Donor-advised fund allows couple to support entrepreneurship faculty

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- A Penn State alumnus and his wife have leveraged the Pennsylvania State University Charitable Gift Fund (PSUCGF), a donor-advised fund, to enhance an entrepreneurship faculty member’s efforts in the College of Agricultural Sciences. The $200,000 gift from longtime donors and volunteers Earl, ’61, and Kay Harbaugh will create the Harbaugh Entrepreneurship Scholar to support Mark Gagnon, whose work includes entrepreneurship research and student entrepreneurship education.

Gagnon leads the College of Agricultural Sciences’ Entrepreneurship and Innovation Program, which consists of entrepreneurship-focused classes, the Ag Business Springboard undergraduate student competition and the Harbaugh Entrepreneurship Forum, which brings entrepreneurial leaders to campus to interact with and inspire students and faculty. All aspects of the program aim to promote an innovative and entrepreneurial mindset among students studying the food, agriculture and natural resources industries.

“The Harbaughs have a tremendous vision for the power of entrepreneurship and how it creates jobs,” Gagnon said. “Their gift will be instrumental in allowing me to focus full-time on building the educational opportunities we provide our agriculture students so they are prepared to be the next innovative and creative leaders. It will also help me take our efforts to the next level by engaging our faculty and alumni to think entrepreneurially about their work.”

Both Earl and Kay have firsthand appreciation for the importance of entrepreneurship. Both come from entrepreneurial families, and Earl founded four successful companies in the construction equipment industry during his career. Their previous gifts to the college include the Harbaugh Endowment for Entrepreneurship, which launched the Harbaugh Forum, springboard competition, and curricular developments in the Entrepreneurship and Innovation Program.

“Penn State gave me a chance and the experience that exposed me to diverse people and ideas, and that’s what entrepreneurship is all about,” Earl said. “Knowledge and education will lead the future of innovation and job creation. Kay and I feel blessed to be able to fund opportunities for students and faculty to share and create knowledge that will lead to lifelong benefits for themselves and others in society.”

To make their gift, the Harbaughs used the PSUCGF, a donor-advised fund created in 2011 to provide donors with a convenient, flexible and cost-effective way to support Penn State and other causes. Through this gift vehicle, donors can establish a gift fund with Penn State and receive tax benefits when the fund is established. The University then manages the fund and makes distributions to eligible charities upon the donors’ recommendations. At least half of the fund will ultimately be gifted to Penn State to support areas designated by the donor.

“We definitely recommend the Pennsylvania State University Charitable Gift Fund to other donors, particularly those who have a philanthropic interest in Penn State,” Kay said. “The fund is so well-managed, and there’s an added benefit of being able to support other charities you feel passionately about.”

In addition to their entrepreneurship programming support, the Harbaughs have created two scholarships, an international program endowment to fund students studying abroad, and another endowment to assist faculty pioneering innovating teaching methods, all in the College of Agricultural Sciences. They are co-chairs of the College of Agricultural Sciences Development Council for the University’s fundraising effort, For the Future: The Campaign for Penn State Students; members of the Mount Nittany Society; and lifetime members of the Penn State Alumni Association. Earl is the founder and CEO of several Illinois companies, the largest being Ditch Witch Midwest. He and Kay have been married 51 years and have three children and seven grandchildren.

The Harbaughs’ gift to create the Harbaugh Entrepreneurship Scholar will support For the Future: The Campaign for Penn State Students, a University-wide fundraising effort 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 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.

Contacts: 

Mike Degenhart

Executive Director, Office of Gift Planning

Last Updated June 04, 2013