Harrisburg chancellor highlights campus growth, educational leadership

Fountain at Penn State Harrisburg

Penn State's Board of Trustees met at Penn State Harrisburg on July 20-21. The meeting is the fourth time the campus has hosted a meeting of the trustees.

Credit: Penn State

MIDDLETOWN, Pa. -- Penn State Harrisburg Chancellor Mukund Kulkarni reflected on the campus’ 50-year history as an educational leader and economic driver in the capital region, while discussing the growth and transformation of the campus, during the University’s Board of Trustees July meeting, held at the campus. 

Penn State Harrisburg this past year celebrated its 50th anniversary. Founded on the site of the former Olmsted Air Force Base in 1966 as Penn State’s Capitol Campus, the campus was Pennsylvania’s first upper-division and graduate school and one of only three in the nation at the time. In the span of 50 years, the campus has grown from eight faculty members, 18 undergraduates and 165 graduate students to 371 full- and part-time faculty members, and 5,000 students from the U.S. and 45 countries.   

“Penn State Harrisburg has experienced 15 years of uninterrupted enrollment growth,” Kulkarni said.  “We have a diverse student body. The campus community as a whole embraces a welcoming and inclusive environment. This diversity enhances the educational experience for all students.” 

The campus now offers more than 65 associate, bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degree programs and over the past five decades, has experienced significant growth in academic and co-curricular programming, grounds and architecture, and the college community itself as it went from an Air Force base to a regional leader in higher education. 

“We are very pleased to host the Board of Trustees this year, as we are concluding the celebration of Penn State Harrisburg’s 50th anniversary,” Kulkarni said. “The campus has grown tremendously since and has truly begun to realize its full potential and its full transformation into a place of intellectual engagement and as vital to the local economy.” 

Kulkarni touted the campus’ reputation for academic excellence and service to students, as well as the expertise of its faculty and staff. 

“Our faculty expertise is the basis for one of the campus’ greatest contributions in the region –intellectual capital. This is the basis for our outreach to business and industry, government and community organizations.” 

Penn State Harrisburg is home to a number of research centers and institutes. Each has a specific mission and each represents an important resource for the Commonwealth, Kulkarni said.  The most recent addition to this list is the campus’ Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship.  

“We are proud to have been among the first campuses to receive seed funding through President Eric Barron’s Invent Penn State initiative to create the center,” Kulkarni added. “Our effort is somewhat unique in that we have joined in collaboration with Penn State’s College of Medicine and Dickinson Law. We are pleased to be able to extend the Invent Penn State goals within the region in this way, and this is the perfect time and way for us to take the next step in our evolution as a significant economic development driver in central Pennsylvania.”