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Early class at Mont Alto

Penn State Mont Alto is in its second century of educating excellence. In May 1903, the governor of Pennsylvania established the Pennsylvania State Forest Academy in Mont Alto.  It was one of the first forestry schools in the nation along with the Biltmore Forestry School and Yale Forestry School. Over 100 years later, the Forest Academy, now Penn State Mont Alto, still educates America’s foresters as well as students in many other academic programs.

The goal in the early 1900s was to crusade for a change from the barren hills caused by forest fires and charcoal production. George Wirt, the Academy’s first administrator, patterned the curriculum after curricula in Germany, a leader in reforestation.  In 1929, much to the distress of the Mont Alto students, the Commonwealth decided that the Academy had trained enough foresters. The Pennsylvania State College (now University) also offered forestry and was merged with the Academy to form the Mont Alto campus. Students were adamantly opposed to the merger, and they protested by hanging two state officials in effigy in front of Conklin Hall. Going further, many of the students in 1929 transferred to North Carolina State University to complete their education.

Beginning in 1930, the campus was used as the first year of training for Penn State forestry students. They completed the remaining three years of study at University Park. By 1963, Penn State Mont Alto had become a Commonwealth Campus, offering the first one or two years of most Penn States majors. This was the first time that the campus was considered “coeducational.”  Today, Mont Alto offers seven baccalaureate degrees and eight associate degrees, and serves more than 1,200 students annually. The campus also serves the business and community through its Continuing Education Center.

“We are proud to be the oldest Penn State campus outside of University Park, and we are excited to celebrate the impact that this institution has made in the lives of so many for more than 100 years,” says Dr. David Gnage, former Penn State Mont Alto chancellor.

"We are proud to be perhaps the most historic of the Commonwealth campuses and to have been at the forefront of the sustainability movement as early as the turn of the twentieth century," says Dr. Francis K. Achampong, Chancellor of Penn State Mont Alto.


For more interesting and historical facts about Penn State Mont Alto, please follow the links below.