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University Archives and Special Collections at Lock Haven

University History

Lock Haven University 
A Brief History

Lock Haven University was established in 1870 as the Central State Normal School, with the mission to train teachers for Central Pennsylvania. Its program was in keeping with the traditions of the "Ecole Normale" schools of the First French Republic (1794) and the Pennsylvania Normal School Act of 1857.

The first classes at the new school were held in May of 1877 and were taught in Price Hall, which built on the current site of North Hall, was a five story building overlooking the Susquehanna River. In 1888, Price Hall was destroyed by fire. In its place, a new school, which housed offices, classrooms, and residence halls, was built at the current site of Stevenson Library.

The school was acquired by the state of Pennsylvania in 1915 and was renamed Lock Haven State Teachers College in 1927.  As a teachers college, it was accorded the power to grant Bachelor of Science degrees in elementary and secondary education. 

In 1935, the four-year health and physical education degree was added as a major course of study.

In 1942, Richard T. Parsons, an alumnus of the school, was named the school's third college president. Under his leadership, which lasted until 1970, the student population grew from 146 to over 2300 and teaching faculty increased from 25 to 170. It was also under his leadership that the institution experienced its largest building program.

In 1960, the school's name was changed again to Lock Haven State College. The school's teaching emphasis was shifted from teacher education to include majors in the humanities, fine arts, mathematics and social sciences.

In 1983, the school's name was changed to Lock Haven University as a result of the creation of the State System of Higher Education. In 1989, the school founded a branch campus in Clearfield, Pennsylvania.  One year later, the branch campus was authorized to offer an associate degree in nursing.