for Administration.
  • University and AT&T form “far-ranging” alliance to “become a leading center of telecommunications.”
  • OASIS, Open Access to Student Information System, allows easier student access to class schedules, transcripts, and grades.
  • Penn State Conference Center, “largest university-based conference center in the United States” dedicated. New Library addition named in honor of Sue and Joe Paterno.
  • All-University conference to highlight achievements of drug and alcohol prevention.
  • Committee and eligibility guidelines established for Honorary Degree awards.
  • Penn State leads nation in number of alumni who donate.


  • Graham B. Spanier named 16th president of University effective September 1, succeeding the retiring Joab Thomas.
  • Penn State Beaver, McKeesport and New Kensington campuses entered into a new alliance – the Greater Pittsburgh Commonwealth Educational System Region for Continuing Education.
  • “LionHawk” collaborative partnership between Penn State and University of Iowa “gives students with an associate degree from one institution automatic admission into the baccalaureate degree program at another.”
  • GURU, General University Reference Utility, intended to be “a one-stop electronic shopping place for University employees who are trying to locate information about Penn State policies and procedures” established.


  • Bryce Jordan Academic and Athletic Convocation Center dedicated. University Park airport expansion underway. HUB to stay open 24 hours a day.
  • Henry McDonald, Professor of Mechanical Engineering, named head of NASA’s Ames Research Center.
  • Marsh White, Penn State’s first Ph.D. recipient, turns 100.
  • Garfield Thomas Water Tunnel named national historic mechanical engineering landmark by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers.
  • U.S. President William J. Clinton addresses Graduate School Commencement, May 10.
  • State College Borough celebrates its centennial.
  • Jillian Robbins opens fire near HUB killing Melanie Spalla on September 17.
  • University helping to build Internet2.


  • Geisinger Health System and Hershey Medical Center merge.
  • Reorganization of Commonwealth Education System approved by Pennsylvania Secretary of Education.
  • University’s World Campus established.
  • Penn State merges with Dickinson Law School. Schreyer Honors College established.
  • University Budget is now available on World Wide Web. Differential tuition plan adopted.
  • Hobby-Eberly Telescope dedicated.
  • Newspaper Readership program and The Forum, a weekly, student-run online news source established.


  • Penn State inventions yield first $1 million year.
  • James Pawelczyk, assistant professor of applied physiology, first Penn State faculty member to fly on a shuttle (Space Shuttle Columbia 17-day) mission.
  • Enrollment tops 80,000 system wide.
  • School of Information Sciences and Technology created.
  • Penn State Erie celebrates 50th anniversary.


  • Rodney Erickson appointed Executive Vice President and Provost effective July 1999.
  • Teaching and Learning Consortium established.
  • Partnership with Centre Area Transportation Authority to provide free campus bus service.
  • Centre County and Penn State Visitor Center site dedicated.
  • Shaver’s Creek Dam upgrade started.
  • Preparations for Y2K, Year 2000, computer conversions undertaken.
  • Electronic Theses and Dissertations program started.
  • University teams up with IBM on e-business initiative.
  • Hershey-Geisinger merger dissolved.
  • Grand Destiny Campaign publicly kicks off with $1 billion goal in private support