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Pennsylvania State University

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Pennsylvania State University
Former name
Farmer's High School of Pennsylvania (1855–1862)
Agricultural College of Pennsylvania (1862–1874)
The Pennsylvania State College (1874–1953)
Dickinson School of Law (1834–2000)
The Chestnut Street Female Seminary (1850–1883)
The Ogontz School for Girls (1883–1950)
Wyomissing Polytechnic Institute (1930–1958)
Pennsylvania State Forest Academy (1903–1929)
Motto"Making Life Better"
On seal: "Virtue, Liberty, and Independence"
TypePublic state-related land-grant research university
EstablishedFebruary 22, 1855; 169 years ago (1855-02-22)
Academic affiliations
Endowment$4.5 billion (2022)[1]
Budget$8.6 billion (2022-23)[2]
ChairpersonMatthew W. Schuyler[3]
PresidentNeeli Bendapudi[4]
ProvostJustin Schwartz[5]
Academic staff
Administrative staff
 • 46,723 (University Park)
 • 39,809 (University Park)
 • 6,092 (University Park)
Location, ,

40°47′54″N 77°51′36″W / 40.79833°N 77.86000°W / 40.79833; -77.86000
CampusSmall city, 7,343 acres (2,972 ha)
Total (statewide), 22,484 acres (9,099 ha)[9]
Other campuses
ColorsBlue and white
Sporting affiliations
MascotNittany Lion Edit this at Wikidata
ASN3999 Edit this at Wikidata
Official nameAg Hill Complex
CriteriaEvent, Architecture/Engineering
DesignatedJanuary 12, 1979[10]
Reference no.79002191
Official nameFarmers' High School
CriteriaEvent, Architecture/Engineering
DesignatedSeptember 11, 1981[11]
Reference no.81000538
Official namePennsylvania State University, The
DesignatedApril 30, 1947[12]

The Pennsylvania State University, commonly referred to as Penn State and sometimes by the acronym PSU, is a public state-related land-grant research university with campuses and facilities throughout Pennsylvania. Founded in 1855 as Farmers' High School of Pennsylvania,[13] Penn State was named the state's first land-grant university eight years later, in 1863. Its primary campus, known as Penn State University Park, is located in State College and College Township.

In addition to its land-grant designation, the university is a sea-grant, space-grant, and one of only six sun-grant universities. It is classified among "R1: Doctoral Universities – Very high research activity" and is a member of the Association of American Universities (AAU).[14][15] The university has two law schools: Penn State Law on the school's University Park campus and Penn State Dickinson Law in Carlisle. The College of Medicine is in Hershey. The university maintains 19 commonwealth campuses and five special mission campuses located across Pennsylvania.[16]

The university competes in the Big Ten Conference in Division I of the NCAA for most of its athletic teams, known collectively as the Penn State Nittany Lions. Since its founding, Penn State has won 82 national collegiate team championships, including 54 NCAA titles across all sports, and Penn State students, alumni, faculty, and coaches have won a total of 60 Olympic medals, including 17 gold medals.

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  • This is Penn State



19th century

Old Main at Penn State, in 1855
The university's Electrical Engineering and Chemistry Building, c. 1894

Pennsylvania State University was founded in 1855 when James Irvin, a U.S. Congressman from Bellefonte, donated 200 acres (0.8 km2) of land in Centre County[17] to the newly-established Farmers High School of Pennsylvania, representing the first of 10,101 acres (41 km2) the school eventually acquired.

The same year, on February 22, the Pennsylvania General Assembly designated the school a degree-granting institution.[18][17] Initially sponsored by the Pennsylvania State Agricultural Society, the use of "college" or "university" was avoided in the school's naming since local Pennsylvanians perceived that such institutions were impractical in their curricula.

In 1862, the school's name was changed to the Agricultural College of Pennsylvania. The following year, in 1863, the Morrill Land-Grant Acts was passed by the U.S. Congress, and Pennsylvania selected the school to be the state's sole land-grant college.[17] Two years later, in 1874, the school's name was changed to the Pennsylvania State College.[17]

By 1875, enrollment fell to 64 undergraduates, and the school attempted to balance its primary focus on agricultural studies with classic education.[19] In 1882, George W. Atherton was named the school's president; Atherton set about broadening the curriculum beyond its agricultural focus.

The school developed an engineering studies program that immediately became one of the nation's ten largest engineering schools.[20][21]

A major road in State College was later named in Atherton's honor. Penn State's Atherton Hall, a well-furnished and centrally located residence hall, was named after George Atherton's wife, Frances Washburn Atherton.[22][23]

20th century

In the 20th century, Penn State grew significantly, becoming the largest grantor of baccalaureate degrees in Pennsylvania. In 1936, its enrollment reached 5,000.[19] Around this time, Ralph D. Hetzel, the school's president, established a commonwealth of colleges to provide an alternative for Depression-era students who were economically unable to leave home to attend college.[19]

In 1953, President Milton S. Eisenhower, the brother of then-U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower, sought and won permission to elevate the school to university status, and it assumed its current name, The Pennsylvania State University.[24] Under Eisenhower's successor, Eric A. Walker, the university acquired hundreds of acres of surrounding land, and enrollment nearly tripled.[19]

In 1967, the Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, a college of medicine and hospital, was established in Hershey with a $50 million gift from the Hershey Trust Company.[19]

In 1970s, the university became a state-related institution, leading to its membership in the Commonwealth System of Higher Education. In 1975, the lyrics in the Penn State Alma Mater were revised to be gender-neutral in honor of International Women's Year; the revised lyrics were taken from the posthumously published autobiography of the writer of the original lyrics, Fred Lewis Pattee. Professor Patricia Farrell acted as a spokesperson for those who wanted the change.[25]

In 1989, the Pennsylvania College of Technology in Williamsport became affiliated with the university.

Students sit outside Pennsylvania State College, c. 1922
Students on the campus of present-day Penn State University Park, the university's main campus in University Park, Pennsylvania, c. 1922

21st century

In 2000, Dickinson School of Law joined the Pennsylvania College of Technology in affiliating with the university.[26] The university is now the largest in Pennsylvania, and in 2003, it was credited with having the second-largest impact on the state economy of any organization, generating an economic effect of over $17 billion on a budget of $2.5 billion.[27] To offset the lack of funding due to the limited growth in state appropriations to Penn State, the university has concentrated its efforts on philanthropy (2003 marked the end of the Grand Destiny campaign—a seven-year effort that raised over $1.3 billion).[28]

Child sex abuse scandal

In 2011, the university and its football program garnered international media attention and criticism in a sex abuse scandal in which university officials were alleged to have covered up incidents of child sexual abuse by former football team defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky. Athletic director Timothy Curley and Gary Schultz, senior vice president for finance and business, were indicted for perjury. In the wake of the scandal, coach Joe Paterno was fired[29] and school president Graham B. Spanier was forced to resign[30] by the board of trustees. Sandusky, who maintained his innocence,[31] was indicted and subsequently convicted in June 2012 on 45 counts for the abuse.

A subcommittee of the board of trustees engaged former FBI director Louis Freeh to head an independent investigation on the university's handling of the incidents. Freeh released his findings in July 2012, concluding that Paterno, Spanier, Curley, and Schultz "conceal[ed] Sandusky's activities from the board of trustees, the university community and authorities" and "failed to protect against a child sexual predator harming children for over a decade".[32][33]

On July 23, 2012, the National Collegiate Athletic Association levied sanctions against Penn State for its role in the scandal, penalizing the Penn State football program with a $60 million fine, a ban from bowl games and post-season play for four years, reducing its scholarships from 25 to 15 annually for four years, vacating of all Penn State football wins from 1998 to 2011, and placing the program on a five-year probationary period.[34]

Following imposition of the NCAA sanctions, emails surfaced indicating that high-level NCAA officials did not believe they had the jurisdiction to pass down the original sanctions.[35] Subsequent emails, brought forward under subpoena, quoted an NCAA vice president, who wrote, "I characterized our approach to PSU as a bluff when talking to Mark [Emmert, NCAA president]...He basically agreed [because] I think he understands that if we made this an enforcement issue, we may win the immediate battle but lose the war."[36]

On September 8, 2014, following a report by former U.S. Senator and athletics integrity monitor George J. Mitchell citing progress by Penn State in implementing reforms, the NCAA repealed the sanctions.[37][38] On January 16, 2015, all previous Penn State football records were restored.[39]

An investigation led by former U.S. Attorney General Richard Thornburgh, who the Paterno family retained to review the Freeh report,[40] concluded that the report that placed so much blame on Penn State and Paterno was a "rush to injustice" that could not be relied upon.[41] He found that not only did the evidence "fall far short" of showing Paterno attempted to conceal the Sandusky scandal, but rather that "the contrary is true".[40]

In November 2014, Pennsylvania State Senator Jake Corman released further emails that showed "regular and substantive" contact between NCAA officials and Freeh's investigators, suggesting that Freeh's conclusions were orchestrated.[42]

Death of Timothy Piazza

On February 2, 2017, Timothy Piazza, a pledge of the Beta Theta Pi fraternity located off-campus in State College, died while undergoing hazing activities at the fraternity. Eighteen members of Penn State's Beta Theta Pi fraternity were charged in connection with Piazza's death, and the fraternity was closed and banned indefinitely.

Penn State football head athletic trainer played a large role in organizing and facilitating the hazing of pledges in 2016 and 2017.[43]


University Park

A panoramic view of the Ag Hill Complex at the university in 2012
The Nittany Lion Shrine on the university's main campus in 2014

The largest of the university's 24 campuses, Penn State University Park is located in State College and College Township in Centre County, in central Pennsylvania. Its dedicated ZIP Code is 16802. With an undergraduate acceptance rate of 49 percent,[44] it is the most selective campus in the Penn State system.[45] The university ranks among the most selective schools in Pennsylvania, according to various publications.[46][47][48] During the fall 2018 semester, 40,363 undergraduate students and 5,907 graduate students were enrolled at University Park.[49] Of those, 46.5 percent were female[50] and 42.4 percent were non-Pennsylvania residents.[51]

The University Park campus is centrally located at the junction of Interstate 99/U.S. Route 220 and U.S. Route 322, and is due south of Interstate 80. Before the arrival of the Interstates, University Park was a short distance from the Lock HavenAltoona branch line of the Pennsylvania Railroad. The last run of long-distance trains from Buffalo or Harrisburg through Lock Haven was in 1971.[52] Today, the nearest Amtrak passenger rail access is in Tyrone, 25 miles to the southwest. Intercity bus service to University Park is provided by Fullington Trailways, Greyhound Lines, Megabus, and OurBus. The University Park Airport, serving four regional airlines, is near University Park.

Commonwealth campuses

In addition to the University Park campus, 19 campus locations throughout the commonwealth of Pennsylvania offer enrollment for undergraduate students. Over 60 percent of Penn State first-year students begin their education at a location other than University Park.[53] Each of the 19 commonwealth campuses offer a unique set of degree programs based on the student demographics. Any student in good academic standing is guaranteed a spot at University Park to finish his or her degree if required or desired, known as "change of campus" or, more accurately, "the 2+2 program"; where a Penn State student may start at any Penn State campus, including University Park, for two years and finish at any Penn State the final two years.[54]

Special mission campuses and World Campus

Special mission campuses

Penn State Dickinson Law in Carlisle in 2013
The Main Building at Penn State Great Valley School of Graduate Professional Studies in East Whiteland Township in 2018

World Campus

In 1998, the university launched Penn State World Campus, or Penn State Online, which offers more than 60 online education programs, degrees, and certificates. Distance education has a long history at Penn State, one of the first universities in the country to offer a correspondence course for remote farmers in 1892. Examples of online programs include an MBA, a master of professional studies in homeland security, a Bachelor of Science in nursing, and post-baccalaureate certificates in geographic information systems and applied behavior analysis.[59]

Organization and administration

Penn State is a state-related university and a member of Pennsylvania's Commonwealth System of Higher Education. While it receives funding from the Commonwealth and is connected to the state through its board of trustees, however, it is otherwise independent and not subject to any direct control by the state. For the 2006–2007 fiscal year, the university received 9.7 percent of its budget from state appropriations, the lowest of the four state-related institutions in Pennsylvania.[60]


Schreyer Honors College in 2014
The Carnegie Building in 2008
Huck Institute of the Life Sciences: Gateway to the Sciences in 2017

Penn State has eighteen colleges, including three at special-mission campuses. The University Park campus is organized into fourteen distinct colleges, plus the graduate school and the division of undergraduate studies:[61]

The university's board of trustees voted in January 2007 to create a school of international affairs, with the first classes admitted in the fall 2008 semester.[62] The school is part of Penn State Law.[63]

Formerly the school of nursing, on September 25, 2013, the board of trustees granted the nursing program college status.[64]

Board of trustees

The 32-member board of trustees governs the university. Its members include the university's president, the Governor of the Commonwealth, and the state Secretaries of Agriculture, Conservation and Natural Resources, and Education. The other members include six trustees appointed by the Governor, nine elected by alumni, and six elected by Pennsylvania agricultural societies. Six additional trustees are elected by a board representing business and industry enterprises.[65] Undergraduate students do not elect any trustees; the court case Benner v. Oswald ruled that the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment did not require the undergraduate students be allowed to participate in the selection of trustees.

As of 2013, the chair of the board of trustees is Keith E. Masser, a graduate of Penn State and the chairman and chief executive officer of Sterman Masser, Inc.[66]

The board's main responsibilities are to select the president of Penn State, determine the goals and strategic direction of the university, and approve the annual budget.[67] Regular meetings of the board are held bi-monthly and take place primarily on the University Park campus, although on occasion meetings are held at other locations within the Commonwealth.[68]


Old Main, the main administrative building of Penn State, located on the university's main campus in 2014

The university president is selected by the board and is given the authority for actual control of the university, including day-to-day management. In practice, part of this responsibility is delegated by the president to other administrative departments, the faculty, and the student body.[67] Neeli Bendapudi became the university's 19th and current president on May 9, 2022, upon the departure of Eric J. Barron.[4] The executive vice president and provost is the chief academic officer of the university. The current provost, Nicholas P. Jones, assumed office on July 1, 2013.[69]

Student government

HUB-Robeson Center, Penn State's student union center on the main campus, in 2017

Penn State has a long history of student governance. Elected student leaders remain directly involved in the decision-making of the university administration, as provided for in the board of trustees' standing orders.[70] There are four student governments recognized by the university administration: the University Park Undergraduate Association (UPUA), the Graduate and Professional Student Association (GPSA), the Council of Commonwealth Student Governments (CCSG), and the World Campus Student Government Association (WCSGA).[71]

The University Park Undergraduate Association (UPUA) is the representative student government of the undergraduate students at Penn State's University Park campus, which was established in 2006 after the former student government, Undergraduate Student Government (USG), lost its recognition by way of a student referendum.[72] Graduate and professional students at the university are represented by the Graduate and Professional Student Association (GPSA), the oldest continuously existing student governance organization at Penn State.[73]

The 19 commonwealth campuses of the university are governed by the Council of Commonwealth Student Governments (CCSG), formerly known as the Council of Branch Campus Student Governments (CBCSG).[74]

In 2019, the World Campus Student Government Association (WCSGA) was formed to advocate for the interests and concerns of the more than 20,000 Penn State World Campus students.[75]




Undergraduate admissions statistics
2021 entering

Admit rate57.6
Yield rate19.0
Test scores middle 50%[i]
SAT Total1200-1400
(among 37% of FTFs)
ACT Composite26-32
(among 8% of FTFs)
  1. ^ Among students who chose to submit

For the Class of 2025 (enrolled fall 2021), Penn State received 78,578 applications and accepted 45,269 for an acceptance rate of 57.6%. Of those accepted, 8,614 enrolled, a yield rate (the percentage of accepted students who choose to attend the university) of 19.0%. Penn State's freshman retention rate is 93.1%, with 85% going on to graduate within six years.[76]

The university started test-optional admissions with the Fall 2021 incoming class in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and extended this through Fall 2023. Of the 37% of the incoming freshman class who submitted SAT scores, the middle 50 percent had composite scores between 1200 and 1400. Of the 8% of enrolled freshmen in 2021 who submitted ACT scores, the middle 50 percent composite score was between 26 and 32.[76]

Pennsylvania State University Park is a college-sponsor of the National Merit Scholarship Program and sponsored five Merit Scholarship awards in 2020. In the 2020–2021 academic year, 16 incoming freshman students were National Merit Scholars.[77]

Fall First-Time Freshman Statistics [76] [78] [79]
2021 2020 2019 2018 2017
Applicants 78,578 73,861 71,903 52,742 56,114
Admits 45,269 40,031 35,302 29,793 28,233
Admit rate 57.6 54.2 49.1 56.5 50.3
Enrolled 8,614 8,465 8,331 8,075 7,863
Yield rate 19.0 21.1 23.6 27.1 27.9
ACT composite*
(out of 36)
SAT composite*
(out of 1600)
* middle 50% range
percentage of first-time freshmen who chose to submit

Academic divisions

Penn State is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. The Smeal College of Business, The Sam and Irene Black School of Business, Penn State Harrisburg, and Penn State Great Valley are accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB).[80]

The university offers an accelerated Premedical-Medical Program in cooperation with Sidney Kimmel Medical College.[81] Students in the program spend two or three years at the university before attending medical school at Jefferson.


The Academic Ranking of World Universities ranked Penn State between 101 and 150th among universities globally and between 42nd and 56th nationally for 2020. U.S. News & World Report ranked the university tied for 63rd among national universities and tied for 23rd among public schools in the United States for 2021.[92]

In 2022, the university was ranked 96th in the QS World University Rankings.[93] The 2021 "World University Rankings" by Times Higher Education ranked the university as the 114th best university in the world.[94] The 2021 Global University Ranking by CWTS Leiden Ranking ranked the university as 52nd-best university in the world and 18th in the U.S.[95]


The Forum Building, a classroom building with four classrooms, each capable of containing over 300 students, in 2005
Osmond Laboratory in 2017
Millennium Science Complex in 2017
Pattee Library in 2005

Penn State is classified among "R1: Doctoral Universities – Very high research activity".[96] Over 10,000 students are enrolled in the university's graduate school (including the law and medical schools), and over 70,000 degrees have been awarded since the school was founded in 1922.[97]

According to the National Science Foundation, Penn State spent $971 million on research and development in 2021, ranking it 26th in the nation.[98][99]

The Applied Research Lab (ARL), located near the University Park campus, has been a research partner with the United States Department of Defense since 1945 and conducts research primarily in support of the United States Navy. It is the largest component of Penn State's research efforts statewide, with over 1,000 researchers and other staff members.[100][101]

The Materials Research Institute (MRI) was created to coordinate the highly diverse and growing materials activities across Penn State's University Park campus. With more than 200 faculty in 15 departments,four colleges, and two [[United States Department of Ddefense|Department of Defense][ research laboratories,

MRI was designed to break down the academic walls that traditionally divide disciplines and enable faculty to collaborate across departmental and even college boundaries. MRI has become a model for this interdisciplinary approach to research, both within and outside the university. Dr. Richard E. Tressler was an international leader in the development of high-temperature materials. He pioneered high-temperature fiber testing and use, advanced instrumentation and test methodologies for thermostructural materials, and design and performance verification of ceramics and composites in high-temperature aerospace, industrial, and energy applications. He was founding director of the Center for Advanced Materials (CAM), which supported many faculty and students from the college of earth and mineral science, the Eberly College of Science, the college of engineering, the materials research laboratory and the applied research laboratories at Penn State on high-temperature materials. His vision for interdisciplinary research played a key role in creating the Materials Research Institute, and the establishment of Penn State as an acknowledged leader among major universities in materials education and research.[102][103][104]

The university was one of the founding members of the Worldwide Universities Network (WUN), a partnership that includes 17 research-led universities in the United States, Asia, and Europe. The network provides funding, facilitates collaboration between universities, and coordinates exchanges of faculty members and graduate students among institutions. Former Penn State president Graham Spanier is a former vice-chair of the WUN.[105][106]

Pennsylvania State University Libraries were ranked 14th among research libraries in North America in the 2003–2004 survey released by The Chronicle of Higher Education.[107] The university's library system began with a 1,500-book two-room library in Old Main,[108] but moved to its own space – Carnegie Library (named after college trustee Andrew Carnegie) – ten years later.[109] In 2009, its holdings had grown to 5.2 million volumes, in addition to 500,000 maps, five million microforms, and 180,000 films and videos.[110] The university is a member of the Center for Research Libraries.

The university's College of Information Sciences and Technology is the home of CiteSeerX, an open-access repository and search engine for scholarly publications. The university is also the host to the Radiation Science & Engineering Center, which houses the oldest operating university research reactor. Additionally, University Park houses the Graduate Program in Acoustics,[111] the only freestanding acoustics program in the United States. The university also houses the Center for Medieval Studies, a program that was founded to research and study the European Middle Ages,[112] and the Center for the Study of Higher Education (CSHE), one of the first centers established to research postsecondary education. It is a member of the CDIO Initiative, an international network of universities working to develop unique teaching methods in engineering. The university is also a member of the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research, an organization of hundreds of leading universities dedicated to researching atmosphere and climatology.

Student life

Student demographics

Student body composition as of May 2, 2022
Race and ethnicity[113] Total
White 65% 65
Foreign national 8% 8
Hispanic 8% 8
Asian 7% 7
Black 6% 6
Other[a] 6% 6
Economic diversity
Low-income[b] 23% 23
Affluent[c] 77% 77

As of fall 2010, the racial makeup of the Penn State system including all campuses and special-mission colleges, was 75.4 percent white, 5.5 percent black, 4.3 percent Asian, 4.4 percent Hispanic, 0.2 percent Native American, 0.1 percent Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander, 1.7 percent two or more races, 5.8 percent international students and 3.1 percent of an unknown race. Over the period 2000–2010, minority enrollment as a percentage of total enrollments has risen 5.3 percentage points,[114] while minorities as a percentage of total teaching positions rose 2.0 percentage points from 1997 to 2002.[115]

Penn State has been the subject of controversy for several issues of discrimination. Following some violent attacks on African-Americans in downtown State College in 1988 and complaints that Penn State was not adequately recruiting African-American faculty and students to representative population levels, student activists occupied Old Main. They demanded that Penn State do more to recruit minority students and address intolerance toward minority students on campus and the local community. After President Bryce Jordan canceled a promised meeting with students and organizations in the Paul Robeson Cultural Center on April 8, 1988, 250 students and activists nonviolently occupied Penn State's Telecommunications building on campus. The following morning, 50 state troopers and 45 local and campus police, equipped with helmets, batons, and rubber gloves, entered the building as the crowd outside sang "We Shall Overcome", arresting 89 individuals for trespassing.[116] All charges were later dismissed.

In 1990, a vice provost for educational equity was appointed to lead a five-year strategic plan to "create an environment characterized by equal access and respected participation for all groups and individuals irrespective of cultural differences."[117][118] Since then, discrimination issues include the handling of death threats in 1992 and 2001,[119][120][121][122] controversy around LGBT issues,[123] and the investigation of a 2006 sexual discrimination lawsuit filed by former Lady Lions basketball player Jennifer Harris, alleging that head coach Rene Portland dismissed her from the team in part due to her perceived sexual orientation.[124][125]


Irvin Residence Hall in West Halls in 2007
Brill Hall in 2017

There are seven housing complexes on campus for students attending the University Park campus: East Halls, North Halls, Pollock Halls, South Halls, West Halls, Eastview Terrace, and Nittany Apartments. Each complex consists of a few separate buildings that are dormitories and a commons building, which has: lounges, the help desk for the complex, mailboxes for each dormitory room, a convenience store, a food court, an all-you-care-to-eat buffet. Different floors within a building may be designated as a Living Learning Community (LLC). LLCs are offered to members of certain student groups (such as sororities), students studying particular majors, students who wish to engage in a particular lifestyle (such as the alcohol-free LIFE House), or other groups who wish to pursue similar goals.

Student organizations

As of September 2014, 864 student organizations were recognized at the University Park campus.[126] In addition, the university has one of the largest Greek systems in the country, with approximately 12 percent of the University Park population affiliated. Additional organizations on campus include Thespians, Blue Band, Chabad, Glee Club, Aish HaTorah,[127] Student Programming Association (SPA), Lion's Pantry, Boulevard, Apollo, 3D Printer Club, Digi Digits, and the Anime Organization, which hosts an annual Central Pennsylvania-based anime convention, Setsucon.[128]


The Penn State IFC/Panhellenic Dance Marathon in 2007

Annually in February, thousands of students participate in the Penn State IFC/Panhellenic Dance Marathon (THON), the largest student-run philanthropy in the world.[129] Every year, participants stand for 46 hours nonstop and perform a line dance at least once every hour to stay alert alongside other events hosted throughout the weekend such as concerts, games, athlete hour, family hour, and a tribute to all of the children with cancer. In 2007, THON was moved to the Bryce Jordan Center and shortened from 48 to 46 hours, due to potential conflicts with basketball games.[130] THON raises millions of dollars annually for childhood cancer care and research for its sole beneficiary, Four Diamonds. In 2023, THON raised a program record of $15 million.[131]

The Lion's Pantry

The Lion's Pantry is an undergraduate student-run on-campus food pantry and registered student organization. The Lion's Pantry serves undergraduate, graduate, and professional students. With increasing awareness of hunger on college campuses, the Lion's Pantry is one of the nation's most successful startup food pantries. They partner with groups ranging from Boulevard, UPUA, Greek Life, and more to receive over 8,000 food donations a year. The club was also awarded the Class Gift of 2017 in the form of an endowment.[132]

Public safety

Twenty-two of Penn State's campuses are served by Penn State University Police and Public Safety. In addition to being a full-service police department, the department also has specialized units such as K9, criminal investigation, bike patrol, a bomb squad, and drones. The police department was founded in 1926 as Campus Patrol.

Penn State University Park is also served by the Penn State University Ambulance Service, known as Centre County Company 20. Penn State EMS is a full-service, licensed ambulance service, staffed by student EMTs. The ambulance is staffed around the clock, with the exception of the school's annual winter break, when it goes out of service. The ambulance is affiliated with the University Health Service.

Student media

Student media groups on campus include: The Daily Collegian, Penn State's student-run newspaper; Onward State, a student-run blog; The Underground, a multi-cultural student media site; The LION 90.7 FM (WKPS-FM), a student-run radio station; CommRadio, a student-run, internet-based radio program; La Vie, the university's annual student yearbook; Kalliope, a student-produced literary journal; Valley, a student-run style and life magazine; and, Phroth, a student-run humor magazine; and Penn State Live, the official news source of the university published by its public relations team.

The Daily Collegian, founded in 1904, provides news, sports, and arts coverage and produces long-form features. It publishes in print on Mondays and Thursdays while classes are in session. Since the summer of 1996, the traditional paper publication has been supplemented by an online edition. Online content is published every day. Penn State's commonwealth campuses receive a weekly copy of the paper titled The Weekly Collegian.

Onward State is a student-run blog geared towards the university's community members. The blog, which was founded in 2008, provides news, event coverage, and opinion pieces. U.S. News & World Report named the blog the "Best Alternative Media Outlet" in February 2009.

The Underground is a multicultural student-run media site devoted to telling the untold stories within the Penn State community. The publication seeks to foster the multicultural student voice through creating an open forum of discussion and promoting diversity and community involvement. The media site was founded in 2015.

The LION 90.7 FM (WKPS-FM) was founded in 1995 as a replacement for Penn State's original student radio station WDFM. The LION broadcasts from the ground floor of the HUB-Robeson Center, serving the Penn State and State College communities with alternative music and talk programming, including live coverage of home Penn State football games.

CommRadio is operated by the Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications. It was founded in the spring of 2003 as an internet-based audio laboratory and co-curricular training environment for aspiring student broadcasters. It airs both sports coverage and news. Other programming includes student talk shows, political coverage, AP syndicated news, and soft rock music. In recent years, CommRadio broadcasters have won numerous state awards for their on-air work.

La Vie (the Life), the university's annual student yearbook, has been published continuously since 1890.[133] La Vie 1987, edited by David Beagin, won a College Gold Crown for Yearbooks award from the Columbia Scholastic Press Association.[134]

Kalliope is an undergraduate literary journal produced by students and sponsored by the university's English Department. It is published in the spring. Kalliope includes works of fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and visual art.[135] In addition, Klio, an online publication, provides students with literary pieces in the fall semester.

Valley is Penn State's student-run life and style magazine.[136] It was founded in 2007.

The student-run humor magazine, founded in 1909 as Froth, is Phroth, which publishes two to four issues each year. Notable Penn State alumni who worked at the magazine include Julius J. Epstein, who wrote the screenplay for Casablanca in 1942 and won three Academy Awards.[137]

Penn State's newspaper readership program provides free copies of USA Today, The New York Times, and local and regional newspapers depending on the campus location. This program, initiated by then-President Graham Spanier in 1997,[138] has since been instituted on several other universities across the country.[139]


The Penn State Nittany Lions' mascot, the Nittany Lion, at Beaver Stadium, in 2007
Wall near Beaver Stadium in 2008
The "S-Zone," representing "State," in the student section of Beaver Stadium in 2007
Penn State wrestling takes on Ohio State at the Bryce Jordan Center in 2020

Penn State's mascot is the Nittany Lion, a representation of a type of mountain lion that once roamed what is now University Park. The school's official colors, now blue and white, were originally black and dark pink. Originally introduced back when athletics were introduced at Penn State, this was changed in 1890 after the pink faded to white and to avoid ridicule from opposing teams.[140] Pink and black still will make periodic appearances at athletic events in the modern era as a special student "S" section during certain games. Penn State participates in NCAA's Division I FBS for football and in the Big Ten Conference for most sports.[141]

Two sports participate in different conferences: men's volleyball in the Eastern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association (EIVA)[142] and women's hockey in College Hockey America (CHA).[143] The fencing teams operate as independents.

Penn State athletic teams have claimed a total of 82 national collegiate team championships since the university's founding, including 54 NCAA, two consensus Division I football titles, six AIAW, three USWLA, one WIBC, four national titles in boxing, 11 in men's soccer, and one in wrestling in years prior to NCAA sponsorship.[144] The university ranks fifth all-time in NCAA championships in NCAA Division I, and first among Big Ten schools.[145]

Since joining the Big Ten in 1991, Penn State teams have won 124 conference regular season and tournament titles, through June, 2023.[146]

Penn State has one of the most successful overall athletic programs in the country, evidenced by its rankings in the NACDA Director's Cup, a list compiled by the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics that charts institutions' overall success in college sports. From the Cup's inception in the 1993–1994 season, the Nittany Lions have finished in the top 25 every year.[147]




Penn State is best known for its football team, which enjoys a large following. With an official capacity of 106,572, Penn State's Beaver Stadium has the second-largest seating capacity after Michigan Stadium and the fourth-largest globally.[148]

From 1966 to 2011, the Penn State football team was led by coach Joe Paterno, who was in a close competition with Bobby Bowden, head coach for Florida State, for the most wins ever in Division I-A, which is now the FBS. Paterno still led in total wins at the time of Bowden's retirement following the 2010 Gator Bowl. In 2007, Patero was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.[149]

Paterno amassed 409 victories over his career, the most in NCAA Division I history.[150] Paterno died on January 22, 2012, at the age of 85. Paterno was posthumously honored by Penn State during the September 17, 2016 football game that marked the 50th anniversary of his first game as head coach.[151][152][153][154]

The university opened a new Penn State All-Sports Museum in February 2002, which is a two-level 10,000-square-foot (1,000 m2) museum is located inside Beaver Stadium.[155]

Beaver Stadium, home stadium for Penn State Nittany Lions football and the second-largest college football stadium in the nation after Michigan Stadium

Ice hockey






Notable people

Notable alumni

Alumni association

The former President's house, now adjoined to the Hintz Alumni Center, in 2007

Established in 1870, nine years after the university's first commencement exercises, the Penn State Alumni Association has the stated mission "to connect alumni to the University and each other, provide valuable benefits to members and support the University's mission of teaching, research, and service."[156] The Alumni Association supports a number of educational and extracurricular missions of Penn State through financial support and is the network that connects alumni through over 280 "alumni groups", many of which are designated based on geographical, academic, or professional affiliation.[157]

As of July 1, 2010, the alumni association counted 496,969 members within the United States, with an additional 16,180 in countries around the globe.[158][159]

About half the United States alumni reside in Pennsylvania, primarily in the urban areas of Philadelphia and its surrounding counties, the Greater Pittsburgh area, and the Centre County region surrounding State College. About 34 percent of United States alumni and 21 percent of international alumni are members of the alumni association.[160][161]

Membership totaled 176,426 as of 2016, making the Penn State Alumni Association the largest dues-paying alumni association in the world, a distinction it has held since 1995.[162]

See also


  1. ^ Other consists of Multiracial Americans & those who prefer to not say.
  2. ^ The percentage of students who received an income-based federal Pell grant intended for low-income students.
  3. ^ The percentage of students who are a part of the American middle class at the bare minimum.


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Further reading

  • Dunaway, Wayland Fuller. History of The Pennsylvanaia State College (1946) online

External links

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