Our History

Every school has a history. Bloomsburg's is personal.

Henry Carver never took the easy path forward. He was an educator with a restless streak, unafraid to take drastic measures for the sake of education. He founded Bloomsburg University because he believed that a desire for knowledge and having a remarkable work ethic went hand in hand. His vision that higher education should be available to anyone who is ready to work for a better life drives us still today.

An academy “to teach the youth the elements of a classical education” was established in Bloomsburg in 1839. The academy continued – on and off in different locations – until the arrival of Carver in 1866 and the establishment of the Bloomsburg Literary Institute. A building – now known as Carver Hall in memory of Henry Carver as the first principal – was dedicated in 1867 and, today is the university’s landmark and home to the office of the president.

The Bloomsburg Literary Institute was authorized as a State Normal School in 1869 and added teacher education to its college preparatory courses. The school continued under this name until 1916 when it was purchased by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and renamed the Bloomsburg State Normal School.
The emphasis at the Normal School then changed to full-time teacher education. The new direction led to the designation “Bloomsburg State Teachers College” in 1927. The institution was authorized to grant a bachelor of science in education, a degree that prepared students for teaching careers.

Under the administration of Francis Haas (1927 to 1937), a new degree in business education was added. The next president, Harvey Andruss, served for 30 years (1939 to 1969) and is memorialized in the name of the university’s library.

During World War II, two U.S. Navy training programs – V-5 for flight instructors and V-12 for officers – were conducted on campus, a service commemorated in the naming of Navy Hall. In 1957, the Division of Special Education was instituted. Major expansions in facilities, faculty and student body followed. 

In 1960, the school’s name was changed to Bloomsburg State College. Authorization was received to grant a bachelor of arts for liberal arts programs in the humanities, social sciences and natural sciences, and mathematics. Graduate study leading to a master of education was inaugurated. A doctoral program in clinical audiology, in conjunction with the Indiana University of Pennsylvania, was approved in 2003.

The institution’s current title, Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania, was officially adopted when commonwealth legislation established the 14-member State System of Higher Education on July 1, 1983. James McCormick, BU’s president at the time, became the System’s first chancellor. 

Bashar W. Hanna, Ph.D., became the 19th person to serve as president of Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania when he began his tenure in July 2017.

Overview of the History Timeline

1866 â€“ Land acquired; Henry Carver named first principal
1867 â€“ Henry Carver, Bloomsburg University’s first president, laid the foundation for the building that bears his name
1869 â€“ Became State Normal School of the 6th District
1919 â€“ Dedication of World War I Pinery, in memory of 16 students who died in the war
1926 â€“ Enrollment of 712 students (earliest record available)
1927 â€“ Became Bloomsburg State Teachers College
1954 â€“ Dedication of Carver Hall beacon in memory of 27 former students and alumni who died in World War II
1960 â€“ Became Bloomsburg State College
1964 â€“ Enrollment of 2,592 (first year master’s-level classes were offered)
1983 â€“ Became Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania, part of Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education; enrollment of 6,316
2003 â€“ Community Government Association signed agreement leading to construction of Honeysuckle Apartments
2003 â€“ First doctoral program approved, doctor in clinical audiology
2007 â€“ Academic Quadrangle completed as final phase of major campus construction/renovation project
2010 â€“ Enrollment of 10,091 students

Complete History Timeline

  • 1838: November 2 - Land is purchased at the corner of West Third and Jefferson Streets for a new school building in Bloomsburg
  • 1839: April 2 - The first known meeting is held in the recently completed Bloomsburg Academy
  • 1856: Fall - The Bloomsburg Literary Institute is officially chartered
  • 1866: April 9 - Henry Carver opens the Bloomsburg Literary Institute
  • 1866: June 16 - The Literary Institute trustees purchase three acres of land for a new building
  • 1867: April 3 - The first day of the two-day dedication ceremony for Institute Hall, named Carver Hall in 1927
  • 1867: May 25 - A bell is raised into the cupola of Institute Hall and rung for the first time
  • 1868: June 25 - Cornerstone laying ceremony for the first dormitory is held
  • 1869: February 22 - The Bloomsburg Literary Institute is recognized as a state normal school
  • 1870: June 23 - The date of the first graduation ceremony for the Bloomsburg State Normal School
  • 1871: June 22 - The Bloomsburg State Normal School Alumni Association is formed
  • 1875: September 4 - The original campus dormitory burns down
  • 1876: April 6 - Dedication of the new dormitory building, named Waller Hall in 1927
  • 1886: December 20 - The model school moves into its new building, named Noetling Hall in 1927
  • 1889: July 31 - The trustees purchase two plots of land, later the site of Elwell Hall
  • 1890: May 9 The first official baseball game in school history is played
  • 1890: Summer - Smaller libraries in the dormitory are consolidated into a single facility
  • 1890: July - Work on the dormitory porch, later called Long Porch, is completed
  • 1892: October 22 - The first official football game in school history is played
  • 1894: January 15 - The first gymnasium opens
  • 1894: February 5 - Publication of the first issue of the B.S.N.S. Quarterly
  • 1894: December 13 - The first official basketball game in school history is played
  • 1895: Spring - The school colors of maroon and lemon, later gold, are chosen
  • 1895: May - The new campus athletic field hosts its first athletic event
  • 1895: November 14 - A form of student government is established
  • 1900: Summer - A tower is built on the front of Institute Hall, replacing the cupola
  • 1900: December 7 - The clock is installed in the Institute Hall tower
  • 1901: June 26 - Simon Palmer is the first Native American graduate
  • 1903: July 17 - The trustees approve the purchase of Buckalew Place
  • 1904: February 4 - Fire damages the employees’ dormitory, later named North Hall
  • 1904: Spring - A fountain is installed in Penn Street in front of Institute Hall
  • 1905: October 5 - The trustees approve the construction of a new science building
  • 1906: May 12 - The second athletic field, called Mount Olympus, hosts its first athletic event
  • 1906: June 26 - The first Ivy Day ceremony is held as part of commencement
  • 1906: June 27 - Juan Osuna and Maria Santaella of Puerto Rico are the first Hispanic graduates
  • 1907: March 25 - Science Hall, now Old Science, opens for the first time
  • 1908: April 12 - The trustees purchase land along Spruce Street, the future site of Ben Franklin Hall
  • 1910: May 2 - The first May Day ceremony is held on campus
  • 1911: Fall - The Alma Mater is sung for the first time
  • 1915: June 23 - Helen Parks is the first African-American graduate
  • 1916: May 22 - The Bloomsburg State Normal School is purchased by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
  • 1919: May 30 - The dedication ceremony is held for the WWI Memorial Pinery
  • 1919: June 30 - The first session of summer school begins
  • 1920: June 5 - The ceremony is held to dedicate the Tiffany stained glass windows in Waller Hall, now in Andruss Library
  • 1922: Summer - Buckalew Place, after being rented out for 12 years, is remodeled and once again becomes the home of the Normal School principal
  • 1923: March 3 - Publication of the first campus newspaper, Hill Top News and Views
  • 1925: Fall - Freshman customs were instituted and would be required of new students for 45 years
  • 1926: June 4 - The Normal School is given authorization to grant bachelor’s degrees
  • 1927: May 13 - The Bloomsburg State Normal School becomes Bloomsburg State Teachers College
  • 1927: June 10 - The first bachelor of science degree in education is awarded
  • 1927: July 11 - The trustees approve Institute Hall being renamed Carver Hall
  • 1928: November 17 - The first official Homecoming is held
  • 1929: October 25 - The college purchased 18 and a half acres of land from Spruce Street to the east, linking the campus to Buckalew Place
  • 1930: January 25 - The first official wrestling match in school history is held
  • 1930: February 24 - Approval is given to establish the commercial (business education) department
  • 1930: November 8 - The Ben Franklin Training School building is dedicated
  • 1931: March - The first permanent light is installed on the Carver Hall dome
  • 1931: October 24 - The Maroon & Gold Marching Band makes its first appearance at a football game
  • 1933: October 9 - The husky is adopted as the official school athletic mascot
  • 1936: Spring - The third athletic field hosts its first athletic contest
  • 1938: January 19 - The groundbreaking ceremony is held for the new campus gymnasium
  • 1940: September - A civilian pilot training program is started at the Bloomsburg Airport
  • 1942: May 23 - The dedication ceremony is held for Centennial Gymnasium
  • 1942: Fall - The U.S. Navy V-5 Flight Instructor training program begins
  • 1943: July 1 - The first U.S. Navy V-12 Officer training program cadets arrive on campus
  • 1945: October 24 - The V-12 Officer Training program comes to an end
  • 1947: May 2 - The first Fashion Show sponsored by Business Education is held
  • 1948: May 22 - The Alumni Association presents the first Distinguished Service awards
  • 1948: November 13 - The football team completes the first undefeated season in program history
  • 1950: April 28 - The college is accredited for the first time by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools
  • 1954: February 19 - The beacon on Carver Hall is lit, dedicated to students who died in WWII
  • 1956: Fall - The college’s enrollment surpasses 1,000 students for the first time
  • 1957: April 23 - The new College Commons opens
  • 1957: May 26 - After being held in Carver Auditorium since 1870, the commencement ceremony is moved to Centennial Gymnasium
  • 1957: October 18 - The first official Homecoming Parade is held
  • 1959: May 12 - The cornerstone laying ceremony is held for Sutliff Hall and New North (Northumberland) Hall
  • 1960: January 8 - Bloomsburg State Teachers College becomes Bloomsburg State College
  • 1960: March 19 - The wrestling team wins the first national title in school history at the NAIA Championships
  • 1960: Fall - The Special Education program moves into its remodeled space in Navy Hall
  • 1961: June - The graduate program leading to a Master of Science in Education degree is inaugurated
  • 1962: May 23 - Approval is given to award Bachelor of Arts degrees
  • 1962: Fall - Computers are used for the first time to schedule classes
  • 1962: September 26 - The first land on the upper campus is acquired when the former Bloomsburg Country Club is purchased
  • 1962: October 9 - The first official women’s intercollegiate athletic event is held when the field hockey team plays at Lock Haven
  • 1963: February 1 - The first official women’s basketball game is held
  • 1963: May 8 - The final May Day ceremony is held
  • 1963: May 26 - First appearance of the College Mace and first master’s degree awarded
  • 1964: May 21 - The final Ivy Day ceremony is held
  • 1964: October - The College celebrates its 125th anniversary
  • 1964: October 17 - East (Montour) and West (Schuylkill) Halls are dedicated
  • 1964: November 12 - The groundbreaking ceremony is held for the first library building on campus
  • 1965: April 9 - The first student protest takes place in Centennial Gymnasium
  • 1965: April 23 - The first Reading Conference on campus is held
  • 1966: August - The North Hall dormitory is demolished, current site of Luzerne Hall
  • 1966: September 14 - Opening day of the first campus library building
  • 1966: October 14 - SIO receives approval as the first campus social fraternity
  • 1967: June - The Ben Franklin Laboratory School closes, ending 98 years of an elementary school on campus
  • 1967: October 12 - The first Harvey A. Andruss Library and Haas Auditorium are dedicated
  • 1967: December 10 - 1920 graduate Haldan Keffer Hartline is awarded the Nobel Prize in physiology and medicine
  • 1968: March 16 - Future President Gerald R. Ford speaks at the mock political convention
  • 1968: September - The first high-rise building on campus, Elwell Hall, opens
  • 1969: April 26 - The Hartline Science Center and Elwell Hall are dedicated
  • 1969: May 25 - Commencement is held for the first time at the Bloomsburg Fairgrounds
  • 1969: August 29 - Harvey A. Andruss ends 30 years as President
  • 1970: April 15 - The dedication ceremony is held for the William W. Scranton Commons
  • 1970: May 20 - The Bloomsburg Foundation is established
  • 1970: October 24 - The Bakeless Center for the Humanities is dedicated
  • 1971: March - The Black Student Society is recognized as the first campus multicultural student organization
  • 1971: October 6 - APSCUF is chosen to represent the faculty in collective bargaining
  • 1972: December 2 - The first basketball game is played in Nelson Fieldhouse
  • 1973: May 5 - The Kehr Union, Nelson Fieldhouse, and Waller Administration Building are dedicated
  • 1973: Fall - The Tonal Sculptures are installed in front of the Haas Center
  • 1973: November 6 - For the first time students are able to vote on campus in a local election
  • 1974: March 16 - Shorty Hitchcock becomes the first NCAA individual champion in school history when he wins a wrestling title
  • 1974: September 21 - Robert B. Redman Stadium is dedicated
  • 1975: January - Waller Hall is demolished
  • 1975: January 17 - After 50 years the student newspaper, the Maroon and Gold, is renamed the Campus Voice
  • 1975: January 24 - The first dance marathon to raise money for charity is held
  • 1976: April 20 - Approval is given for the Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing
  • 1978: May 6 - The first street festival, renamed Renaissance Jamboree in 1980, is held on Main Street
  • 1979: October 6 - The costumed husky mascot makes its first appearance
  • 1981: November 21 - The women’s field hockey team wins its first national title
  • 1982: May 2 - The inaugural class is inducted into the Athletic Hall of Fame
  • 1982: May 22 - The women’s softball team wins the AIAW Division III National Championship
  • 1983: March 31 - The groundbreaking ceremony is held for the McCormick Center
  • 1983: July 1 - Bloomsburg State College becomes Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania
  • 1983: September 11 - A dedication convocation is held in the Haas Center to celebrate Bloomsburg’s new status as a university
  • 1983: December 18 - The first honorary doctorate is awarded
  • 1984: October 27 - The dedication ceremony is held for the husky statue on the Carver Hall lawn
  • 1984: October 28 - The McCormick Center for Human Services is dedicated
  • 1985: April 11 - The Alumni Association purchases a house next to campus, later named after 1912 alumnus Howard Fenstemaker
  • 1985: September 18 - The ceremonial opening is held for the pedestrian walkway over Lightstreet Road
  • 1986: January 1 - The Foundation, now the Bloomsburg University Foundation, is reactivated
  • 1986: January 26 - The student newspaper is renamed the Voice
  • 1986: Fall - The Celebrity Artist Series is inaugurated
  • 1987: March - A draft is presented for the new campus governance structure, which is called the University Forum
  • 1987: March 21 - Rick Bonomo wins his third consecutive NCAA wrestling title
  • 1988: October 22 - The more than one-year Sesquicentennial Celebration begins
  • 1989: Fall - The library’s first online catalog is now accessible to campus users
  • 1989: October 28 - The Veterans’ Memorial at the Fenstemaker Alumni House is dedicated
  • 1990: April 28 - A renovated Old Science Hall is dedicated
  • 1993: January 19 - The remodeled and enlarged Kehr Union is rededicated
  • 1994: January 31 - The Multicultural Center is dedicated
  • 1994: February 24 - The first Martin Luther King, Jr., Commemorative Banquet is held
  • 1994: May 9 - Chuck Daly, a 1952 alumnus, is inducted into the National Basketball Hall of Fame
  • 1995: February 6 - The Student Recreation Center opens for the first time
  • 1995: Spring - The university website becomes active on the World Wide Web
  • 1995: September - The first issue of Bloomsburg: The University Magazine is released
  • 1995: December 15 - The first graduate commencement ceremony is held in the Haas Center
  • 1996: October 25 - The dedication ceremony is held for the Five Friends Memorial Plaza
  • 1996: December 14 - Archbishop and Nobel Prize winner Desmond Tutu speaks at commencement
  • 1997: April 20 - Field Hockey and Softball head coach Jan Hutchinson becomes the first women’s coach in NCAA history with 1,000 total career victories
  • 1998: September 11 - The dedication ceremony is held for the current Harvey A. Andruss Library
  • 1999: March 23 - Opening of the QUEST climbing wall on the upper campus
  • 1999: October 12 - The Frederick Douglass Institute for freshman orientation is started
  • 1999: December 4 - The organizational meeting is held for the Friends of the Bloomsburg University Library Association
  • 2001: Fall - The College of Arts and Sciences splits into the College of Liberal Arts and College of Science and Technology
  • 2001: September 5 - The rebuilt Centennial Hall is dedicated
  • 2001: October 5 - Alumnus Mark Schweiker is sworn in as the 44th governor of Pennsylvania
  • 2002: March 20 - The Council of Trustees approves university police carrying firearms
  • 2003: January - The Doctor of Audiology program is implemented
  • 2003: April 25 - A rededication ceremony is held for the World War I War Hero Memorial Pinery
  • 2004: August 30 - The new Monty’s opens
  • 2004: December - The College of Business received AACSB accreditation
  • 2005: August 27 - The newest incarnation of the Husky mascot, named Roongo, is introduced at the season-opening football game
  • 2005: August 31 - The west wing of the Hartline Science Center is dedicated
  • 2005: Fall - The CGA-run Honeysuckle Apartments open
  • 2006: April 22 - The remodeled Navy Hall is rededicated
  • 2007: July 21 - Frank Sheptock, a 1986 alumnus, is inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame
  • 2007: October 20 - The dedication ceremony is held for the Academic Quad
  • 2007: November 3 - The football team wins the 500th game in program history
  • 2009: August 22 - A grave marker for Henry Carver is dedicated in Riverside Cemetery, Denver, Colorado
  • 2009: October 16 - The Jessica S. Kozloff Apartments are dedicated
  • 2010: February 7 - Former All-American football player Jahri Evans earns a Super Bowl ring when the New Orleans Saints win the NFL title
  • 2010: March 27 - The Big Event, a CGA community service project, is held for the first time
  • 2010: May 29 - Jan Hutchinson records the 1807th and final victory in her career as a head coach at Bloomsburg University
  • 2010: September 3 - The first Farmers Market is held on campus
  • 2010: November 12 - The remodeled original section of the Hartline Science Center is dedicated
  • 2011: September 8 - Record flooding closes the university down for what would become ten days
  • 2012: April 27 - The rebuilt Sutliff Hall is dedicated
  • 2012: April 28 - The field at Redman Stadium is named in honor of football coach Danny Hale
  • 2014: October - The University concludes celebrating its 175th anniversary
  • 2015: June 12 - The new home of the BU Foundation, the Greenly Center on Main Street, is dedicated
  • 2016: November 4 - The College of Business is named for Terry and JoAnn Zeigler
  • 2017: October 6 - The newest campus residence hall and home of the University Store, Soltz Hall, is dedicated
  • 2019: August - After 34 years, the Alumni Association leaves the Fenstemaker Alumni House and moves to the third floor of the Greenly Center
  • 2019: September 5 - The Sekisui Professional Experience Lab in the Greenly Center is dedicated
  • 2019: December 4 - It is announced the athletic facilities on the upper campus will be renamed the Pettit Athletic Complex for 1989 alumnus Steph Pettit
  • 2020: March - The University switches to virtual learning for the rest of the spring semester in response to the COVID pandemic
illustration of Carver Hall