Historical Timeline

Historical Timeline

Experience Penn State Behrend's history by jumping to the following points on this timeline.


Ernst Behrend

Penn State chartered by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. First campus located in Centre County.

March 29, 1869
Ernst R. Behrend is born to Moritz and Rebecca Wolf Behrend of Coeslin, Germany.

Dec. 26, 1879
Mary Brownell is born to Seth and Harriet Brownell of Providence, Rhode Island.

Feb. 22, 1896
Ernst R. Behrend arrives in America from Coeslin, Germany, with his brother, Otto F. Behrend. Ernst and Otto Behrend plan to build a paper mill in Erie, Pennsylvania.

Ground broken for Hammermill Paper Company in Erie.

Ernst R. Behrend marries Mary Brownell.

Penn State offers graduate education courses at Central High School (now Central Tech).

Dec. 19, 1929
Ernst and Mary Behrend's son Warren is killed in an auto accident. He had swerved to avoid a collision with a school bus that had cut in front of him. None of the children were injured.

Sept. 22, 1940
Ernst R. Behrend dies.

Area business leaders seek to establish a Penn State center in Erie.Mary Behrend at dedication

June 28, 1948
Mary Behrend officially donates Glenhill Estate, including more than 400 acres, to Penn State, creating the Behrend Center of Pennsylvania State College.

July 13, 1948
T. Reed Ferguson appointed head of the Behrend Center.

Summer 1948
First floor of the Behrend barn made into three classrooms and three laboratories. Carriage House becomes chemistry lab; family drawing room becomes the library. Second floor of the farmhouse becomes dormitory housing for 20 women.

Fall 1948
146 students enroll; 12 full-time and part-time faculty supported by six clerical and technical staff.

First edition of the Nittany Cub, school newspaper, published.

DedicationOct. 30, 1948
Glenhill Farm dedicated as a Penn State facility. The anniversary of this date is commemorated as Behrend Founder's Day, or Behrend's Birthday.



Erie Hall, the first building in the history of Penn State to be constructed with private funds, completed.

First two-year associate degree programs established at the center, electrical engineering technology and drafting and design technology. These were the first two Penn State degrees that could be completed at a location other than University Park, at that time known as the State College campus.

Irvin H. Kochel named administrative head of the Behrend Center.

Penn State attains University status. Second year of course offerings added at the Behrend Center.

May 20, 1957
Otto F. Behrend dies. He wills funds to the Behrend Center that will be used for a building named in his honor. (Otto also willed his estate and property near 38th Street and Asbury Road to the Millcreek Township School District, thereby establishing Asbury Woods.)

Penn State establishes the Commonwealth campus system and the Behrend Center became the Behrend campus. Enrollment stands at 300.Girls in dorm



Otto F. Behrend Science Building completed, built with funds willed by Ernst's brother, Otto.

J. Elmer Reed Union Building completed, named after the chairman of the initial Behrend Center Planning Committee; constructed with private funds.

Behrend Center establishes Perry Hall, its first residence unit, built with University and private funds.

Niagara and Lawrence residence halls completed; Edwin W. Nick Laboratory-Classroom Building dedicated; Daniel Dobbins Dining Hall built. There are 600 resident students and 600 commuting students enrolled.



Behrend Center becomes the first location outside University Park with the authority to develop baccalaureate program and confer degrees locally.

Enrollment stands at 1,500. Three baccalaureate majors are offered.

Jan. 20, 1973
Board of Trustees grants four-year and graduate degree status to Behrend. The Behrend campus becomes the Behrend College of the Pennsylvania State University.

Mary Brownell Behrend dies.



Fourteen baccalaureate degrees are offered by the college. Dr. John M. Lilley appointed dean.

Enrollment reaches 1,850.

Ground broken for Hammermill and Zurn Buildings.

Reed Union Building 1987
Renamed The Pennsylvania State University at Erie, The Behrend College, by the Board of Trustees.

Glass-enclosed atrium added to the Reed Union Building.

The undergraduate program in plastics engineering technology launched.

Penn State Behrend Alumni Society established.

Penn State Behrend alumnus Tom Lawless hits a three-run homer for the St. Louis Cardinals in the World Series.

WP$E radio goes on the air.



Music at Noon: The Logan Series begins. Enrollment increases to 2,787.

Kay Logan donates Mack Estate to Penn State Behrend. College lands now increase to more than 700 acres.

First Athletic Hall of Fame class inducted.

Penn State Educational Partnership (PEPP) created.

College wins Distinguished Lecture Program Award for having best university speakers' program in the nation.

Annual faculty research grants top $1 million for first time.

100,000-square-foot Library and Academic Building opens.Lilley Library

55,000-square-foot Engineering Complex completed, including Fasenmyer, Prischak, Witkowski, and Benson Buildings, Roche Hall, and Loranger Plaza.

Enrollment reaches 3,208.

Dr. Steven DeHart leads Penn State Behrend's first Study Abroad program.

Logan House refurbished and dedicated.

Almy Hall, residence hall, opens.

School of Business receives $20 million endowment gift, the third largest gift in Penn State's history.

Ohio Hall, residence hall, opens.

Knowledge Park at Penn State Erie dedicated.



Junker Center2000
$10.2 million Athletics and Recreation Center dedicated. (The facility will be renamed the Junker Center in 2001.)

Mehalso Observatory and telescope erected.

Enrollment stands at 3,700.

Dr. John M. Lilley leaves Penn State Behrend. Dr. John D. "Jack" Burke named interim provost and dean effective July 1.

New baseball and softball complex opens.

Three new buildings open in Knowledge Park: a second office building, the Center for Advanced Manufacturing and Technology, and the Penn State Behrend Child Care Center (relocated from Station Road).

The Larry and Kathryn Smith Chapel and Floyd and Juanita Smith Carillon opens, located across from the Library.

Construction begins on the Eastside Access Highway, which will run through campus and will connect the college and Knowledge Park to the Bayfront Parkway and downtown Erie. 

Two existing facilities named in honor of previous Penn State Behrend administrative heads: The Irvin Kochel Center and the John M. Lilley Library.

A Bachelor of Science degree in science and a Master of Project Management are added to the curriculum. The college now offers thirty majors, nineteen minors, and three graduate-degree programs.

Penn State Behrend's 725-acre campus earns official recognition as an aboretum from the American Association of Botanical Gardens and Arboreta.

Dr. Jack Burke named campus executive officer and dean, succeeding Dr. John M. Lilley as the college's top official.

The Sam and Irene Black School of Business named in honor of the Blacks' $20 million estate gift for school endowments, originally announced as an anonymous gift in 1998. The Black School also achieves accreditation from AACSB International.

A Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in creative writing is added to the curriculum. Penn State Behrend now offers thirty-one majors, nineteen minors, and three graduate-degree programs.

The college breaks ground on the Research and Economic Development Center (REDC). Once completed, the REDC will effectively double the amount of classroom and office space at Penn State Behrend.

Senat Hall, the college's latest residence facility, opens to its first residents. 

In December, Pascale Malouin traveled from her home in Edmonton, Alberta, to Erie to take part in commencement and become the very first graduate of Penn State's online Master of Project Management (M.P.M.) program. This marked the first time she had stepped foot on the campus.

In January, an asteroid is named for Dr. Roger Knacke, director of the School of Science, in recognition of his astronomical work.

The Penn State Behrend Lion statue pounces into temporary quarters on the college grounds in February.

Penn State Behrend grants first group of students SAP Certification, which gives students an edge in the job market after graduation.

At spring commencement, Penn State Behrend graduates its largest class in the college's history.

In June, the long-awaited Bayfront Connector opens, providing a direct route between Penn State Behrend and downtown Erie.

2006Burke Center
The college's innovative Music at Noon: The Logan Series wins the Chamber Music America/American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers’ (CMA/ASCAP) Award for Adventurous Programming.

In May, Penn State Behrend moves its spring commencement to Tullio Arena to allow larger groups to attend.

The Research and Economic Development Center (REDC) opens for student classes, research, and studies. The facility houses the Black School of Business and the School of Engineering.

Student enrollment at Penn State Behrend tops 4,000 for the first time. This is the largest incoming class in the history of the college.

An associate degree in nursing is announced. Classes will begin in fall 2007.

The Penn State Behrend Lions athletic teams win their fifth AMCC Presidents' Cup in six years. The award recognizes the best overall athletic program in the conference.

Enrollment at the college reaches a record-high 4,171 students, reflecting the largest enrollment increase of any University location, including University Park.

The Samuel P. "Pat" Black III Conference Center, designed both for student and business use, opens in the REDC.

A newly approved minor, operations and supply chain management, exemplifies growing collaboration between the Black School of Business and the School of Engineering.

The region’s first confocal microscope is installed in the School of Science.


Enrollment in the college now stands at 4,633 students, a nearly 5 percent increase over 2007 figures.

The college hosts high-profile visits by presidential and vice presidential candidates and their advocates, including Democratic presidential candidate and eventual President Barack Obama.

The college kicks off celebration of its 60th anniversary year hosting a meeting of the Penn State Board of Trustees.

Robert D. and Sally Nelson Metzgar of Warren announce at $2 million gift for the creation of a new admissions and alumni center.

Susan Hirt Hagen commits a major gift to the college to create an endowment for the Center for Community Outreach, Research and Evaluation (CORE).

The expanded archives of the college—featuring collections related to the Behrend family, Hammermill Paper Company, and Penn State Behrend—are unveiled.

Ground is broken for the $4.7 million, two-story Robert and Sally Metzgar Admissions and Alumni Center.

Renovation of the Reed Union Building begins with considerable student input driving improvements to the facility.

The growth of Penn State Behrend over 60 years is captured in a group shot of faculty and staff.

A new outreach program, the Young People’s Chorus of Erie (YPC), is launched to bring children of diverse abilities and backgrounds together in song.

The college received the AMCC Presidents’ Cup for the eighth time in the award’s nine-year history.



Metzgar CenterFire destroys Dobbins Dining Hall and Gazebo during the spring semester while the facility was undergoing a $7.5 million renovation. Dining service was temporarily relocated to Erie Hall, and Dobbins was back in business--and bigger and better than ever--by fall semester.

After 29 years at Penn State Behrend, Dr. John D. "Jack" Burke retires from his position as chancellor on June 30. The Jack Burke Research and Economic Development Center was renamed in his honor.

Dr. Donald L. Birx begins his tenure as chancellor effective July 1, becoming the college's fifth leader.

The Robert and Sally Metzgar Admissions and Alumni Center (pictured at right) opens its doors, housing the Admissions, Financial Aid, Registrar, Bursar, and Alumni Relations offices.

The School of Engineering is ranked in top 50 "Best Undergraduate Engineering Programs" in the nation by U.S. News and World Report, and the MBA program in the Black School of Business is ranked among the best in the country by both U.S. News and the Princeton Review.

The college receives the AMCC Presidents’ Cup for the ninth time in the award’s ten-year history.

The college confers a record-breaking 650 degrees at its spring commencement ceremony.

The Medical Plastics Center of Excellence opens to provide research and education to an industry with a nearly 10 percent annual growth rate.

Dr. Lili Zhang, head of the Research Center for Multi-Cultural Education at Beijing Normal University, is Penn State Behrend’s first Fulbright Scholar-in-Residence. She lives and teaches on campus for the 2011-12 academic year.

Lighter Than Air Sculpture“Lighter than Air Paper Factory,” a kinetic sculpture commissioned in the 1970s for International Paper, successor to the Behrend family’s Hammermill Paper Co., is refurbished and hung in the Clark Café (pictured at left).

The Penn State Educational Partnership Program (PEPP), a tutoring and mentoring program for at-risk teens, turns 20. Math Options for Girls, an outreach effort that introduces middle-school girls to careers in the sciences and engineering, celebrates its 15th anniversary.

The college receives the AMCC Presidents’ Cup for the tenth time in the award’s eleven-year history.

A $1.3 million addition to the Reed Union Building opens. Improvements include a new south entrance to Reed; an outdoor seating area named Ben Lane Plaza in honor of the longtime college administrator; and The Galley, an on-campus convenience store that stocks a variety of products including half-gallons of Berkey Creamery ice cream.

Autodesk, a leading global developer of 3D design, engineering and entertainment software, makes a gift valued at $21.7 million​ to the college. It is the first time Autodesk has provided full access to its top products through a grant of software to a college or university.

Penn State Behrend students raise more than $20,000 for THON, the University’s two-day dance marathon. GE Transportation pledges to match that amount to show support for employees whose children are battling cancer.

Victory Media, publisher of GI Jobs magazine, includes Penn State Behrend on its 2013 list of Military Friendly Schools. 

The college confers 671 degrees at its spring commencement ceremony. 

The new headquarters for the Susan Hirt Hagen Center for Community Outreach, Research and Evaluation (CORE) opens at Balmer House. 

Yahn PlanetariumPenn State Behrend and the Greater Erie Industrial Development Corp. (GEIDC) break ground for the $16.5 million Advanced Manufacturing and Innovation Center (AMIC), a collaborative research facility that will add classrooms, engineering labs, and private industry space to Knowledge Park.

Yahn Planetarium at Penn State Behrend, a 55-seat astronomy theater, opens. The facility, housed in the School of Science, expands the original mission of the planetarium, a fixture in Erie since 1959.

The college begins offering a four-year bachelor of science nursing degree, which replaces the two-year associate degree, to better align with projected employment patterns in an increasingly complex health-care system.

Victory Media, publisher of GI Jobs magazine, again recognizes Penn State Behrend as one of the most supportive academic environments for U.S. service members, veterans, and military spouses. 

The college begins construction of a $112,000 “Innovation Commons,” a collaborative lab located in Burke Center. It will offer an instant support network for small businesses and start-ups – a key goal of a $1.5 million Ignite Erie initiative, a partnership of Penn State Behrend, Mercyhurst University, and the Erie County Gaming Revenue Authority (ECGRA). 

High School Academy, a career exploration program that offers summer courses in business, engineering, and digital arts, expands Penn State Behrend’s College for Kids program.

Dr. Donald L. Birx leaves Penn State Behrend. Dr. Ralph Ford, director of the School of Engineering and associate dean for industry and external relations, is appointed interim chancellor of the college, effective July 1.

Enrollment in the college now stands at 4,700 students.

A monument to Mary Brownell Behrend, whose donation of her property made Penn State Behrend possible, was dedicated on Saturday, Oct. 24.

Dr. Ralph Ford named chancellor on January 7, becoming the college's sixth leader.

Penn State Behrend again earned the Tree Campus USA designation from the Arbor Day Foundation. The college is one of only 16 in Pennsylvania to earn the distinction. It is the fourth time the college has been listed as a Tree Campus.

Penn State Behrend 70th anniversary logoThe college kicks off celebration of its 70th anniversary year hosting a meeting of the Penn State Board of Trustees.

More than 250 students moved into Penn State Behrend’s newest residence hall: Trippe Hall, a $28.5-million building with all the latest living-learning amenities.