For Jaffe, volunteer efforts are truly distinguished

Bill Jaffe is a volunteer of all trades -- and a master of every single one.

What makes this 2013 Distinguished Alumni Award-winner unique is that he truly offers something for everyone. While the College of Communications is proud to claim Jaffe, 1960 journalism graduate, as one of its own, it must share him with the rest of the University.

Jaffe is not attached to a singular unit or college or cause -- his attachment is to all of Penn State. He has an affinity that is equal for student-athletes and jazz musicians; for budding broadcast journalists and burgeoning board members; and for alumni and presidents and administrative assistants. He motivates fellow volunteers, energizes staff, prods professors, tactfully directs development efforts and gives generously to scholarship funds and many projects across several University lines.

Luckily, with his boundless enthusiasm, focused energy and tight scheduling, somehow there is always enough of Jaffe to go around.

That’s because most of all, Jaffe is about action -- about getting things done. He is not a joiner; he is a doer. And while he may sit on a of myriad boards on campus and in the community, he never stands still and is never bored. Jaffe is an over-achiever, always in the name of Penn State.

“In my 26 years of higher education administration I’ve never known anyone quite like Bill,” said College of Communications Dean Doug Anderson said. “I’ve known many who have given of their time to an institution; many others who have given of their talents; and many who have given of their treasure. But Bill takes the prize for integrating all three.

“An accomplished professional and unmatched volunteer leader, spanning the decades, he could not be more deserving of being designated a distinguished alumnus of Penn State.”

Jaffe’s impact on Penn State began in 1956, when he arrived on campus as a freshman from Philipsburg, Pa. He became managing editor of the Collegian, president of Sigma Delta Chi and a member of Lion’s Paw and Skull & Bones (and, as is his habit, he later served as an officer of each organization’s alumni group).

His undergraduate years set the stage for a lifetime of contributing to and giving back to his alma mater. After a highly successful career as a vice president with Towers Perrin, Jaffe and his wife Honey -- an Honorary Alumna in her own right -- moved to State College, Pa., in 1995. Jaffe continued to work part-time as a human resources consultant. And he began working full-time as a Penn State volunteer.

“I have a passion for this University and the community,” he said. “It was a natural to get involved. I like to keep active, do a good job and hopefully make an impact on where I live and where I went to school. My Penn State experience formed me into who I am. My journalism degree taught me skills I have used my entire life -- the ability to communicate verbally and in writing, to lead, to think critically.”

To the betterment of the College of Communications, he has shared all those skills -- and more. Jaffe is a past president of the Alumni Society Board, past chair of the Dollars for Scholars Golf Tournament, a generous benefactor of many scholarships and a key founder of the college’s mentoring program. He developed the alumni board’s first strategic plan, has assisted with internships, has lectured in classrooms and has mentored countless students and younger alumni.

“Bill’s devotion to all things College of Communications is remarkable,” said Director of Development Kevin Musick. “What really makes his contributions unparalleled is that I know and see first-hand what Bill also does University-wide. I marvel at all he gets done.”

Jaffe is chair of The President’s Club, an integral part of Penn State’s overall Annual Giving Campaign. His resume also includes stints, both present and past, as a board and/or committee member of: the Renaissance Scholarship Fund, For the Future Campaign and the Alumni Association Alumni Council.

Athletics and the arts also are special areas of interest for Bill and Honey. He is co-chair of the All-Sports Museum Advisory Board, has endowed a life skills course for student-athletes, served on the Nittany Lion Club Advisory Board and been part of several search committees. The Jaffes also donate their time and resources to the Center for Performing Arts, the Palmer Museum and Penn State Hillel. Bill is a past president of Penn State Centre Stage.

That’s just gown. There’s also town, where he has made an equally important impact.

For example, Jaffe has held leadership and board roles with the Chamber of Business and Industry of Centre County, Centre Foundation, United Way and the Mount Nittany Conservancy.

Last Updated July 16, 2013