Joe Paterno

In Joe Paterno’s extraordinary career as Penn State’s head football coach from 1966 to 2011, Paterno was the most recognizable Penn Stater and citizen of Centre County.  Not only was the longevity of his career at one institution exceptional in the world of intercollegiate football, but his success was unequaled as well: No other NCAA […]

Thelma Price

Thelma Price was the first Black woman to serve as assistant vice president for Student Affairs at Penn State. She was known for her advocacy of minority students. The native of Detroit, joined Penn State in 1964 as an assistant dean of students at the New Kensington campus. In 1971, she became the acting director […]

Ralph Dorn Hetzel

Ralph Dorn Hetzel lead Penn State from 1926 to 1947, a period of exceptional growth in enrollment and campus construction, despite the twin crises of the Great Depression and World War II.  During his tenure, enrollment grew from about 4,000 to more than 12,000, including a several new satellite campuses. The university also embarked on […]

Calvin Waller

Calvin H. Waller is considered the first Black graduate of Penn State. The native of Macon, Georgia, graduated in 1905 with a bachelor of science degree in agriculture. At the time, relatively few black students enrolled at state colleges and no official records indicated the racial identities of students during the time Waller was enrolled. […]

James A. Beaver

James Addams Beaver was a widely known attorney, a Civil War officer, and the governor of Pennsylvania from 1887-1891. He also played a leading role in Penn State’s early decades and served as interim president for two years; today, the football stadium bears his name. Beaver was born on October 21, 1837, in Millerstown, Perry […]

Moses Thompson

Moses Thompson was the last ironmaster of Centre Furnace. He was a banker, an investor in canals, turnpikes and railroads, and at his death in 1891 the largest landowner in Centre County. His economic and political influence helped bring the Farmers’ High School of Pennsylvania, the future Penn State, to Centre County, and he was […]

Dorothy “Dot” Anderson

Dorothy “Dot” Anderson was the first and only woman to earn a Penn State “Varsity-S” letter for her feats on a men’s athletic team.  The dynamic tennis player attended Butler High School in Western Pennsylvania. Although tennis enjoyed limited popularity in the region, Anderson began playing in the fourth grade and found opportunities to compete […]

Rene Portland

Rene Portland was the head coach of the Penn State Lady Lions from 1980 to 2007, turning the team into a women’s basketball powerhouse. Under her leadership, the team won 606 games, earned their first Number 1 ranking, and reached their first Final Four. Rene (pronounced REE-NEE) Portland was the nickname and married name of […]

Hilda Thompson

Hilda Patton Thompson was a passionate humanitarian who founded the State College chapter of the American Red Cross Motor Corps. She continued her work with the Red Cross, holding leadership positions during World War I and World War II. Thompson was born at Centre Furnace on August 28, 1893, to James Irvin Thompson and Mary […]

Horace Ashenfelter

Horace Ashenfelter competes in the 3,000 meters steeplechase at the 1952 Olympic Games in Finland

Horace Ashenfelter was a Penn State graduate, Olympic gold medalist, and world record holder in the 3,000-meter steeplechase. The Collegeville, Pennsylvania, native was a four-time All-American as a member of the Penn State track team and the two-mile NCAA national champion in 1949. Ashenfelter, then a field agent for the FBI, was the surprise winner […]