Map of Penn State's Commonwealth Campuses



Histories of colleges and universities are frequently written to celebrate a centennial or some other milestone in the life of the institution. This history of The Pennsylvania State University was commissioned to guide and to inform, rather than to commemorate. Charting the future is at best risky and at worst impossible without some knowledge of the past. Before Penn State can know where it is going, or where it wants to go, it must know where it has been.

This is not to say that I have written a book that is intended primarily for faculty and administrators. My aim throughout has been to present something both useful and interesting to alumni, students and their families, citizens and taxpayers of Pennsylvania, state and local history buffs, and friends of the institution, as well as to those persons professionally involved in higher education.

The book is longer than I had anticipated it would be when I began the research and writing. Yet it is still hardly more than a brief survey, so rich and varied is the University's past. The questions of what to include and what to leave out confronted me constantly. I have also endeavored, without adding substantially to the narrative's length, to place Penn State's development in a broader historical context, particularly in regard to other institutions and events within the Commonwealth.

The University administration—the sponsors of this history—in no way restricted my access to information. Nor was there at any time pressure exerted on me to show the institution or individuals connected with it in a favorable light or, conversely, to avoid discussing topics that might reflect unfavorably on the University.

So many people helped to make this book possible that if I attempted to acknowledge each of them, I would surely omit someone. Thus a collective note of appreciation must suffice in most cases. I do wish to extend my gratitude to Richard E. Grubb, who, as Senior Vice President for Administration, supervised the Penn State history project—initiated during the presidency of John W. Oswald—and was a continual source ofadvice, encouragement, and assistance. I also offer specific thanks to Leon J. Stout, curator of the Penn State Room and University archivist, who generously made available his time and expertise and read several versions of the manuscript, and to Cynthia J. Ahmann and Lark Miller of the Penn State Room staff. Robert Arbuckle, the late Milton S. Eisenhower, George T. Harrell, Kenneth Holderman, Daniel W. Hollis, Ross B. Lehman, James Milholland, Jr., Raymond 0. Murphy, Margaret T. Riley, Jerry Schwartz, Ronald A. Smith, William K. Ulerich, and M. Lee Upcraft read all or parts of the manuscript and made valuable suggestions for its improvement. Sharon Becker and Polly Wilson provided secretarial and logistical support. Finally, I am especially indebted to two former Penn State deans: Nunzio J. Palladino of Engineering, without whose initiative this history might not have been written, and Samuel H. Smith of Agriculture, who patiently allowed me to put aside other responsibilities so that I might see this book through to its completion.

Michael Bezilla
August 1985