List of Presidents of Pennsylvania State University
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Main article: History of the Pennsylvania State University
- Evan Pugh (1859-1864)- In the Shadow of the civil war Evan Pugh became the first president of the then Farmers' High School. He was a member of the London Chemical Society and a professor at Yale University. He was burdened with meeting the objectives of the Morrill Land-Grant Act of 1862 and the necessary completion of Old Main. On May 2, 1862 Pugh had the name Farmers' High School changed to the Agricultural College of Pennsylvania. After his five years as president, Pugh died in office on April 29, 1864. Pugh Street in State College, Pennsylvania is named in his honor.
- William Henry Allen (1864-1866)- Before becoming the President of the Agricultural College of Pennsylvania Allen was the President of Girard College for 12 years. He also served 10 years at Dickinson College as professor and a year as president. He arrived at Penn State with the burden of a $50,000 debt the infant institution had amassed to that point. In 1866 the Board of Trustees borrowed $80,000 in Mortgage bonds to pay off the debt with excess used to set up a working fund. He also major restructured and implemented Evan Pugh’s original curricula, as well as brought in instruction on military tactics. After his two year stay at Penn State, he was re-elected to the Girard College Presidency, and then to be the president of the American Bible Society. Allen Street in State College, Pennsylvania and Allen Road on the Penn State University Park campus are named in his honor.
- John Fraser (1866-1868); 2 years
- Thomas Henry Burrowes (1868-1871); 3 years
- James Calder (1871-1880); 9 years
- Joseph Shortlidge (1880-1881); 1 year
- James Y. McKee (Interregnum, 1881-1882); 1 year
- George W. Atherton (1882-1906)- Atherton inherited a university that struggled to find its identity between agricultural education and traditional studies. He transformed Penn State from a struggling university with low enrollment to a respected land-grant university, by strengthening the liberal arts program while creating one of the premiere engineering programs in the country. He is often called the "second founder" of the university.
- James A. Beaver (Interregnum, 1906-1908); 2 years
- Edwin Erle Sparks (1908-1920); 12 years
- John Martin Thomas (1921-1925); 4 years
- Ralph Dorn Hetzel (1927-1947); 20 years
- James Milholland (Interregnum, 1947-1950); 3 years
- Milton Stover Eisenhower (1950-1956); 6 years
- Eric A. Walker (1956-1970); 14 years
- John W. Oswald (1970-1983); 13 years
- Bryce Jordan (1983-1990); 7 years
- Joab Thomas (1990-1995); 5 years
- Graham Spanier (1995-2011); 16 years
- Rodney Erickson (2011–2014); 3 years
- Eric J. Barron (2014–present)