Building a Campus
Penn State Beaver opened its doors to 97 local students in the fall of 1965 when the University was already 110 years old. Penn State came to Beaver County at the request of the Beaver County Board of Commissioners, which offered the old county hospital buildings and grounds in Monaca as a site for the campus.
The Penn State Board of Trustees accepted the invitation, and conversion and construction work began immediately. In addition to contributing the campus site, the Beaver County Commissioners provided funds for building renovations and construction.
The late Senator James E. Ross and the late Michael Baker, Jr., president of Michael Baker Corporation and former president of the Penn State Board of Trustees, were instrumental in the planning and expansion of Penn State Beaver. Both men worked tirelessly with local and Penn State University Park officials to clear the way for the opening of the campus.
In 1968 the University purchased additional land, and the campus now occupies 105 acres in Center Township, just forty minutes northwest of downtown Pittsburgh. To provide for the steady growth in student population, academic and student life buildings were added, including Harmony Hall residence hall, which accommodates 210 students. Other buildings were the Food Service Building (now the Brodhead Bistro), gym, Student Union Building, General Classroom Building, Michael Baker Science and Engineering Building (named in honor of the late Mr. Baker), and Laboratory Classroom Building. The Adult Literacy Action program, formerly located on campus, now has offices in the neighboring town of Beaver.
The Ross Administration Building was completed and occupied in January 2004, and features faculty and staff offices as well as services for students. The old Administration Building, formerly the county hospital, was razed in spring 2004 to make way for lawns, walkways, and green space where students, faculty, staff, and the public can meet for class, intramurals, picnics, or just to relax.
Beaver's newest building is the Gary B. Keefer Wellness Center, which was dedicated in 2012 and named in honor of the campus' Chancellor Emeritus, who retired in 2014.
Beaver's physical plant has progressed greatly since 1965. An additional building was constructed and connected to the Student Union Building and dedicated in 1994. This addition houses a 350-seat auditorium, offices for staff members and student organizations, classrooms, meeting rooms, the Student Activity Suite, and WBVR, the campus radio station.
In 1998 the former dining hall underwent a $1.75 million renovation and expansion that converted the facility from a traditional-style cafeteria into the Brodhead Bistro, where a wide variety of food and beverage stations are open to the campus community and the public throughout the academic year. The project also included the construction of a connecting link between the Brodhead Bistro and the Student Union Building as well as a Special Events Room designed to accommodate 50 people for meetings, dinners, classes, and other programs.
In 1999 the Beaver County Commissioners provided $125,000 to establish a state-of-the-art Information Sciences and Technology (IST) studio lab, one of the first of its kind within the University's statewide locations for the new IST program. In October 2002 groundbreaking ceremonies were held to celebrate the start of construction of the new Ross Administration Building located between the gymnasium and the Student Union Building and named in honor of the late Senator Ross. Generous gifts of $150,000 from the Beaver County Commissioners and a $50,000 legislative grant were instrumental in ensuring the start of construction.
The $4.8 million Ross Administration Building houses a variety of faculty and staff offices, including the Chancellor's Office, Academic Affairs, Registrar, Finance and Business, Development, the Center for Academic Achievement, Health Center, Campus and Community Relations, and the Brodhead Cultural Center. A variety of conference and meeting rooms are located in the building, along with a faculty/staff lounge and staff assistant services.
The $3.3 million, 4,980 square foot state-of-the-art Gary B. Keefer Wellness Center, opened in 2012, was constructed as an addition to the campus gym and features the latest in exercise, cardiac, and aerobic conditioning equipment as well as a yoga studio.
Programs and Advancement
In May 2003 Penn State Beaver celebrated its first baccalaureate commencement with more than 50 students in the Information Sciences and Technology and Business programs. Since then three more baccalaureate degrees have been added in Administration of Justice, Communications, and Psychology.
The campus provides an RN to BS nursing degree completion program, which is offered by Penn State Shenango, and students also have the option of selecting academic minors in Business, Civic and Community Engagement, Information Sciences and Technology, Psychology, and Security and Risk Analysis.
As the campus programs grew, so did the need for increased scholarships to help students in need of financial support to reach their goals. Penn State Beaver's third and largest fundraising campaign to date, "For the Future: The Campaign for Penn State Students," concluded in June 2014 and exceeded its original goal by raising $3.1 million.
The majority of funds were designated for student scholarships, but gifts also supported study abroad opportunities for students and faculty, research, equipment, cultural programming, and the construction of the Gary B. Keefer Wellness Center.
Ties to the Community
Strong ties continue to exist between Penn State Beaver and the Beaver County community. The campus operates community outreach programs through Continuing Education programs held on campus and at job sites; Adult Literacy Action; Brodhead Cultural Center programming; and year-round projects undertaken by students through service learning and special service projects. Students implement the "Take a Day On, Not a Day Off" program in honor of the annual Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, going into the community to assist non-profit organizations in a variety of ways.
Students also work on service learning projects, in and out of the classroom, that serve to advance the development of area organizations and businesses. Every year the campus' outreach efforts continue to serve thousands of diverse residents of Beaver County and surrounding communities.
The Brodhead Cultural Center features the 700-seat J. P. Giusti Amphitheater, which was named for the campus' first chancellor. The Cultural Center has presented free and low-cost summer programming since 1977, including a wide range of concerts and theater productions performed by national, regional, and local artists.
The Office of Continuing Education provides courses in a variety of areas, including personal care home and nursing home administration, real estate, engineer review courses, and project management. Adult Literacy Action continues to offer reading and other life skills courses for people of all ages within the community.
For more information about Penn State Beaver, contact the Office of Campus and Community Relations, 724-773-3815. For information about academic programs, contact the Admissions Office, 1-877-JOIN-PSU.
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