Histories of Penn State
Keeping a community's needs in full view
Move from downtown to Dunmore allows Penn State Worthington Scranton to grow
Editor's note: Most people know the history of Penn State as that of a school chartered in 1855 at the request of the Pennsylvania State Agricultural Society to apply scientific principles to farming. Since that time, Penn State has grown from that one campus at University Park to 24 locations statewide, and each of those other locations has its own special history. Throughout this academic year, Intercom plans to highlight those histories, as told by experts at each of those campus locations.
By Deborah Brandt
The hills surrounding the busy Lackawanna Valley cities provide a scenic backdrop for the Penn State Worthington Scranton campus. Tucked into a sloping landscape on 45 acres in Dunmore, the campus serves more than 1,600 students from throughout the Northeast region -- Lackawanna, Wyoming, Wayne, Pike, Susquehanna and Monroe counties.
Penn State's presence in the Scranton area began modestly in 1923 with mechanical and industrial non-credit evening courses being conducted in the local Chamber of Commerce Building in center city. During World War II, the unit put aside some of its course offerings in favor of the University-wide emphasis on war industry and defense training courses, but returned to its original focus in the early postwar years. Known as the Scranton Technical Institute, this branch school operated at various locations until 1950.
In 1951, a building was leased from the Scranton School District and soon after, in 1953, the facility (renamed The Scranton Center) began offering Penn State associate degree programs in drafting and design technology and in electrical engineering technology. These two associate degree programs provided the Scranton area with its only accredited curricula in the technological field, and thereby made it possible for local residents to be trained for industries that were replacing the once dominant coal mining industry during this economic transitional period.
It was during this time that the Commonwealth Campus System was being implemented and the local advisory board and then-Scranton Center Director Robert E. Dawson began planning for a permanent campus site out of the confines of the city to serve a larger population.
A public fund-raising campaign was instituted to solicit funds from business, industry, labor, former students and friends, and in 1959 a 23-acre tract of land in Dunmore was purchased from the Hudson Coal Co. Early stories of the area recount how the land was used by the company as a place where "coal mining mules were put out to pasture" after years underground. During the next few years, an additional 22 acres of land were purchased.
Groundbreaking ceremonies for the first classroom/administration building took place in the fall of 1966. In 1968, the first classes were held on the newly developed site, which was officially named the Worthington Scranton campus in honor of community leader and father of then-Pennsylvania Gov. William W. Scranton. It was at this time that the campus began offering the first two years of Penn State baccalaureate majors.
At the current site, enrollment has grown to nearly six times the 271 original students. The first facility, the Dawson Building, was followed by three additional buildings, all constructed in the 1970s. The campus continued to add associate degree programs and in 1995 offered its own Penn State baccalaureate degree program in nursing. More baccalaureate degree programs were added and enrollment steadily grew.
By 1997, administrators faced the difficult but encouraging dilemma of limited classroom, meeting and office space. It was at this time that a new classroom/conference building was constructed -- the first new facility in more than 22 years. Appropriately, on Sept. 4, 1998, exactly 30 years from the date of Penn State Worthington Scranton's opening dedication back in 1968, the campus held a dedication ceremony for the James D. Gallagher Conference Center.
Consistent growth and flexibility have allowed Penn State Worthington Scranton to uphold its land-grant mandate to serve the changing needs of its community.
Deborah Brandt Johnson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
* Mary-Beth Krogh-Jespersen, CEO
* 45-acre campus in Dunmore
* Student enrollment of more than 1,600
* 70 full-time and approximately 50 part-time faculty members
* Student/faculty ratio of 20 to 1
* First two years of about 160 Penn State majors
* Complete four bachelor's and seven associate degrees
* Professional development programs
* Six varsity sports
* More than 25 student clubs and organizations