Alcoa honored as campus' inaugural 'Corporate Partner of the Year'

In recognition of a partnership that has lasted more than 50 years, Alcoa was named the inaugural recipient of Penn State New Kensington's "Corporate Partner of the Year" award July 9 during the Penn State Board of Trustees' visit to the campus for its annual summer meeting.

Penn State President Graham Spanier presented the award to Alcoa for its support of the University and the campus during the past five decades. The inscription on the plaque denotes Alcoa's "leadership, support, and assistance in the advancement, growth, and development of Penn State New Kensington and the surrounding communities."

“Alcoa has played a pivotal role in many important initiatives at Penn State New Kensington,” said Spanier. “In recognition of our long and productive relationship, I’m delighted that Alcoa was selected to be the recipient of the inaugural Corporate Partner of the Year Award.”

Jimmy Williams Jr., director of research and development of the defense sector, accepted the award on behalf of the company. Williams' ties to the campus include delivering the commencement address to spring graduates in May.

"For the last 50 years, Alcoa and Penn State New Kensington have partnered together in an effort to make our great community even stronger," said Williams. "We have worked under the principle that together we can accomplish so much more for our region than any of us can individually. I am honored to accept this award on behalf of Alcoa, and we thank the Board of Trustees of Penn State for the opportunity to partner with a institution for higher education right within our own community."

Established by Kevin Snider, chancellor of the New Kensington campus, the award recognizes companies that have a history of outstanding commitment to Penn State and the community. The commitment includes various avenues of support: student internships and scholarships; faculty research and fellowships; facility upgrades; and campus activities that engage the community.

"Alcoa is more than a corporate partner. Alcoa is our neighbor, and the people there believe in working together for success of the community," said Snider. "Alcoa was responsible for providing a home for the campus and has a long history of working with us and others to make our homes and communities great places to live, work and learn. I can think of no greater a company to be our inaugural corporate partner of the year."

Alcoa and Penn State New Kensington have a long history of collaboration. In 1963, the company donated land to Penn State, and three years later, the present Upper Burrell campus opened on the 35 acre parcel. Since then, Alcoa and Penn State have worked together on numerous initiatives, such as scholarships, the virtual nature trail, "green chemistry," and service projects that have benefited the campus and the community.

A few of the collaborations include:

--The Technical Employees of Alcoa Metallurgical Award Fund scholarship was established in 1979 by a gift from Allen S. Russell, then vice president of science and technology at the Alcoa Technical Center. Russell donated an award he received when named Scientist of the Year by Industrial Research/Development magazine.

-- In 1999, Alcoa invested in the refurbishing of the campus nature trail and the creation of a "virtual nature trail" Web site, which is dedicated to improving the quality of environmental education within local school districts and the campus community.

-- Last year, Alcoa invested in the Green Chemistry and Alternative Energy Resources Initiatives program that provides Penn State students with an understanding of the balance between the many facets of sustainability and new energy resources.

-- In January, in honor of Martin Luther King Jr., more than 25 faculty and staff from the campus and employees from the Alcoa Technical Center worked on rehabbing houses in Arnold and Natrona Heights.

Gifts from Alcoa to the campus have continued throughout the years. In addition to the original 35 acres, Alcoa donated the arch that stands atop the hill that overlooks the main entrance to the campus. Designed by Henry Noestheden, the aluminum arch has been a campus landmark since 1976. To commemorate the campus’ 30th anniversary in 1988, Alcoa produced a commemorative aluminum tray with the inscription, "Penn State University-New Kensington & Alcoa: Partners in progress for three decades."

In conjunction with the trustees' visit and the award ceremony, artifacts from the Alcoa Collection at the Senator John Heinz History Center are on display in the Penn State New Kensington Art Gallery through July 20. The full collection traces some of the different uses for aluminum. Alcoa promoted sales by experimenting with various aluminum products, including an original dress designed by Oscar de la Renta. Other disparate artifacts such a violin, playing cards and a set of combs are a part of the campus exhibit.

For more the exhibit, visit http://www.nk.psu.edu/42550.htm#NEWS42550 online.

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Last Updated July 16, 2009