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Mont Alto embarks on bachelor's program

August 27, 1997

By RICHARD F. BELISLE

Staff Writer, Waynesboro

MONT ALTO, Pa. - Penn State Mont Alto kicked off its 1997 academic year Wednesday with a bunch of firsts, including its first four-year degree program, first Founders Convocation and a brand new president.

David Goldenberg was hired as the 11th chief executive officer to head the college since it opened in 1903. It started out as the Pennsylvania State Forest Academy on a 19,000-acre plot owned by the Mont Alto Iron Company. The school merged with Penn State in 1929. For years after that, all forestry students spent their first year at Mont Alto.

"As we start this new academic year, enormous change has already taken place that fundamentally alters the manner in which higher education will be provided in the Commonwealth," Goldenberg told faculty and students assembled in the college gym for the convocation.

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"The eyes of Penn State and perhaps the entire Commonwealth are upon Mont Alto because we have been selected to be the first to offer a bachelor's degree program in a major not offered at University Park," Goldenberg said.

The creation of the new program in July allows Penn State's 18 satellite campuses to develop baccalaureate degree programs for the first time, said Laura K. Frame, college spokesperson. Mont Alto is the first, beginning with four-year degrees in occupational therapy, nursing and human development and family studies.

Mont Alto serves 1,200 students per semester and is the largest campus in the university system. The system was created in 1963 so students across the state could meet their basic degree requirements close to home. After two years, they transfer to the main campus at University Park.

A highlight of Wednesday's convocation was the introduction of Charles H. Shafer, 82, of Nazareth, Pa. Shafer attended the Mont Alto forestry school from 1927 to 1929 when Penn State took over the campus. He said he and most of his classmates followed their teacher to North Carolina State to finish their degrees. He remembers that the takeover was "pretty controversial and political when it happened."

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