Haunted Schools: Penn State University
The origins of Penn State University go back to 1855, when the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania chartered the college at the behest of the state’s Agricultural Society. Agriculturist James Irvin gave a gift of 200 acres to the Commonwealth so that a school could be built. Penn State has turned out some great graduates in its time and also has built a reputation for being one of America’s haunted schools.
During the first few decades, there was much debate over the concept of land-grand education. The curriculum went back and forth between the classical and the purely agricultural. Due to this controversy, the early years of the college didn’t see many graduates.
It wasn’t until 1882, when a proponent of the land-grand education concept, George W. Atherton, became president of the college. He introduced the engineering courses, and Penn State soon became one of the country’s largest undergraduate schools for engineering. Thanks to Atherton, the precedent of Congressional support for academics was set.
After Atherton’s death in 1906, Penn State began to focus on undergraduate studies and extensions. Starting in 1936, enrollment surpassed 5,000. Then President Ralph Hetzel helped to establish a series of campuses throughout the state. This would make it easier for students who did not have the money to travel away from home due to the Depression-era economics.
The agricultural beginnings of Penn State continued in the form of extension work. Farmers throughout the state were allowed to learn more about raising livestock and growing crops via correspondence courses. The school had also managed to launch outreach programs in sciences and liberal arts.
Over the past few decades, Penn State has continued to respond to the changing social needs of Pennsylvanians. In 1997, it joined ranks with Dickinson School of Law. In 2000, it established the World Campus, which would allow students to graduate via the internet and new technologies.
Due to its long history, Penn State University has its fair share of ghost legends. Even former President George Atherton is said to still inhabit the school. His spirit is said to hang around Schwab Auditorium, where he watches the plays put on by students. His wife, Frances, is also said to hang around campus.
Another famous haunting at Penn State is believed to be of Betsy Aardsma, a student who was stabbed to death in the library. Her murder is still unsolved. Her spirit is said to wander the library at night. As if these ghostly legends aren’t enough, the evil spirit of an ax murderer is also believed to lurk around Brumbaugh Hall every Halloween.
As one of America’s haunted schools, Penn State will not let you down. Picking this university for your college education will teach you what you need to succeed in life, but it may also teach you a thing or two about the after life as well.