Joseph Culp’s $100,000 gift to fund scholarships at Penn State New Kensington

Penn State alumnus Joseph C. Culp recently made a gift of $100,000 to Penn State New Kensington to fund scholarships for talented students in a variety of disciplines. The initial recipients of Culp’s generosity are students in the Electro-Mechanical Engineering Technology (EMET) and the Chemistry programs.

“Penn State continues to play a leading role in exploring petroleum and natural gas engineering,” said Kevin Snider, chancellor of the New Kensington campus. “Our campus is situated squarely in the heart of the Marcellus Shale formation. We are at the forefront in educating the students who will fuel the future of our nation.”

EMET is one of the campus' eight bachelor's degree programs. Students in the four-year program acquire the knowledge needed in all fields of engineering technology related to highly-automated manufacturing, production, or assembly plant processes. Chemistry students can get an early start on internships and research opportunities during their first two years at the campus before moving on to University Park to complete their degree work. Culp’s scholarship gift will support the campus’ ongoing investment in an energy production curriculum and student-faculty research to prepare students to address issues faced in the western Pennsylvania economy.

To support the energy component, the campus will be investing in a new curriculum that acknowledges the issues in energy production in western Pennsylvania. The next generation of engineers will be the innovators in electro-mechanical technologies in the energy industry.

Sophomore Mike Cavazza, a petroleum and natural gas engineering major, spent his freshman year in the chemistry lab researching alternatives to petroleum-based polyesters using soybean oil. He worked with Robert Mathers, associate professor of chemistry, analyzing the kinetics of a soybean-based polymer that could be an alternative to petroleum-based polyesters.

“In doing this research, my ability to troubleshoot and find different ways to solve problems will help me in the future when I run into these situations,” said Cavazza, a graduate of Marion Center High School.

A graduate of the Petroleum and Natural Gas Engineering program, Culp spent his career in the energy sector. He is a retired regulatory compliance manager for Chevron Corp. The Baton Rouge, La., resident has a long history of philanthropic activity at Penn State. He has also made gifts to the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences to support the growth of Penn State’s petroleum and natural gas engineering programs.

"Mr. Culp’s gift is a huge benefit to the students in our region struggling to complete their education -- and we are grateful for his generosity," said Donna Speer, director of development at the New Kensington campus. "The scholarships will help many students who otherwise might not have the chance to go to Penn State and achieve their dreams and life goals."

Culp’s gift 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.

Penn State New Kensington aims to raise $3 million during the For the Future campaign. As of Aug. 1, the campus has received 2,880 gifts and pledges totaling $2.62 million since the campaign began in July 2007. New Kensington has reached 85 percent of its goal with 87 percent of the campaign underway.

The campus awarded $376,000 in scholarships to incoming freshmen for the 2013 fall semester. More than 160 first-year students received an average of $2,300 per award, and 66 students earned multiple awards.

For more on For the Future campaign at Penn State New Kensington, visit

Media Contacts: 

Bill Woodard

Work Phone: 
Home Phone: 
Cell Phone: 

Alumni and Public Relations Specialist

Last Updated July 31, 2013