Couple makes $3 million gift to three Penn State units

Penn State alumnus Jeffery L. King and his wife, Cynthia, have made a $3 million gift that will benefit three academic units at Penn State. This gift will create new professorships in the Smeal College of Business and endowments to support programs in the University Libraries and the College of Education.

“This is a truly remarkable gift that will have an enormous and far-reaching impact on the quality of our programs,” said Penn State President Rodney A. Erickson. “Jeff and Cindy have been extremely generous to the University, and we are very fortunate to have them as part of the Penn State family.”

“My Penn State education, both scholastic and social, has been invaluable in the successes I have achieved over my lifetime,” said Jeffery King, who earned a bachelor’s degree in business from Penn State in 1967 and is co-founder of National Properties, Inc., a real-estate investment, property management and development business based in the Great Valley Corporate Park area of Malvern, Pa. “These benefits have extended to other family members privileged to have completed a Penn State degree.”

“My family and I are committed to continuing the tradition of giving back, started years ago by others who had the foresight to do so,” King added.

“Over the years, Jeff and Cindy have shown they really know how to make a positive difference through philanthropic partnerships with the University,” said Erickson. In 2003, the Kings made a $1 million gift toward the construction of the Business Building, which houses the Smeal College of Business. They have created graduate student and faculty fellowships in the Smeal College and have made major gifts to the Knowledge Commons in the University Libraries and the Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital. The Kings also have a longstanding interest in what Penn State can do to improve K-12 education in the Commonwealth and beyond.

“This recent gift again displays the Kings’ commitment to helping Penn State grow as a comprehensive institution that not only provides excellent educational opportunities but also creates knowledge in many fields of study that can help to improve people’s lives.” The Kings’ gift will create the following endowments:

Early Career Professorships in the Smeal College of Business

The portion of the Kings’ gift supporting the Smeal College will create two new endowments, each at the $500,000 level: the King Family Early Career Professorship in Real Estate and the King Family Early Career Professorship in Marketing.

“Early Career Professorships allow us to secure some of the most promising up-and-coming faculty members — the rising stars of their professions,” Erickson said. “These newer professors can help to energize their departments with fresh ideas for research and teaching.”

The King Family Early Career Professorships will provide important funds that can help new faculty members establish themselves at Penn State and in their academic fields. These funds may be used to allow the faculty member to direct initial energies to the classroom, establishing a commitment to teaching; provide start-up funds for new areas of research; and offer early recognition for outstanding accomplishments. The professorships typically rotate to a new recipient every three years.

The King Family Conservation Endowment in the University Libraries

The Kings have directed $1 million to the University Libraries to create the King Family Conservation Endowment, which will help ensure the preservation of the Libraries’ collections. The Conservation Unit, under the direction of the University Libraries Conservator, is tasked with the preservation of rare, noncirculating items — including more than 200,000 printed volumes, more than 25 million archival records and manuscripts, and another million photographs, maps, prints, and audio-visual items that make up the Special Collections Library.

“Penn Staters know that we have one of the best academic research library systems in the country,” Erickson said. “One of the things that makes a great research library is the scope and quality of its physical holdings. But maintaining those collections can be a challenge, especially today, when other budgetary demands — such as database subscriptions, student services, and equipment and facilities upgrades — can seem more pressing. That’s why the Kings’ new endowment will be so valuable in helping the Libraries fulfill their mission.”

The King Family Conservation Endowment will provide the Conservation Unit with a stable funding source that will give the conservator the flexibility to undertake important projects right away that might otherwise have to wait, possibly saving irreplaceable artifacts from decay or damage incurred through additional months or years of storage or display in undesirable conditions. The Kings’ gift was also crucial in allowing Penn State to secure a challenge grant of $1.25 million from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to establish a new full-time senior conservator position in the University Libraries.

The King Family Impact Endowment in the College of Education

The Kings have also directed $1 million to the College of Education to create the King Family Impact Endowment, which will support research efforts and intervention programs focused on social issues concerning elementary and secondary students. A principal focus of the gift will be initiatives aimed at combating bullying in school and community settings.

A current initiative that will benefit from the Kings’ gift is Project: TEAM. Project: TEAM is a school-wide program that includes teaching students leadership and team-building skills, empowering both children and adults in school to contribute to a physically and emotionally safe environment, and involving parents and the community in projects that support anti-bullying efforts.

“In recent years, our society has become aware, in all-too-painful ways, of the severe consequences of bullying in our schools and communities,” Erickson said. “I know that Jeff and Cindy are passionate about making a difference in this area. By supporting Project: TEAM and similar initiatives, their gift will translate into real, tangible action in our schools and, hopefully, experiences that build up children’s sense of self-worth and shared responsibility — all of which can leave them better equipped to handle the challenges of adulthood.”

“And as with all of the endowments that the Kings have created,” Erickson added, “their Family Impact Endowment will have the flexibility to adapt over the years, so it can continue to meet the most pressing issues facing the schoolchildren of our region and our nation.”

The Kings’ latest gift will help the three Penn State units to reach their goals in the For the Future campaign, a University-wide effort directed toward a shared vision of Penn State as the most comprehensive, student-centered research university in America. The campaign is engaging 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. For the Future 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 October 09, 2013