University Park, Pa. — In a historic move, the Penn State Alumni Association has pledged a gift of $2.1 million to support students across the University.
In support of the University's new fundraising drive, For the Future: The Campaign for Penn State Students, the gift will establish 35 Penn State Alumni Association Trustee Scholarships, each endowed at $50,000 in 12 colleges, at 20 campuses, and three additional undergraduate units. Trustee Scholarships are based on financial need and awarded to students who are Pell Grant eligible, typically coming from families whose household income is below $40,000.
In addition, the gift will include $350,000 to support graduate and professional education — $100,000 each for The Graduate School, the Penn State College of Medicine and the Penn State Dickinson School of Law — as well as $50,000 for Penn State Great Valley School of Graduate and Professional Studies.
"The Alumni Association wanted to step up in a big way to address the concerns of Penn State students — our future alumni — over rising tuition," said David Han, president of the Penn State Alumni Association. "In the land-grant college tradition, we believe this gift will help to keep open the doors of opportunity and ease the financial burden for generations of students to come."
The gift decision was made during the annual spring meeting of Alumni Council, held April 17-18. The recommendation came from the Council's Margin of Excellence Committee, acting on a proposal submitted by the Office of University Development. The recommendation was approved unanimously by the Alumni Council Executive Board, the governing board of the Penn State Alumni Association.
"This is a pace-setting leadership gift for the University’s campaign," said Penn State President Graham B. Spanier. "Although our donors have established more than 450 Trustee Scholarships over the last six years, this pledge to establish 35 new Penn State Alumni Association Trustee Scholarships is the largest single gift thus far for this purpose. The additional pledge to support students in our graduate and professional schools is deeply appreciated as well. This gift continues the Alumni Association's tradition of philanthropy to Penn State, which since 1988 has totaled more than $12.5 million in gifts to the University.”
Proceeds for the gift will come from the Alumni Association's Margin of Excellence Fund, an endowment established in 2000 to support major gifts to the University. The $2.1 million pledge will be paid over seven years, at the rate of about $300,000 per year.
The Trustee Scholarship program was approved by the Penn State Board of Trustees in 2002. It offers a novel approach to providing incentives for securing private gifts to establish new undergraduate scholarships (for which $50,000 is the minimal amount needed). The program matches income from private scholarship endowments with funds from the University's operating budget. Thus, a $50,000 gift for this purpose, which might generate $2,500 per year or 5 percent in spendable income, is matched by an additional 5 percent or $2,500 from the University every year in perpetuity for this same scholarship.
"The added beauty of this gift is that it essentially enables us to double our money — and our impact — on behalf of Penn State students," Han said. "The $1,750,000 we've committed for 35 Trustee Scholarships will provide the same financial support as a gift of $3,500,000."
In addition, the University's match to all 35 Trustee Scholarships will begin immediately, during the 2008-09 academic year. As the Alumni Association transfers its $50,000 into each of the scholarships over the next several years, they will become fully funded.
Barry Simpson, chair of Alumni Council's 2008 Margin of Excellence Committee, noted that, "Penn State alumni the world over recognize the tremendous impact a Penn State education has made on their lives. Through this multi-year gift, we can help hundreds of students make their education more affordable. These talented students of today will become our alumni leaders of the future.
"The added benefit to this gift is that it affects nearly all academic units of the University," Simpson said. "Each of these academic units has its own constituent alumni society that operates as part of the Penn State Alumni Association, so we are especially pleased to be making a gift that will benefit students from all colleges, schools and campuses."
The first $300,000 payment for six Penn State Alumni Association Trustee Scholarships will be made in 2008-09 and will go to:
-- Penn State DuBois: $50,000.
-- Penn State Fayette: $50,000.
-- Penn State Schuylkill: $50,000.
-- Penn State Shenango: $50,000.
-- Division of Undergraduate Studies (DUS): $50,000.
-- The Office of Educational Equity: $50,000.
"These campuses were selected because they have the highest proportion of students who qualify for Trustee Scholarships," said Simpson. "The Office of Educational Equity was chosen because it is charged with supporting educational access for targeted groups of low-income, potential first-generation college students. The Division of Undergraduates Studies (DUS) is the University-wide academic information and advising system. With more than 7,000 students at 20 campuses, DUS is Penn State's largest unit of enrollment for entering baccalaureate students.”
Simpson added that, each year, the Margin of Excellence committee will determine which units will receive the next round of $300,000 gift transfers.
Penn State alumni and friends wishing to establish a Trustee Scholarship in their own name or interested in making a personal contribution to one of the newly established Penn State Alumni Association Trustee Scholarships may contact Dan Genard at firstname.lastname@example.org or (814) 865-7594 or visit http://www.giveto.psu.edu/Trustee.