Video: Feb. 16, 1859, Penn State welcomes its first students

February 16, 2009

On Feb. 16, 1859, classes began at Penn State for the very first time, with 69 students enrolled in a course of studies designed to prepare them for careers in the agricultural sciences. The campus’ location in rural central Pennsylvania offered few amenities, and the physical plant was largely incomplete. As University President Graham B. Spanier notes in a brief video commemorating that historic day 150 years ago, “in spite of the primitive conditions they faced, those early students realized that a Penn State education offered them practically limitless opportunities. Opportunities to gain and create new knowledge, to develop character and personal values, and to serve society in leadership roles.” To watch the video, visit /video/179506/2013/02/09/video-no-title online.

  • Students and horses in front of the unfinished Main Building in 1860.

    IMAGE: Penn State: An Illustrated History

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated November 18, 2010