The Behrend Center

May 28, 2015

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- A group of students pose for a photograph in their farmhouse dormitory room decorated with college paraphernalia, at the newly established Behrend Center of the Pennsylvania State College, circa 1950.

Erie civic leaders had asked Penn State, which had maintained a technical institute there since the 1920s, to consider establishing a full-fledged undergraduate center in their community. With this goal, Mary P. Behrend donated the Glenhill Farm estate, a 400-acre tract near suburban Wesleyville, to Penn State in honor of her late husband, Ernst R. Behrend, a community leader and philanthropist who with his father and brother founded the Hammermill Paper Company.

The Glenhill property held a dozen buildings which the school modified for use as classrooms, labs, a library, a cafeteria, and faculty apartments. The farmhouse was pressed into service as a women's dormitory, among other uses. Space in the barn was converted into classrooms and laboratories, the carriage house into a chemistry lab, and the family drawing room into a library.

The Behrend Center opened in 1948 in Erie with 146 students and 12 faculty. Today, Penn State Erie, The Behrend College -- renamed as such in 1987 -- enrolls more than 4,350 undergraduate and graduate students; encompasses 50 buildings on 854 wooded acres; and has graduated 33,000 alumni. This July, Penn State invites anyone who attended Behrend between its 1948 founding and 1963 to return to the campus for a two-day Pioneer Reunion.

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated June 16, 2015