Chaikens make $2 million gift for new Trustee Scholarship

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Gene and Roz Chaiken have made the dreams of a Penn State education come true for more than 150 Liberal Arts students through a Trustee Scholarship they created five years ago. But with the growing financial challenges facing students and their families, the Chaikens are determined to help even more Penn State students by establishing one of the first Trustee Scholarships to earn a 10 percent annual match from the University with a gift of $2 million.
                                                    
Since 2002, the Trustee Matching Scholarship Program has offered donors a 5 percent permanent annual match of their gift, roughly equivalent to an endowment’s spendable income, to be awarded as scholarships. A total of $100 million has already been raised through the program. Beginning March 1, 2013, and continuing through the end of For the Future: The Campaign for Penn State Students on June 30, 2014, or until matching funds are exhausted, the Trustee Matching Scholarship Program is offering a 10 percent annual match for new endowed gifts of $50,000 or more. Through increased matching funds, the Chaikens will assist many more hardworking students with significant financial need each year.

"With our Trustee Scholarships, Roz and I want to encourage students to stay in school and strive to be future leaders in their professions and their communities."

— Gene Chaiken

“In our meetings with students and through their wonderful thank-you letters, we hear so many stories about families struggling with job layoffs, medical bills or other economic challenges,” said Gene Chaiken, a 1962 business administration graduate in The Smeal College of Business. “These students have excelled in the classroom and volunteered in their communities, but many need to work part-time and carry major loans in order to attend Penn State.”

“With our Trustee Scholarships,” he added, “Roz and I want to encourage students to stay in school and strive to be future leaders in their professions and their communities.”

In recent years, about 75 percent of the college’s students needed scholarships and loans to attend Penn State. Liberal Arts graduates with loans owe an average of $36,000, which is higher than the national average. Among the current students who have received Chaiken Trustee Scholarships are a sociology major whose family was devastated emotionally and financially by her 41-year-old father’s death from cancer and a political science and philosophy major who bounced back from personal and financial difficulties to pursue a future career in law or international relations. 

“Gene and Roz have led our college’s campaign through their dedicated leadership and exceptional generosity,” said Susan Welch, Dean of the College of the Liberal Arts. “Their philanthropy has continued to transform the lives of our students and faculty across the College. This new commitment, combined with their existing scholarships and when fully funded, will offer more than 100 students a $5,000 annual scholarship.

“The Chaiken scholarship gifts are among the University’s largest in terms of dollar amount and number of student recipients,” Welch added.

"The Chaiken scholarship gifts are among the University’s largest in terms of dollar amount and number of student recipients."

— Susan Welch

Gene Chaiken is Chairman and CEO and Roz Chaiken is Executive Vice President of Almo Corporation, the largest U.S. distributor of consumer and commercial electronics, and major appliances. They have been active volunteers and lead donors to the College of the Liberal Arts and Penn State for many years. They are members of the Laurel Circle of the Mount Nittany Society and Liberal Arts Leaders.  

Gene Chaiken served on the Penn State Board of Trustees from 2005 to 2010 and currently is a member of the University’s Leadership Gifts Committee and an emeritus member of the Liberal Arts Development Council. The University honored him with an Alumni Fellow award in 2004 and will bestow the Distinguished Alumnus Award on him this spring.

The College of the Liberal Arts awarded the Sparks Centennial Medal to Gene for outstanding service in 2009. Recently, the College created the Chaiken Leadership Award, in honor of Gene and Roz, to recognize an alumnus, friend or couple who has demonstrated outstanding generosity and philanthropic leadership over the past year. 

This past weekend, Gene and Roz received the first Chaiken Leadership Award for their important contributions to the Liberal Arts Development Council, Trustee Scholarships, graduate education, Jewish Studies and other alumni relations initiatives.

This past weekend, Gene and Roz received the first Chaiken Leadership Award for their important contributions to the Liberal Arts Development Council, Trustee Scholarships, graduate education, Jewish Studies and other alumni relations initiatives.

The Chaikens are longtime supporters of the Jewish Studies Program. One of their gifts created the Gene and Roz Chaiken Endowment for the Study of Holocaust. With Gene’s brother Sheldon and sister-in-law Gail, the couple endowed the Chaiken Family Chair in Jewish Studies and collaborated with alumni Arnold and Bette Hoffman to create a director’s fund to support faculty and students in Jewish Studies in honor of the late program director Brian Hesse. Gene and Roz also established the Chaiken Centennial Endowment in Honor of Dean Susan Welch to recruit and retain the best graduate students in the liberal arts.

The Chaikens’ new gift to Trustee Scholarships will help the College of the Liberal Arts to achieve the goals of For the Future: The Campaign for Penn State Students. This University-wide effort is directed toward a shared vision of Penn State as the most comprehensive, student-centered research university in America. The University is engaging Penn State’s alumni and friends as partners in achieving six key objectives: ensuring student access and opportunity, enhancing honors education, enriching the student experience, building faculty strength and capacity, fostering discovery and creativity, and sustaining the University’s tradition of quality. The campaign’s top priority is keeping a Penn State degree affordable for students and families. The For the Future campaign is the most ambitious effort of its kind in Penn State’s history, with the goal of securing $2 billion by 2014.

Last Updated May 14, 2013