Penn State University President Eric A. Walker agreed to a request from the Delaware County commissioners to establish a campus of the University in Delaware County in 1966. The county provided 90 acres of land in Middletown Township, about four miles west of Media, the county seat, and gave $1.2 million toward construction of the first building at the campus site. John D. Vairo, an associate professor of journalism at the University, was appointed Campus Director, effective January 1, 1967, and the campus opened in a rented building in Chester in September of that year, admitting 236 students. They were taught by a full-time faculty of 11, and were served by a campus library consisting of about 500 books.
The campus draws most of its students from Delaware and Chester counties, parts of Montgomery County, and the city of Philadelphia - an area that includes every type of neighborhood represented in the eastern United States. Since its opening, more than 100,000 students have earned a degree or have started their studies in higher education at the campus.
The campus operated in Chester until December, 1970, when it moved into the newly completed Main Building in Middletown Township. A library/learning center was completed in 1979, and a commons/athletic center was opened in 1988. The campus' fourth building, a technology-based classroom building, opened in 1998. It contains state-of-the-art computer and technology classrooms, additional classrooms, seminar rooms, and faculty offices. Other campus facilities include a maintenance building, the Ethel Sergeant Clark Smith Memorial Tennis Center, athletic fields, and parking for approximately 1,000 vehicles.