Penn State University
The school was founded as a degree-granting institution on February 22, 1855, by act P.L. 46, No. 50 of the General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania as the Farmers' High School of Pennsylvania. Centre County, Pennsylvania, became the home of the new school when James Irvin of Bellefonte, Pennsylvania, donated 200 acres (0.8 km2) of land the first of 10,101 acres (41 km2) the school would eventually acquire.
In 1862, the school's name was changed to the Agricultural College of Pennsylvania, and with the passage of the Morrill Land-Grant Acts, Pennsylvania selected the school in 1863 to be the state's sole land-grant college. In the following years, enrollment fell as the school tried to balance purely agricultural studies with a more classic education, falling to 64 undergraduates in 1875, a year after the school's name changed once again to the Pennsylvania State College. George W. Atherton became president of the school in 1882, and broadened the curriculum.
Shortly after he introduced engineering studies, Penn State became one of the ten largest engineering schools in the nation.Atherton also expanded the liberal arts and agriculture programs, for which the school began receiving regular appropriations from the state in 1887. A major road in State College has been named in Atherton's honor. Additionally, Penn State's Atherton Hall, a well-furnished and centrally located residence hall, is named not after George Atherton himself, but after his wife, Frances Washburn Atherton. His grave is in front of Schwab Auditorium near Old Main, marked by an engraved marble block in front of his statue.
Penn State is a multicampus public research university that educates students from Pennsylvania, the nation and the world, and improves the well being and health of individuals and communities through integrated programs of teaching, research, and service. Our instructional mission includes undergraduate, graduate, professional, and continuing education offered through both resident instruction and online delivery.
Our educational programs are enriched by the cutting edge knowledge, diversity, and creativity of our faculty, students, and staff. Our research, scholarship, and creative activity promote human and economic development, global understanding, and progress in professional practice through the expansion of knowledge and its applications in the natural and applied sciences, social sciences, arts, humanities, and the professions.
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 to each other, provide valuable benefits to members and support the University's mission of teaching, research and service." 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.
The largest of the university's 24 campuses, University Park is almost entirely within the boundaries of State College borough, a site chosen because it is near the geographic center of the state. With an undergraduate acceptance rate of 51 percent, it is the most selective campus in the Penn State system, due primarily to the fact that students select University Park as their first-choice campus at a far greater rate than the university's other undergraduate campuses. During the fall 2010 semester, 38,594 undergraduate students and 6,223 graduate students were enrolled at University Park. Of those, 45.3 percent were female and 30.6 percent were not Pennsylvania residents.