History of Central Penn College

The History of Central Penn College

1881 – Present


Central Penn College traces its history to 1881 and the Pennsylvania Business College at 307 Market Street in Harrisburg, Pa. For the next 89 years, a continuous series of career-oriented business colleges existed on Market Street in the heart of the business district of Harrisburg. Their main focus was always clear—to provide a career-focused education. 


In 1922, Professor William H. Hartsock was relieved from his position as head of the accountancy department at the Harrisburg Business College/School of Commerce located at 15 S. Market Square. Numerous faculty and anywhere from 150 to 250 Harrisburg Business College students followed Professor Hartsock, who, on October 30 that same year, opened the doors to Central Pennsylvania Business College, less than three blocks away. By 1923, all predecessor institutions (Pennsylvania Business College, Harrisburg Business College/School of Commerce) were non-existent. Only Hartsock’s Central Pennsylvania Business College survived.


In 1970, Central Pennsylvania Business School moved across the Susquehanna River to Summerdale, Pa. Bart and Jean Milano began the creation of the school’s current suburban Summerdale campus, featuring all new structures that included academic buildings, apartment-style housing and recreation facilities. The transition from business school to college began in 1977 when the Commission on Higher Education of the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools accredited Central Penn. In 1999, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania recognized Central Penn as a two-year college with degree-granting privileges. In December 2000, Pennsylvania’s Secretary of Education approved Central Penn College to operate as a four-year degree-granting college. 


In 2002, the college doubled the size of its academic buildings with the opening of the Advanced Technology Education Center, which also houses a conference center and restaurant. Later that year, Henszey’s Bridge, an 1869 wrought-iron structure listed in the National Historic Register, was restored and placed in the center of the campus. It serves both practical and symbolic purposes. The Charles “T” Jones Leadership Library opened its doors in October 2002. In addition to serving Central Penn’s academic needs, it houses a collection of personal development and leadership materials from many of the country’s top motivational speakers and authors. Constructed in the spring of 2003, the Craiger C. Parker Amphitheatre showcases the college’s core values and provides a scenic setting where outdoor classes and other activities can be held.


In 2004, Central Penn College began offering online as well as blended courses, and opened its first additional location—Central Penn Lancaster. Located just off Route 30 near the heart of downtown Lancaster, Central Penn Lancaster currently serves adult students enrolled in associate and certificate programs in a variety of majors.


In 2005, Central Penn was granted permission from the Middle States Commission and the Pennsylvania Department of Education to begin offering two fully-online bachelor’s degree programs. 


In 2006, the College completed a $1 million learning facility at its main campus–featuring a crime lab, a physical therapist assistant lab and a medical assisting lab.


In October 2007, the new Student Fellowship Area opened when 1 1/2 acres were transformed into a beautiful outdoor setting with a large amphitheater, a stage/performance area, a picnic area, and a plaza, all connected by macadam-stamped pathways. Professionally designed landscaping, lighting, fencing, and a wrought iron archway add to this attractive campus addition. Also this year, the Central Penn College Education Foundation, which exists to help worthy students afford college, completed its $1 million campaign for scholarships.


In May 2009, Central Penn College opened an additional location in the Lehigh Valley to serve as a bachelor’s degree completion center for adult students. Central Penn Lehigh Valley was located in the Lehigh Valley Corporate Center in Bethlehem. The location was closed in winter of 2015.


In March 2010, the Central Penn College Education Foundation announced its endowment passed the $2 million mark. At the end of 2016, the foundation’s scholarship endowment was valued at more than $6 million. Since 2002, more than 1300 Central Penn students have received scholarships through the foundation. 


In June 2013, the College was granted approval to begin offering the Master of Professional Studies (MPS) degree program, further enhancing the College’s commitment to career-focused education.


In 2014, Central Penn College celebrated the grand opening of The Underground, a new student union space. The Underground features a dance studio, fitness center, writing center, student lounge, offices, and the Capital BlueCross Theatre.

In the spring of 2014, Dr. Karen M. Scolforo took the inaugural international recruitment trip, kicking off a global initiative that has grown immensely.

In 2016, the college received 261 applications from 62 different countries, exemplifying our commitment to growth, multiculturalism and the value of a holistic education.

In 2014, Central Penn College’s Lancaster Center unveiled a new Physical Therapist Assistant (PTA) lab and classroom. The new lab offered the typical equipment found in a PTA lab, such as electric muscle stimulation, ultrasound, paraffin baths, a traction table and ambulation devices, as well as a Hoyer Lift ® —a patient lift unit that most students do not have the opportunity to work with until they are actually working in a clinic.

That summer, Central Penn College welcomed its first group of PTA students at the Lancaster Center. The competitive program limits enrollment at just 30 qualified students a year during the winter term. The first cohort of students at the Lancaster PTA program graduated in May 2016.


In 2015, three new bachelor’s degree programs were added to the School of Health Sciences, expanding Central Penn’s already impressive staple of offerings. Among the new programs are Bachelor’s Degrees in Health Science and Healthcare Management, and a Bachelor of Science degree completion program in Nursing (RN to BSN).

In fall of 2015, the first classes were held in the newly renovated Donald B. and Dorothy L. Stabler Health Sciences building. Renovations for the Stabler Health Sciences Building began in the summer of 2014, and included two new state-of-the-industry laboratories, a computer lab, office space and an additional lab.

The labs are designed for upper level chemist and microbiology, equipped with gas lines, chemical containment equipment, microscopes and stereoscopes.


In the late summer of 2015, renovations began on the former townhouses along College Hill Road. The 33 completely renovated Super Suites were completed in July of 2016, and now house incoming freshmen. Each Super Suite consists of seven single rooms and a large common area, allowing students the privacy they need, while still enjoying communal living. In addition, security and safety measures have been upgraded, including keycard access and built-in fire ladders on the second floor.

This project opened up a whole new world of programming opportunities within the Residence Life Department. The new Super Suites allow students to enhance their college experience through student-directed, themed living/learning communities. Students now have the opportunity to gain leadership experience through the resident assistant program.


Linda Fedrizzi-Williams, Ed. D., became Central Penn College’s 10th president in June 2018. Prior to her appointment, she served as interim co-president for nine months and vice president for academic affairs and provost since July 2016.

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