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1850s

1850-1855

Pennsylvania pioneered in the national movement to broaden higher educational opportunities for all classes of society.

Pennsylvania State Agricultural Society, organized 1851, urged state to improve agricultural economy through scientific education.

Legislation requested in 1853 resulted in 1854 charter for Farmers' High School of Pennsylvania (name chosen to differentiate from prevailing liberal arts colleges of the period); charter repealed mainly because of unworkable provisions for board of trustees (numbered sixty, most being annually-elected presidents of county agricultural societies).

1855

Charter now in effect signed by Governor Pollock, February 22; first Board of Trustees president, Judge Frederick Watts of Carlisle.

Site in Centre County selected from nine offered throughout state; 200 acres donated by James Irvin with $10,000 pledge from citizens of Centre and Huntingdon counties.

1856

Construction of Old Main (the "College Building") begun; supervised by William G. Waring, who was appointed superintendent to open the school and plan farm, orchards and nursery.

1857

Legislature appropriated $25,000 for the building and promised another $25,000 if matched by other subscriptions (typical procedure at the time).

Library collection begun with gift of 14 publications.

1859

Farmers' High School opened February 16 with 69 of the 119 students enrolled for the first year present; faculty of four.

"Old Willow" tree planted by Waring.

Dr. Evan Pugh, noted agricultural chemist, became first President in October; died in office April 1864.

First agricultural information bulletin published.

Laboratory work in chemistry begun under Dr. Pugh, who brought apparatus from Europe.