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Penn State Berks 50th Anniversary – Howard O. “Mike” Beaver

Penn State Berks 50th Anniversary – Howard O. “Mike” Beaver


[Musical Interlude]
>>Mike Beaver:I came to Penn State as a student — before WWII.
Got a year in. Went in the service. Came out early with an
injury. And I ended up working at Carpernter Technology.
Sort of was a disillusioned young man, having been hurt, and so on.
And worked at Carpenter. Married my high school sweetheart.
She became a secretary at Penn State in the school of Forestry and I went on into
metallurgy as a result of my experience working at Carpenter.
Got my degree and came back to reading in 1948.
And at that time, Penn State was offering extension courses
for certificates through WPI the Wyomissing Polytechnic Institute.
And I was asked to come aboard as a nighttime instructor for adults
and did so for three years teaching metallurgy. In the meantime,
my career was advancing through Carpenter and I got to see the value of what was going
on at WPI, because we were hiring many of two-year graduates
of the WPI program into middle management. Penn State was involved
and would honor the schooling from WPI towards the bachelor’s program at Penn State,
and I became a great supporter of that program. So, when finally Penn State took over,
because the families that were involved in WPI
did not want WPI to just disappear and wanted it to continue in some way and
offered it to Penn State and Penn State took it over with
Harold Perkins becoming the first chief executive officer.
And he was a dynamo. There was no development staff.
Harold was it. It took some of us,
the Tom Handwerks, the Jim Stoudts – people that type –
to really come aboard and help do the job of developing this campus.
An interesting part of the history of Penn State Berks is
how the various buildings on the campus developed here
and why we are where we are now as far as location is concerned.
We started out in the old WPI building, and then we ended up in what is now the borough
hall in Wyomissing — the Thun family home then became our campus
building and then we finally got to this site
We got on this piece of land for two reasons: One, Irving Cohen granted us a piece of land
where they’re now building a shopping center behind Best Buy
and the decision was made that’s not a good piece of land for the
long-term future of Penn State Berks. And Irvy turned around and
bought back the land from Penn State even though he donated it to us in the first
time. At the same time, looking for the other location,
were the interest of the Thuns and the Jannssens to grant us options to buy land here at a
good price once we got here, we had to build buildings.
The first building was the Luerssen building. That was state money.
That came out of the state. That was to be THE campus.
Administration, faculty housing, classrooms, laboratories, that was it.
The next building came along was built locally by local money upon approval
of the capital campaign review board of Berks County.
That granted us approval to campaign for the monies
to build what became the Perkins Building –
again a general purpose building of theatre, classrooms, food service, student
union at that time. That was the Perkins building.
It was not so named at the beginning. It was a building to do those activities.
They approved that and it was a very successful campaign
which was headed by Louie Thun From that came another campaign
ten years later to build another multi-purpose building
a gymnasium, a large convention type center on the campus and that became eventually the
Beaver Community Center. Which was a surprise to me.
I had the honor of chairing that campaign. Both the naming of both the Perkins Building
and the Beaver Community Center was not something we knew about.
That was engineered by Kim Murphy. She really engineered that through trustees
and so on to get those buildings so named. So the capital campaign review board
approved the Perkins building campaign, the beaver community center and then later
on the Franco Building. The Franco building campaign was chaired by
my son, Thomas Beaver.
For a long time there was no other campus that came close to this one
in terms of the percentage of the capital buildings that were here..
Berks County recognized the importance of having a major university presence in berks
County – being part of a major research university.
So when capital campaigns identified Penn State as a recipient
it would be OK to have a campaign, people came aboard, industry came aboard.
Unfortunately, today many of those businesses are no longer here.
The Danas, in terms of major manufacturing, but they always supported it in a big way,
and even though we have over 10,000 Penn State graduates in Berks county,
we get very little support at the Berks campus. Less that 500-600 graduates support capital
campaigns. It’s mainly been the local community that
has done that, rather than the graduates helping to build
this campus or even build University Park any future capital
campaigns we must work much harder with faculty, staff,
and most importantly alumni. For the most part the alumni have not come
to the party. Thun campaign built the Luerssen building,
the Beaver campaign, the campaign that I chaired built the Beaver community center,
and my son’s campaign built the Franco building. Tom Beaver, who is a Lehigh graduate, my son,
built that building. And the most recent addition to the Library,
was a Bob Cardy, headed capital campaign.
[Musical Interlude]

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