Penn State's centennial cake

February 17, 2016

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- On Feb. 22, 1855, Pennsylvania Governor James Pollock signed the charter to incorporate a new agricultural college in the Commonwealth. The Farmers' High School was named as such in order to allay the suspicions of farmers who might be distrustful of enrolling their sons in traditional colleges. But the academic work was to be of collegiate grade, and baccalaureate degrees were to be awarded.

A hundred years later, on Feb. 22, 1955, more than 600 educators, government officials and other guests gathered in the HUB ballroom for a dinner and speeches commemorating The Pennsylvania State University's centennial.

Our photo shows an after-dinner scene as Penn State Board of Trustees Chair James Millholland '11 (left), Penn State President Milton Eisenhower (center), and Pennsylvania Governor George Leader prepare to handle the ceremonial duties of cutting a giant cake in the shape of Old Main, provided by the Pennsylvania Bakers Association.

Two men worked four days to bake, assemble and decorate the cake, which was delivered to the University Park campus by truck from Pittsburgh, accompanied by a "patcher" who repaired any damage while the cake was in transit.

State College radio station WMAJ broadcast part of the dinner event live. The after-dinner speeches were also heard via a special telephone hook-up by 53 Penn State alumni clubs nationwide.

The centennial dinner was the first major event held in the new Hetzel Union Building -- now known as the HUB -- dedicated earlier that day but not officially opened for several more weeks. That same day, the University dedicated a new nuclear reactor facility -- today's Breazeale Nuclear Reactor -- and held a groundbreaking ceremony for a new, all-faith chapel -- the Helen Eakin Eisenhower Chapel.

On Feb. 22, 2016, Penn State will observe the 161st anniversary of its founding.


(Media Contacts)

Last Updated March 14, 2016