Chaikens expand Trustee Scholarship in Liberal Arts

University Park, Pa. — As a member of the Penn State Board of Trustees, Gene Chaiken knows the details about the rising costs of higher education for the University’s nearly 90,000 students. And, as donors of a Trustee Scholarship in the College of the Liberal Arts, he and his wife, Roz, have learned about the life-changing impact of their gift directly from the scholarship students. Both experiences have spurred the Chaikens to give a new $1 million gift to expand their Trustee Scholarship to assist more undergraduates with financial need.

''At the last meeting of the Board of Trustees, I heard a report on how effective the Trustee Matching Scholarship Program is and how many students are being helped,” said Chaiken, a 1962 Penn State graduate in business. “There’s such a need for scholarships today, with the tough economic environment, that Roz and I felt this was the best way we could help, making sure the students have the ability to attend school without racking up a lot debt.”

The Trustee Matching Scholarship Program is designed to make a Penn State education accessible to all qualified students, regardless of their financial means. The University provides an annual match, in perpetuity, of 5 percent of the original gift’s value and combines these funds with income from the endowment to effectively double the financial impact of the scholarship. Implemented in 2002 upon approval by Penn State's Board of Trustees, this unique program assisted approximately 4,600 students University-wide last year. With the additional gift of $1 million, the Chaiken Trustee Scholarship, when fully funded, has the potential to assist approximately 50 students a year, the greatest number of students supported by an individual endowment in the college.

With this gift, the Chaiken Trustee Scholarship’s scope has been broadened to a preference for Liberal Arts students who major or minor in Jewish Studies in addition to students who minor in business. Chaiken noted, ”I believe very strongly that a liberal arts degree as a foundation in our students’ education will enable them to be better human beings and future leaders of our world.”

"Even before this economic downturn, roughly 75 percent of our liberal arts students graduated with outstanding loans, averaging more than $30,000 per student, higher than the University average," said Susan Welch, dean of the College of the Liberal Arts. "We are very grateful that Gene and Roz are providing the means to allow us to expand our efforts to ensure an outstanding education is available to all of our students, regardless of financial need."

Since 1973, Gene Chaiken has served as chairman and CEO of Almo Corp., one of the largest U.S. distributors of consumer electronics, major appliances, high-end kitchen appliances, and industrial wire and cable products. From 2003 to 2005, Chaiken served as the governor’s non-voting representative on the Penn State Board of Trustees; in 2005, he was appointed by Gov. Ed Rendell as a member of the Board of Trustees and continues to serve today, providing the benefits of his business leadership and acumen to the University.

Chaiken was named an Alumni Fellow by the Penn State Alumni Association in 2003 and a Sparks Centennial Medalist in 2009 by the College of the Liberal Arts. He had served previously on the College of the Liberal Arts Development Council. In previous philanthropy to Penn State, Gene and Roz Chaiken made a gift, along with Gene's brother and sister-in-law, Sheldon and Gail Chaiken, that more than doubled the endowment for the faculty chair in Jewish studies, now named the Chaiken family chair in Jewish studies. They also created the Gene and Roz Chaiken endowment for the study of the Holocaust.

Last Updated September 16, 2010