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Better Know a Branch Campus: Penn State Beaver

There are 24 campuses in the Penn State system. The one that gets the most attention is University Park, but what about the other 23? That’s where we come in with our newest 23 part series, Better Know a Branch Campus, inspired by Stephen Colbert’s Better Know a District. Next up: Penn State Beaver.

Name: Penn State Beaver, The Fightin’ Beavs

Chancellor: Dr. Gary B. Keefer

Enrollment: 870, making it the sixth smallest branch campus in the Penn State system.

Location: Monaca, Pennsylvania. Beaver is 34 miles from Pittsburgh, 169 miles from State College, and 337 miles from Philadelphia. Beaver is actually closer to Columbus, Ohio (192 miles) than it is Philadelphia, which is unfortunate for a variety of reasons.

Sports: Beaver competes in the PSUAC, the Penn State University Athletic Conference. Seriously, there are so many small branch campuses that all of them compete in their own athletic conference. Your move, Pitt Johnstown.

There are nine sports at Beaver, all governed by the United States Collegiate Athletic Association (USCAA): baseball, men’s and women’s basketball, cheerleading, men’s and women’s soccer, softball, wrestling, and women’s volleyball. The men’s hoops team made it to the USCAA national semifinals last year before losing to the eventual champions. Not bad.

Fun Facts: Penn State Beaver is the only branch campus named after an animal. Or (more likely) after former Pennsylvania governor James A. Beaver. One of the two. (Actually, it’s because the campus is located in Beaver County, but the other two options are way cooler.)

History: Penn State Beaver was established as a branch campus in 1965, the same year as Penn State Shenango. Prior to that, the 100 acres that the campus currently sits on was a farm, an amphitheater, and a tuberculosis sanatorium. The sanatorium closed in the 1950’s, the land was sold to Penn State around 1963, and two years later, Penn State Beaver’s original class of 97 enrolled.

Right Now: The school has more than 200 full and part-time faculty members, along with 870 students. The university offers seven baccalaureate degrees and three associate degrees. Like all other Penn State branch campuses, students can do the 2 + 2 program if they want.

There is one dormitory at Beaver, Harmony Hall. Beaver also has an on campus dining hall called Broadhead Bistro Dining Hall, and the school’s student union building, called the SUB. That’s about as original as a Green Day song.

Story Time: Two stories this week. They’re nowhere near as terrifying as the two from last week at Altoona.

“Although I would describe going to “the Beave” similar to going to a community college only with dorms, I don’t regret the experience at all. If it wasn’t for that place, I would never have met wonderful Lois and Sharon in the bistro. They always cared about how you were doing and were interested to hear all about your problems, regardless of the hardships they were facing in their own lives. Of course there was also Jill, who always went the extra mile to help students with their paperwork and made the transition to college life less scary. And who could forget Larissa, who always remembered your name and was there for you whether you needed to talk about how your roommate was driving you crazy or how you just weren’t sure you were in the right major. I could tell some horror stories about the lovely old Beave, but in the end, I met some of the best people there that I’ve ever met. Heck, all of my roommates here at UP are Beave kids (although they would deny it).”

“I attended Beaver Campus decades ago, so I don’t know if my experience is relevant, but I strongly suspect that it is. For me, It was really an extension of high school, but with more grown-up extracuricular activities. Before the end of my first semester there, everybody knew everybody — whether they wanted to or not. There were cliques, and you hung out with your own on Friday nights (mine was the Commuter Lounge group), but everyone congregated at the orange house across from the mall every Saturday night. They’ve torn town the orange house, but I hope Penn State Beaver students of today have somewhere they can all hang together, because that’s how you build a community — even one that has to completely recreate itself every two years. I can say that when we moved on to University Park, we still had a little mini-community inside the larger University  and that made the transition so much easier.”

Next Time: Penn State Berks. As usual, if you have a good story — and based on some of the people I’ve met from Berks, you do — email me.

Previous Better Know a Branch Campus features: Abington, Altoona

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