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PennWest Edinboro was founded in 1857 as the Edinboro Academy, a private training school for Pennsylvania teachers. The school was funded and governed by the citizens of Edinboro, Pennsylvania, who paid just $200 for one acre and $3,200 to construct its lone two-story, six-room building, which still stands on campus as the remodeled Academy Hall. Joel Merriman was the Academy's first principal.
In 1861, the Edinboro Academy affiliated with the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to become the second State Normal School in Pennsylvania, known as the Northwest State Normal School.
Purchased from the original stockholders by the state in 1914, the school was renamed Edinboro State Normal School. While a state normal school, Edinboro continued to educate much-needed teachers, and by 1927, with the advancement of academic programs to include liberal arts study, the school was renamed Edinboro State Teachers College.
Further development of the liberal arts to include degree programs outside the field of education resulted in Edinboro becoming Edinboro State College in 1960. Twenty-three years later, in 1983, Pennsylvania established the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE), the largest provider of higher education in the Commonwealth, of which Edinboro is part.
That same year, continued development of undergraduate liberal arts programs and advanced graduate degrees earned Edinboro university status.
Today, PennWest Edinboro sits on 585 sprawling acres. As led by President Dale-Elizabeth Pehrsson, it continues to develop and evolve as northwestern Pennsylvania's largest university. The institution's name has changed and its focus has expanded over the decades, but its core mission of challenging and supporting students in their pursuit of academic excellence remains constant.