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Pennsylvania State University

Updated on August 28, 2010

Pennsylvania State University is a coeducational institution of higher learning, controlled by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. It is officially located at University Park, formerly part of State College, in the Nittany Mountains in the central area of the state.

The Pennsylvania State University was chartered by the legislature in 1855 as the Farmers' High School for the purpose of spreading "a knowledge of the English language, grammar, geography, history, mathematics, chemistry and such other branches of the natural and exact science as will conduce to the proper education of a farmer." Instruction was begun in 1859. In 1862 the school became the state agricultural college, and in 1863, under the terms of the Morrill Act of 1862, it became Pennsylvania's land-grant college. The name was changed to The Pennsylvania State College in 1874. A graduate school was established in 1922, although graduate instruction dates from far earlier. Its present designation, The Pennsylvania State University, was adopted in 1953.

The university is financed by federal grants, state legislative appropriations, students' fees, sponsored research, and sales and services of educational departments. Administration is by a board of trustees, some of them appointed by the governor of Pennsylvania and others elected by alumni and county agricultural and industrial societies.

The university is made up of a number of colleges- agriculture, business administration, science, education, engineering, human development (formerly home economics), liberal arts, earth and mineral sciences, health and physical education, arts and architecture, and medicine. There are also a graduate school, departments of military and naval science, a division of counseling, a continuing-education program, and a summer session. Students may work for bachelor's, master's, or doctor's degrees.

In addition to the main campus at University Park, the university includes a campus at Her-shey, where the college of medicine is located, the Capital Campus at Middletown, and a graduate center at King of Prussia for engineering. Its 18 Commonwealth campuses throughout the state offer freshman and sophomore programs and two-year programs leading to associate degrees. The college of agriculture extension service has staff members in each of the state's counties. Foreign-study programs are available in France, West Germany, Spain, Italy, and Costa Rica. Noteworthy university buildings include Old Main, the first campus structure, which has been twice rebuilt with the original stones; the Arts Center for music and theater; the Computation Center; the Helen Eakin Eisenhower Chapel; and the Pavilion Theatre. The library holds special collections on aeronautics, American literature, Australian art and literature, Bibles, Latin American sociology, Pennsylvania history, Renaissance life and literature, and United Steel Workers records. It also has material on Joseph Priestley and John O'Hara. The university press publishes many hardback books annually. A number of periodicals are issued by the university, including Earth and Mineral Sciences, Pennsylvania Business Survey, and Pennsylvania Farm Economics. Also published are Chaucer Review, Inquiry, and Modem International Drama. Pennsylvania State University's enrollment exceeds 90,000.


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