In the mid-1990s, a group of forward-thinking community business leaders recognized the value of integrating STEM education with economic development.  In a region of two million people, of which Harrisburg was the largest city as well as the state capital, there were no four-year institutions that focused primarily on the sciences and technology. The region had a strong community college presence and several highly regarded liberal arts institutions, but none focused on the core subjects that a growing and changing economy required: STEM – science, technology, engineering and math. Moreover, the universities in the region evidenced little interest in offering programs that concentrated on STEM subjects exclusively, which left no alternative other than to create an entirely new university from scratch.

Enter Harrisburg University of Science and Technology, a private institution that provides competencies that encourage the successful navigation of the STEM careers by all students. Harrisburg University opened its doors on August 25th, welcoming its first class of 113 students. Since that time, over 200 alumni have graduated from the University and more than 1,800 undergraduate and graduate students now take classes at HU.

The University will celebrate its 10th Anniversary of educating students throughout 2015 and 2016 . The Anniversary theme is “Ten Years of Brilliance. ”

There will be many of community events throughout the year, including a November 19th, Founder’s Day Reception at Harrisburg University.  For information on the event, email Amy Schreiber at  or call 717.901.5145.

Below we celebrate some of the milestones in our rich history that led to HU’s opening!

University Timeline


Harrisburg is the largest state capital in the country without a four-year university.

Patriot-News calls for creation of a four-year public university to be located in the downtown of City of Harrisburg.

State System of Higher Education Chancellor James H. McCormick investigates expanding the State System of Higher Education to include a new public university in Harrisburg. The idea is rejected.


ENVISION Capital Region, a group of leaders in business and government, forms to focus on economic development issues in the region. ENVISION spotlights the need for a new four-year university in downtown Harrisburg to have a significant positive impact on economic and workforce development.


Mayor Stephen R. Reed announces plans for the creation of the Harrisburg Polytechnic Institute to address the region’s need for educational opportunities in science, technology, engineering and math careers. David Schankweiler becomes chairman of the newly formed Harrisburg Polytechnic Development Corporation (HPDC).

HPDC incorporates in the Commonwealth on December 12th.


Dr. Melvyn Schiavelli becomes president and CEO of Harrisburg Polytechnic Development Corporation on July 1.


Pennsylvania Governor Edward G. Rendell releases $12 million in state capital funding for the construction and related services of the Harrisburg Polytechnic Institute.

More than $18-million is invested into the renovation of the former YWCA building at 215 Market Street, which becomes the first home for the University.

Harrisburg Polytechnic Institute changes its name to Harrisburg University of Science and Technology on October 8th.


University receives its charter from the Pennsylvania Department of Education, January 20th.

Governor Edward G. Rendell presents $15 million in Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program (RACP) funds to the City of Harrisburg for the construction of the first permanent location that will house Harrisburg University of Science and Technology.

University hires its first faculty members, known as The Charter Faculty.

Harrisburg University officially opens its doors on August 25th, welcoming its first class of 113 students.