The Penn State Veterans Plaza and Lt. Michael P. Murphy Memorial

The Penn State Veterans Plaza and Lt. Michael P. Murphy Memorial

Penn State’s military history dates back almost to the founding of the University. Military instruction began at Penn State in 1865, and the first ROTC program was created on the University Park campus in about 1916. Military training was required of all freshman and sophomore male students until 1964, when it became an elective.

Penn State’s Commonwealth Campus system grew and flourished as a direct result of booming enrollments by World War II veterans taking advantage of the new G.I. Bill to get a college education. Penn State enrollments grew from fewer than 6,000 in 1938 to more than 10,000 in 1946, with 55 percent of the postwar student population identified as veterans.

Penn State’s educational connection to our nation’s military personnel and their families continues today, with many programs and services designed to make a Penn State education accessible to them, on any of our campuses and around the world through the World Campus. More information about those programs and services can be found through the links seen in the left column of this page.

In addition, Penn State has planned a variety of activities designed to publicly recognize and express appreciation to all members of our nation’s armed forces, past (veterans), present (active duty and reserve) and future (ROTC) for their commitment to protect and defend our nation.

The centerpiece event of Military Appreciation Week is Operation GameDay, with festivities from a pre-game tailgate to various forms of recognition before and during the football game vs. Temple University on Nov. 15 at Beaver Stadium. Many other activities, events and recognitions are planned throughout the week leading up to the game, as well as throughout the semester and the year.

Visit this site often for updates on Military Appreciation activities and events, which are listed in the Events tab near the top of this page as well as at the top of the left-hand column.

To add a campus or community event to the Military Appreciation events calendar, email the information to and be sure to include contact information.

[Sources: Penn State University Libraries Military History (Special Collections), online; and, online.]

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