Historical Markers
Edinboro State College Historical Marker
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Edinboro State College

Lake Erie Region


Marker Location:
U.S. 6N at campus in Edinboro

Dedication Date:
May 31, 1968

Behind the Marker

Exterior and grounds, students sit and stand around the grounds.
Normal Hall, Edinboro State Normal School, Edinboro, PA, 1909.
The educational reformers who designed the state normal school system for teacher preparation intentionally located the teacher training institutions in remote areas outside the centers of population. Often these new schools grew out of existing academies, like the 1851 Edinboro Academy in Erie County. Less than a decade after its founding by Scottish immigrants, the private Edinboro Academy was reopened as the Edinboro State Normal School, with a student body of 137 prospective teachers. The quick increase of that number to more than 500 indicates how Pennsylvanians quickly embraced the professionalization of teaching in the decade preceding the outbreak of the Civil War.

In the early 1900s, the Commonwealth reorganized Edinboro, Lock Haven, East Stroudsburg, and the state's other provincial normal schools as state teacher's colleges. In the 1960s, the state reorganized them again, as comprehensive regional universities.

For Edinboro State College, one of the original institutions dedicated for the training of public school teachers, the transition to a full-fledged liberal arts college in 1960 reflected the unprecedented access to higher education in the post-World War II era. By 1960, at Edinboro and the other sister institutions, the leap from single-purpose education (teacher training) to broad liberal-arts degree programs was indicative of a trend experienced throughout the nation.

Group photograph of Edinboro Faculty, 1913
Faculty, Edinboro State Normal School, Edinboro, PA, 1913.
With the dramatic increase in demand for post-secondary education after the Second World War, Edinboro and other colleges experienced a remarkable period of growth throughout the 1960s and 1970s. New undergraduate and graduate degree programs offered a broad array of academic specialties at the former teachers' college.

Though teacher training remained central to the institutional mission, a new vision for public colleges offered an affordable alternative to the more exclusive private college. New dormitories and classroom buildings were completed to accommodate the growing student body and diversity of campus activities. Like its sister institutions, Edinboro placed greater importance on student services and academic-support programs.

Another sea change occurred with the passage of Act 188, the 1982 Pennsylvania law that united the fourteen state colleges in a common State System of Higher Education. Supported by APSCUF (the state college teachers union) and by local management at each of the schools, Act 188 separated the new state universities from the direct control of the Pennsylvania Department of Education in favor a system-wide Board of Governors and a Chancellor. The system's headquarters is in Harrisburg, the state capital.

May Pole dance on Arbor Day
May Pole Dance, Edinboro State Normal School, Edinboro, PA, circa 1913.
Governor Richard Thornburgh endorsed the measure as a step toward stronger educational standards and administrative efficiency. The creation of a new educational bureaucracy required that each of the fourteen new universities alter their charters and administrative structures to complement changes at the state level.

College administrators and faculty who expressed concern about a decline in the autonomy of individual campuses nonetheless accepted the greater state funding and professional standards contained in the legislation. Larger public universities like markerPenn State and markerPittsburgh made sure that the new institutions were limited in the kinds of post-baccalaureate degree programs they could offer. With the enactment of Act 188, the days of Pennsylvania's single-purpose state colleges were now gone. Gone too was the provincialism and isolation that once characterized the normal school campuses.

Edinboro University of Pennsylvania was one of the chief beneficiaries of Act 188. Twenty years later, the Erie-based institution has more than 7,000 students enrolled in nearly 100 undergraduate and graduate degree programs. Reflecting its Scottish roots, Edinboro offers a music minor in Bagpipe Performance. It also hosts a three-day Highland Games Festival, complete with Scottish dancing and bagpipe competitions.
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