Exhibit focuses on Evan Pugh, Penn State’s first president

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- “No Nobler Effort: Evan Pugh, Penn State’s First President” is on display from Jan. 28 to June 10 in Robb Hall Exhibit Gallery, Hintz Alumni Center on the University Park campus of Penn State. This exhibit takes a closer look at the remarkable life and achievements of Pugh, a leader and advocate for public higher education, whose life was cut short by typhoid fever at the age of 36.

Pugh was an intellectual giant from Chester County, Pa. who completed his doctorate in 1856 and joined the Rothamsted Agricultural Research Station, in England, where his research won him membership to the London Chemical Society in 1859.

In October 1859, at age 31, Pugh left England to serve as the president of the Farmers’ High School (now Penn State) in Centre County, Pa. His goal was to educate new generations of agricultural scientists and conduct practical research in support of American farmers. He was president, teacher, researcher, registrar, bursar, construction superintendent, curriculum organizer, promoter, lobbyist, disciplinarian and procurer of supplies. In 1861, the school produced the nation's first graduates (11 students) with a degree in scientific agriculture.

Pugh changed the college name in 1862 to the Agricultural College of Pennsylvania in order to qualify the institution for federal support under the Morrill Land-Grant Act. His single-handed battle to win designation for Penn State as the sole beneficiary of the Land Grant Act took a physical and emotional toll on Pugh, and in April 29, 1864, wracked by the effects of typhoid fever, Pugh died.

In an AlumnInsider article from February 2009, Alumni Association Executive Director Roger Williams notes “no story from Penn State’s past exemplifies greatness more than the story of its founding president Evan Pugh.”

For more information or questions about the physical access provided, contact Jackie Esposito at 814-863-3791 or jxe2@psu.edu. Hintz Alumni Hall is open 8 a.m.–5 p.m. Monday–Friday. Inquiries regarding hours at 800-548-5466 or local 814-865-6516.

Last Updated February 03, 2014