Happy 50th anniversary, Penn State Shenango

April 06, 2016

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — In 1963, a group of civic leaders and local citizens formed the Shenango Valley Citizens College Procurement Committee, with the idea of bringing an affordable college to Mercer and parts of five other counties in western Pennsylvania.

The committee solicited proposals from the University of Pittsburgh, Edinboro State College, and Penn State.

Penn State proposed to establish a campus that would enable local students to begin their first two years of college while staying close to home, then transfer to University Park or another location to finish their baccalaureate studies.

The committee found Penn State's offer to be the most suitable, and in addition it had grassroots support — nearly 10,000 area residents signed petitions supporting the choice.

In 1965, the first class of 93 students enrolled at the new Shenango Valley Campus of Penn State.

The college set up quarters in the east wing of Kennedy Christian High School for the first two years of operation. In the summer of 1967, the college moved into the old Sharon High School building on South Water Avenue.

The first building the University purchased from the city of Sharon was Lecture Hall, originally the city’s Central School, a landmark structure that had consolidated many of the community’s one-room schoolhouses. The second building purchased was Sharon Hall.

Local contributions of $200,000 helped to finance the construction of a new science building, completed in 1968, and classes in biology and chemistry were held there. In 1970, the administrative offices, the library, and all other classes moved from the South Water Avenue building into the renovated Sharon and Lecture Halls.

In the late 1980s, "Valley" was dropped from the name to recognize that areas outside of the valley were included in enrollments. Today, the campus offers several baccalaureate and associate degrees, as well as the first two years of nearly all of Penn State’s 160+ majors. 

Penn State Shenango is celebrating its 50th birthday this academic year.

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated May 16, 2016