College Towns

Conversations from Penn State on the death and life of American college towns. Hosted by Tom Shakely, Chris Buchignani, and Kevin Horne in Central Pennsylvania’s Happy Valley, the show brings together a rotating cast to talk through how to conserve or create better communities through culture.


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Why ‘College Towns’?

College towns enchant the American landscape, and they’re worth talking about. What makes them so special? How do they develop or decay? Who decides to be a part of them? This is a way to have fun while talking about a way of life that we love.


College towns enchant the American landscape. They exist where strong towns support humane culture and deep relationships that produce a rich community life. We believe that the best way to cultivate that community life is by talking about its essential qualities and listening to what others are experiencing, in the spirit of the old bull sessions.


“It is amazing that neither history, nor sociology, nor fiction, has given more than passing attention to the American college town, for surely it has had a character and personality unlike other towns.” —Henry Seidel Canby

“In losing ‘place’ … [we] risk losing the basis for healthy and resilient individual identity, and risk forfeiting the needed preconditions for the cultivation of public virtues. For one cannot be a citizen without being a citizen of some place in particular…” —Why Place Matters



College Towns is hosted by Chris Buchignani, Tom Shakely, and Kevin Horne. The show also features occasional panelists, interviews, and callers.

Chris Buchignani is president of the Nittany Valley Society, a nonprofit cultural conservancy. He’s a marketing consultant who settled in Happy Valley to build a life and is a husband and father.

Tom Shakely is author of Conserving Mount Nittany: A Dynamic Environmentalism. He’s an eighth-generation Pennsylvanian from Bucks County with a love for college towns in all their variety.

Kevin Horne is a Penn State Law student and Onward State’s emeritus managing editor. He’s visited 134 college campuses and since 2004 has attended every Penn State football home game.




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