Alumni surpass challenge goal, commit almost $2 million in new support

University Park, PA—More than 5,200 Penn State graduates have responded to a challenge from the estate of alumnus John Bill Freeman, 1963 Penn State graduate, to support their alma mater. Beginning in March, “Start It Now: The Million-Dollar Challenge” offered a dollar-for-dollar match to gifts for any purpose from alumni who had not given in 2012-13, with the Freeman matching funds going to a scholarship endowment for students with financial need. The initiative ended on June 30, surpassing its goal and raising $1.97 million in new gifts.

“Mr. Freeman’s belief in the value of his own Penn State education inspired his generous bequest, and now his legacy has inspired thousands of his fellow alumni to give as well,” said Rodney P. Kirsch, senior vice president for development and alumni relations. “The support raised through the ‘Start It Now’ challenge will help new generations to have the same transformative experience here at Penn State.”

To secure the match, a gift must have been the first commitment from a donor in the fiscal year that began on July 1, 2012, and it had to be received between March 1 and June 30, 2013. Alumni were able to target their support to any college, campus or program at the University. More information about the challenge is available at

John Bill Freeman was a native of Tyler, Texas, who earned his degree in computer science from Penn State in 1963. He went on to become one of the world’s top competitive chess players and a leading theorist of outer space applications for computer science. His career included posts at McDonald Douglas and Honeywell International, and he was involved in the Mars Rover mission. He died in 2011.

“Penn State has some of the most loyal and generous alumni in the world,” said Ann Lehman, director of annual giving. “I hope that donors to ‘Start It Now’ and all of our supporters know how much their gifts matter to the University and to our students.”

Gifts to “Start It Now: The Million-Dollar Challenge” will help Penn State 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.

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Last Updated July 02, 2013