Talk, book signing April 24 to highlight history of Penn State's first president

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Penn State alumnus Roger Williams will offer a talk based on his new book, “Evan Pugh’s Penn State: America’s Model Agricultural College,” at 3:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 24, in Foster Auditorium, located in 103 Paterno Library at University Park. The talk also will be livestreamed for remote viewing at Mediasite Live. A book sale and signing will be held following the talk.

“It’s an important story to tell and a topic I have long wanted to research and write about,” Williams said. “Evan Pugh was a Pennsylvania native and a highly accomplished agricultural researcher when he arrived in Centre County to lead the Farmers’ High School as its founding president. In just four years, he achieved his vision, what he called a “great experiment” — establishing the first and greatest agricultural college in America. And he did it during the Civil War, the greatest crisis in America’s history.”

“There’s no question that the Farmers’ High School became a model institution of its kind in America, and very quickly so,” he added. Pugh’s vision helped establish the foundation for today’s Penn State, now a top 100 global university.

In his review of “Evan Pugh’s Penn State,” Ariel Ron, the Glenn M. Linden Assistant Professor of the U.S. Civil War Era at Southern Methodist University, writes, “In this wonderfully readable and engaging biography, Roger L. Williams not only recovers the achievements of an important scientist and educational pioneer, but also gives us a much-needed deep history of the movement for land-grant universities. Scholars interested in the roots of public higher education, university-based scientific research, and agricultural modernization in the United States will welcome this outstanding contribution.”

Williams, who retired in 2015 after 12 years as associate vice president and executive director of the Penn State Alumni Association, holds a doctoral degree in higher education, his third degree from the University. He wrote his first book about a pivotal leader in the early days of Penn State, “The Origins of Federal Support for Higher Education: George W. Atherton and the Land-Grant College Movement,” in 1991, published by Penn State University Press, also the publisher of “Evan Pugh’s Penn State.” Williams also co-edited “Future of the American Public Research University,” part of the Global Perspectives in Higher Education series published by Sense Publishers, in 2007.

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Last Updated April 24, 2018