Penn State Brandywine’s First Professor Donates Academic and Historical Documents

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Penn State Brandywine Chancellor Marilyn J. Wells picked up boxes of academic and historic documents from the home of the university's first professor, Robert Ginsberg
Image via Bill Tyson, Penn State Brandywine
Penn State Brandywine Chancellor Marilyn J. Wells picked up boxes of academic and historic documents from the home of the university's first professor, Robert Ginsberg

Robert Ginsberg, Penn State Brandywine’s professor emeritus of philosophy and comparative literature, was the very first faculty member hired at the new campus.

Now he’s donating his academic papers and other documents that capture those early years on campus. The material will be housed at Brandywine in partnership with University Libraries.

Ginsberg was hired in 1967 when Penn State opened a new campus in Delaware County.

He was the first of 11 original faculty members who taught 236 students during the campus’ inaugural year.

The campus became a reality after Delaware County Commissioners asked Penn State to open a local campus. The county provided 50 acres and some funding for one initial building.

Classes began Sept. 25, 1967, in a temporary space underneath a roller-skating rink in Chester while the Middletown campus main building was under construction.

Everything moved to the current campus location in 1970. Operations were moved to the current location in December 1970. The campus was first known as Penn State Delaware County but the name was changed to Penn State Brandywine in 2007.

Ginsberg has had 35 years at Brandywine and he saved everything.

 “I didn’t think of them as having value, but I thought that these could be consulted,” he explained. “They might lead me to further discoveries, and I didn’t want to just throw them away, or neglect them.”

He wasn’t sure what would become of the history of the campus when it was founded so he thought he should keep a paper trail.

His material includes syllabi, exams, early faculty senate records, documents covering the first year on campus, correspondence, and details on an annual conference he founded, the Colloquium for Social Philosophy.

Brandywine Chancellor Marilyn J. Wells and Director of Strategic Communications Bill Tyson recently visited Ginsberg at his home in Tacoma Park, Maryland, to receive his papers, which will be housed at Brandywine’s Vairo Library.

“We enjoyed learning more about his distinguished academic career and the early days of Penn State Delaware County, now Brandywine. It was quite apparent that he has a great fondness for and cherished memories of our campus and the many students who had the good fortune to enroll in his classes. We very much appreciate the contribution of his scholarly and historic records, which will be a wonderful addition to our campus archives,” Wells said.

Read more about the donation from Robert Ginsberg to Penn State Brandywine’s archives at psu.edu.

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