The Pennsylvania State University
From agricultural college to world-class learning community -- the story of The Pennsylvania State University is one of an expanding mission of teaching, research, and public service. But that mission was not so grandly conceived in 1855, when the Commonwealth chartered the school at the request of the Pennsylvania State Agricultural Society. The goal was to apply scientific principles to farming, a radical departure from the traditional curriculum grounded in mathematics, rhetoric, and classical languages.
Centre County became the site of the new college in response to a gift of 200 acres from agriculturist and ironmaster James Irvin of Bellefonte. President Evan Pugh drew on the scientific education he had received in Europe to plan a broader curriculum combining classical studies with practical applications. Pugh and similar visionaries in other states won federal support for their ideas in 1862, when Congress passed the Morrill Land-Grant Act. The act enabled states to sell federal land, invest the proceeds, and use the income to support colleges "where the leading object shall be, without excluding scientific and...
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