Newnham creates three trustee scholarships

Randall Newnham and his wife have created three Trustee Scholarships for Penn State Berks students, two of which honor the professor’s parents who were dedicated Penn Staters. With a gift of $150,000, Newnham and his wife, Janet Graden, have created the Robert E. Newnham Memorial Trustee Scholarship, the Patricia F. Newnham Memorial Trustee Scholarship and the Randall E. Newnham Trustee Scholarship to benefit Penn State Berks students with financial need.

The Trustee Matching Scholarship Program maximizes the impact of private giving while directing funds to students as quickly as possible, meeting the urgent need for scholarship support. In this groundbreaking philanthropic model, Penn State matches 10 percent of the total pledge or gift at the time a Trustee Scholarship is created, making funds available immediately for student awards. This University match, which is approximately double the endowment’s annual spendable income, continues in perpetuity, tripling the support available for students with financial need.

“I see firsthand the number of students who struggle to pay for their education,” Newnham said. “Their academic performance suffers when they are exhausted from working long hours or choosing not to buy textbooks to save money. As faculty members, we are in a fortunate position to help students not only learn in the classroom but also afford their educational dreams. The Trustee Matching Scholarship Program was an added bonus to extend the impact of our gift.”

“Dr. Newnham has set a powerful example of dedication to Penn State students for our faculty and staff,” said Penn State Berks Chancellor R. Keith Hillkirk. “He has already given so much to Penn State Berks through his decades of service as a mentor to our students. Now, his philanthropy shows what it means to be more than a quality teacher; he’s also committed to our students’ futures beyond Penn State.”

Higher education has played an important role in the lives of Newnham and his parents. The first in his family to go to college, Newnham’s father, Robert E. Newnham, earned his doctorate from Penn State and worked for many years in Penn State’s Department of Materials Science, where he received many awards for his work, including the 2004 Benjamin Franklin Medal in Electrical Engineering. Newnham’s mother, Patricia F. Newnham, was also the first in her family to go to college and earned her bachelor of science in nursing despite her family’s tough economic situation. She persevered at a time when women were not encouraged to seek higher education. Her long career in nursing included being an instructor at Massachusetts General Hospital School of Nursing in the early 1960s, then considered one of the best programs in the country. Robert and Patricia created the Robert Newnham Award for the best research students in materials science at University Park. Newnham hopes to continue his parents’ legacy by creating scholarships in their name.

“Education transformed my parents’ lives and my own life, and I want to ensure students today have the same experience,” he said. “I look at 60 students in my class each semester, and I wonder, ‘What are their hopes and dreams?’ I want to help them succeed outside my classroom, too. I’m really looking forward to meeting and communicating with our scholarship recipients and hearing their plans for their futures.”

Randall Newnham earned a bachelor of arts degree in foreign service and international relations from the Penn State University Scholars Program in 1988 before earning his master’s and doctoral degrees in political science from University of California-Los Angeles. A State College, Pa., native, he returned to the Penn State system right after graduation in 1995 and has spent his career on the faculty at Penn State Berks as a professor of political science. His current research focuses on the role of economic aid and sanctions as foreign policy tools. Janet Graden is an assistant professor in chemistry at Montgomery County Community College, where the couple has also created a scholarship in nursing.

Their gift will help Penn State Berks reach its goals in 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.

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Last Updated June 27, 2013