Penn State Mont Alto time capsule set for 2053

December 15, 1999

Time capsuleBy RICHARD F. BELISLE / Staff Writer, Waynesboro

photo: RICHARD T. MEAGHER / staff photographer

MONT ALTO, Pa. - Penn State Mont Alto students, faculty and staff are getting an early start this week preparing for the campus' 150th anniversary. It falls in 2053.

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They are building a time capsule with the hope it will tell their successors about campus life at the end of the 20th century.

Many of the students who are contributing to it should still be around when it's opened in the middle of the 21st century.


The capsule has a broad collection of artifacts, including a chunk of Pennsylvania Railroad track that once crossed the campus and a coal tipple that used to sit on what today is the soccer field. Also included is the ceremonial ax used by David H. Goldenberg, the school's chief executive officer, to cut the ribbon across the new bridge that leads to the campus. The bridge opened in the summer of 1998.

Time capsuleThe capsule is getting photos showing campus life from the school's earliest days. It opened in 1903 as the Pennsylvania State Forest Academy with 13 male students. And memorable current events will be marked, including pictures showing the destruction from a major windstorm that ripped through the campus in 1993. Dorm and classroom life will be represented, as well.

In 2001, the campus will graduate its first four-year degree students. Members of that class signed a copy of the school's certificate of accreditation for its first four-year program. It, too, goes in the capsule, said Holly Yingling, school spokeswoman.

Lynette Carter, 19, vice president of the student government association, is coordinating the students contributing to the capsule project. "I'm writing a letter about my life on campus," she said.

Carter is also writing down her life's goals. She said she hopes to be around when the capsule is opened to see if she accomplished them all.

Yingling said many students are writing of their personal experiences on campus.

Also included is a map of the campus as it looks today.

Michael Ray, director of the campus physical plant, said a copy of the video that is shown to prospective students will be put into the capsule. "We may have to put in a VCR so they can see the tape because they won't have things like that in 50 years," he said.

A copy of the school's latest strategic plan is also going in, Yingling said. "That way people will be able to see how things have changed," she said.

Goldenberg wrote a three-page letter for the capsule about his insights into 20th century life. He would be 100 in 2053.

"When I think of the world 50 years from now, I cannot help but look back and ask myself how things have changed over these past 50 years," he wrote. "It often seems foreign to the students of the year 2000 to understand what the current generation of faculty and staff have experienced."

Goldenberg wrote of the splitting of the atom and fear of nuclear war. "The students of today have had a lifetime that has always included AIDS, whereas my generation feared polio."

Today's students have compact discs, he said. "The expression, 'You sound like a broken record,' means nothing to them. They have never even owned a record player."

Great social changes were made by the courts in the 1950s and '60s, particularly advancements in rights for minorities and women.

"In spite of these monumental efforts, we close out the 20th century with only marginal success in eliminating discrimination," Goldenberg wrote. "My greatest hope is that when you open this capsule you feel as though you have made as much progress with the human condition as you have with technology."

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