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An academy “to teach the youth the elements of a classical education” was established in Bloomsburg in 1839. The academy continued until 1856 when it was reorganized as Bloomsburg Literary Institute. A building – now known as Carver Hall in memory of Henry Carver, the first principal – was erected in 1867 and, today, is the university’s landmark and home to offices of the president and provost.
Bloomsburg Literary Institute became Bloomsburg Literary Institute and State Normal School in 1869. The school continued under this name until 1916 when it was purchased by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and named Bloomsburg State Normal School.
The emphasis at the Normal School changed during the early 1920s from secondary and college preparatory courses for special teachers to full-time teacher education. The new direction led to the designation “Bloomsburg State Teachers College” in 1927. The institution was authorized to grant a bachelor of science in education, a degree which prepared students for teaching careers.
Under the administration of Francis Haas (1927 to 1937), a new degree in business education was added. The next president, Harvey Andruss, served for 30 years (1939 to 1969) and is memorialized in the name of the university’s library.
During World War II, the U.S. Navy V-12 Officer Training Program was conducted on campus, a service now commemorated in the naming of Navy Hall. In 1957, the Division of Special Education was instituted. Major expansions in facilities, faculty and student body followed.
In 1960, the school’s name was changed to Bloomsburg State College. Authorization was received to grant a bachelor of arts for liberal arts programs in the humanities, social sciences and natural sciences and mathematics. Graduate study leading to a master of education was inaugurated. A doctoral program in clinical audiology, in conjunction with Indiana University of Pennsylvania, was approved in 2003.
The institution’s current title, Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania, was officially adopted when commonwealth legislation established the 14-member State System of Higher Education on July 1, 1983. James McCormick, BU’s president at the time, became the System’s first chancellor. David L. Soltz became BU’s 18th president in January 2008.