Raise the Song: The History of Penn State (DVD Review)7 Sep, 2008 By: Pete Croatto
Produced by Penn State University's television station, Raise the Song: The History of Penn State offers a quick but thorough history of the university.
When Penn State was chartered as an agricultural school in 1855, higher education was usually pursued by rich Christian men. However, with America becoming more agricultural and industrial, there was a need for a more educated workforce.
Thanks to the work of several individuals (Penn State's first president, Evan Pugh; Vermont congressman Justin Smith Morrill), the college found its footing as a "people's college," eventually becoming a top-flight engineering school and offering correspondence courses to farmers. Through the years, Penn State also developed a liberal arts program, officially became a university, and adapted to social and educational changes.
Oh, and it developed a really good football team.
Raise the Song's most interesting aspect is in profiling Penn State's early days, which in turn mirrors the social and economic history of a young America. That should appeal to casual history buffs, as will the neat trivia revealed through the numerous interviews with alumni, professors, and university officials.
As Penn State grows older, the film examines the school's relatively recent accomplishments — such as its medical center and its library.
If viewers can forgive the film's recruitment-tool undertones, Raise the Song is an insightful look at an educational institution's humble beginnings and its rise to prominence.