Former executive director of Penn State’s Nittany Lion Club Kay Kustanbauter has been named Penn State’s 2013 Renaissance Fund honoree. She will be recognized in November at the 37th annual Renaissance Fund dinner, according to George Henning Jr., president of the fund’s board of directors.
Each year, the Renaissance Fund honors an individual or couple who, through a lifetime of service, has contributed greatly to the Penn State and State College communities. In its selection process, the fund’s board of directors seeks to recognize individuals who have deep roots in the Centre Region, close relationships with civic and University leaders, and a commitment to philanthropy.
"Kay is an excellent example of the ideal Renaissance Person of the Year,” said Henning. “Her commitment to the University and support for community programs is outstanding, and her love for Penn State and Centre County is exceptional."
This year’s recognition dinner will be held Thursday, Nov. 14, at the Nittany Lion Inn on the University Park campus. A reception will be held at 6 p.m. followed by dinner and the program at 7 p.m.
The Renaissance Fund is a highly visible example of Penn State’s efforts to ensure student opportunity through scholarship support funded by private philanthropy—the chief objective of the current $2 billion University-wide fundraising initiative, For the Future: The Campaign for Penn State Students. The annual dinner raises money in the honorees’ names. Those contributions are used to endow Renaissance Fund scholarships, which are awarded to academically talented Penn State students who have great financial need. Since the fund’s inception in 1969, the Renaissance Fund endowment has grown to more than $10 million. During the 2012-13 academic year, 480 students received Renaissance scholarships totaling $690,632.
Kustanbauter was born in Bellefonte, Pa., and began her more than 40-year career with the University in 1965 as a 17-year-old secretary in Penn State’s Department of Dairy Science. In 1971, Kay joined the Penn State Athletics staff working as a secretary for then assistant athletics director Jim Tarman. The following year, when the office expanded to include management of the Nittany Lion Club, the future course for Kustanbauter’s career was set.
At the front desk of the newly staffed sports information and athletic public relations operation, Kustanbauter’s congenial approach to her work became a valuable skill. She spent nine years as a secretary for the Nittany Lion Club, developing experience in athletic fundraising and building strong relationships with University alumni and friends. In 1980, she was named coordinator of the Nittany Lion Club and athletic public relations. In 1989, Kustanbauter became the Nittany Lion Club’s executive director, a position she maintained for 16 years before retiring in 2005.
Under Kustanbauter's tenure with the Nittany Lion Club, the organization saw their annual donor base grow from 800 members to the more than 20,000 now giving over $22 million annually. For more than 30 years, Kustanbauter also has supported the University through her personal philanthropy, contributing to numerous scholarships and building projects in addition to supporting University Libraries, the College of Arts and Architecture, and of course, Athletics. She has been a member of the Nittany Lion Club since the 1970’s and her support is recognized with membership in the President’s Club, Atherton Society, and Mount Nittany Society.
Connected to the greater community of the region, Kustanbauter serves on the boards of the Youth Service Bureau, Centre Foundation, Penn State Centre Stage, and the Penn State All-Sports Museum. She is presently an active member of the Penn State Intercollegiate Athletics committee in For the Future: The Campaign for Penn State Students.
Having devoted her life to supporting the Penn State and Central Pennsylvania communities, Kustanbauter is deeply honored by the Renaissance Fund recognition. “It is my true love for the University and my hometown community that I hope has made me worthy of this honor,” she says. Reflecting on why she chose to commit her life’s work to Penn State, the answer is easy. “I love being a part of something special,” she said. “And this University is very special.”
For Renaissance Fund dinner information or to make a contribution, contact Kathy Kurtz in the Office of Annual Giving at 814-863-2052 or email@example.com.