Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Tradition and Sustainability

By Devin Carter

The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has the privilege of being one of the oldest in the entire United States, ratifying the U.S. Constitution in 1787, 2nd after Delaware[1]. This has given Pennsylvania a unique history that has greatly resembled the history of the United States[2]. The rise and fall of industrial and manufacturing jobs has occurred throughout the US since the beginning, but Pennsylvania has endured this sea of uncertainty through a variety of means. Pittsburgh has re-established and re-branded itself from a strictly blue collar steel and coal producing area, to a modern city with artistic, market, and educational districts.[3] On a more local level Indiana, and the surrounding smaller boroughs and towns, has remained relevant due to their local university.


Sutton Hall Indiana Normal School

Indiana University of Pennsylvania was first established in 1875, and at the time was called Indiana Normal School[4]. Over the next 45 years the school would pass from the hands of the original private investors to the possession of the Commonwealth. This is when the Normal School became the Teachers College at Indiana. It would not be until the 1960’s that the process of turning the original Normal School in to an accredited university would be fully complete. In 1965 the school was granted university status and was given the name that still stands today, Indiana University of Pennsylvania[5].


Putt Hall, Newly Constructed

IUP has been growing constantly, maybe not consistently, since the first school building was built in the 1870’s. Enrollment numbers went from just a few hundred students to now over almost fifteen thousand graduate and undergraduate students. IUP now has over sixty buildings including administrative offices, athletic training facilities, classroom and laboratories, and dormitories, fostering work, training, education, and recreation. These facilities provide a countless number of people with jobs and job security. Expansion and renovation of campus buildings enables area construction workers, electricians, carpenters, plumbers, and others will be able to find employment. As a local resident since 1990 I have personally seen the campus take on a brand new look, with the emergence of high quality suites and brand new buildings. [6]

Keith Hall

Keith Hall

Faculty positions are not the only positions available in the educational buildings; there are a good number of staff workers that keep departments running. If you go in to any department or school to find out information, secretaries or assistants are often the best people to help. Any student on campus can see the different departmental vans driving around, all are employees of IUP. Maintenance departments keep educational buildings functioning to their fullest potential. These men and women are all employed by the university, but may not live directly in the borough. They take their wages and earnings to their families and invest in their local communities be it Marion or Homer Center. The same can be said about the professors and coaches; some may live in the borough, but others live elsewhere. Overall, from the beginning, the university has provided a safe and secure job that many people have taken advantage of and thrived[7].


Aerial View of Dorms

Indiana as a small borough would not have been able to survive and thrive as long as it has without the direct help of the university providing economic stability to the region. When the coal mines all go away, and the last bit of power has been taken from the plants, only the university will remain as a reliable and steadfast employer. It has provided countless opportunities to men and women looking to make a career since 1875. IUP will enable growth to occur throughout not only the borough, but any surrounding town that will affiliate with the university.


[1] “Pennsylvania ratifies the Constitution of 1787”. Retrieved Nov 8, 2014

[2] Pennsylvania was at the heart of many of the different “booms” in American economic history. Coal, timber, oil, steel, textiles, and glass were all mined, drilled, or produced in Pennsylvania. The state has been able to shift to the changing wind that is the United States political landscape. Pennsylvania had a direct role in industrializing the nation, leading us into our modern age of prosperity. Much like the United States, Pennsylvania has shifted from being resource area, to a production and manufacturing area, to now a modern mix of the industrial past and the consumer future.

[3] Kitch, Caroline. Pennsylvania in Public Memory. University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press (2012)

[4] Merryman, John Edward The Indiana Story 1875–1975: Pennsylvania’s First State University… Indiana Printing and Publishing Co., Indiana, Pennsylvania (1976)

[5] Much of IUP’s history can be found at various places on the web site by going to and searching through the pages. This information came from “A long Tradition” (March, 2008)  To gain University status a college must complete several informal requirements including, but not limited to: student enrollment, diverse choice of programs and majors, and separation of schools within the college.

[6] Shackner, Bill. “IUP betting on upscale housing for students,” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (May 10, 2007).

[7] This does not mean that the University has constantly expanded throughout its history. There have been times with little to no growth, mainly occurring through the 1960’s. The first few years of the State’s ownership of the school saw little growth, but that would not continue and in recent years the campus has been lucky enough to be expanding instead of shrinking.

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