Gift pushes Johnson Trust support of Page Center to $1 million

University Park, Pa. — The Robert Wood Johnson 1962 Charitable Trust has become the single largest sponsor of the Arthur W. Page Center for Integrity in Public Communication, a research center in the College of Communications dedicated to the study and advancement of ethics and responsibility in corporate communication.

With a recent $300,000 gift, the Johnson Trust reached $1 million in total support for the Page Center since it was founded in 2004.

The Trust is a philanthropy established by Robert Wood Johnson, who built Johnson & Johnson from a small family business into the world’s largest health and medical care product company and one renowned for its high standards of social responsibility. Johnson also wrote the Johnson & Johnson Credo, a statement of corporate responsibility that is widely considered an exemplar for American business.

Total contributions to the Page Center now top $3 million. About $2.5 million of the total has been placed in a permanent endowment, the proceeds of which will support in perpetuity the Center’s programs.

“The Johnson 1962 Trust was one of the earliest sponsors of the Center. The amount and consistency of its support have been absolutely critical in launching our new center and advancing its work in ethical communication and corporate responsibility,” said John S. Nichols, Center director. “We simply could not have reached our current level of programming without the Trust’s extremely generous sponsorship.”

The Johnson Trust has been a primary source of funding for the Page and Johnson Legacy Scholar competition through which the Center annually awards up to $75,000 in grants to support scholars and professionals making important contributions to knowledge, practice, or public understanding of ethics and responsibility in public communication. 

Among the recent Legacy Scholar grants are several awarded to researchers studying how company credos and codes of ethics affect corporate behavior—a topic central to Robert Wood Johnson’s management philosophy.

In recognition of the Trust’s contributions, a newly renovated 500-square-foot seminar room in historic Carnegie Building was named in honor of Johnson. The room — used both for Page Center programs and College classes — features a large display of the Johnson & Johnson Credo, a portrait of Johnson, and a description of who Johnson was and why the Credo is important. 

The Page Center is named for the longtime vice president for public relations at AT&T who, like Johnson, became widely known for management according to principles for ethical communication and responsible corporate behavior. 

The Center was founded through a leadership gift from Lawrence G. Foster, a distinguished Penn State alumnus and retired corporate vice president for public relations at Johnson & Johnson. Foster’s management of Johnson & Johnson’s response to the Tylenol poisoning in 1982 — widely acclaimed as a model of corporate responsibility — along with numerous other contributions to the public relations profession earned him many honors, including the Gold Anvil from the Public Relations Society of America for lifetime achievement.

“We believe that young people entering the field of communications can be inspired by examples of ethical responsibility such as the credo written by Johnson,” said Foster, who knew Johnson and is the author of his biography, “Robert Wood Johnson: The Gentleman Rebel.” “I believe he would be very pleased with our goals and our program.”

Foster, whose own $300,000 gift launched the Center, describes it as “a lighthouse for those students and practitioners interested in demonstrating and articulating the highest standards of communication and ethical behavior in business as well as other institutions.”

The Page Center and the Arthur W. Page Society, a professional organization of 350 senior level public relations executives, function as separate entities. The Center’s Advisory Board is comprised of leading public relations practitioners.

Among the Center’s new programs is the nation’s largest collection of video interviews on their careers with over 40 leaders in public relations, spanning the past 50 years, and available to all on the Center’s Web site at http://pagecenter.comm.psu.edu/ online. For further information on the Center and the Page Legacy Scholar Grants, visit the Web site or call Cinda Kostyak, the Center's associate director, at (814) 863-6307.  

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Last Updated March 19, 2009