Ramage gift supports scholarships for campus students in STEM fields

Local residents and longtime Penn State supporters Jim and Lynn Ramage recently pledged $50,000 to create the Dr. James Ramage and Lynn Ramage Trustee Scholarship at Penn State New Kensington.

The Ramages' gift establishes the 15th Trustee Scholarship at the campus. The Trustee Matching Scholarship Program maximizes the impact of private giving while directing funds to students as quickly as possible, meeting the urgent need for scholarship support. For Trustee Scholarships created through the end of For the Future: The Campaign for Penn State Students on June 30, 2014, Penn State will provide an annual 10 percent match of the total pledge or gift. This level is an increase from the program’s original match of 5 percent, and it is available only for new endowments of $50,000 or more. The University match, which is approximately double the endowment’s annual spendable income, continues in perpetuity, multiplying the support available for students with financial need.

“I am thankful that I have the opportunity to help students realize their potential and benefit by the education provided by Penn State,” said Jim, an Air Force veteran. “I served my country and was fortunate to be able to take advantage of the Korean GI Bill and assistance from Penn State scholarships. This gives me an opportunity to pay back the University by helping deserving students achieve their degrees.”

Undergraduates and incoming freshmen at the New Kensington campus are eligible for the Ramage scholarship. As per the donor's wishes, first preference is given to students who enroll in the math course, Calculus with Analytic Geometry I, a required course for the science, technology, engineering and math majors. It is the Ramages’ desire to support students who are pursuing a degree in the STEM fields.

Penn State offers more than 30 STEM degrees through its colleges of Agriculture, Earth and Mineral Sciences, Engineering, Information Sciences and Technology, and Science. Four degrees: biomedical engineering technology, electro-mechanical engineering technology, information sciences and technology, and radiological sciences; can be completed at the New Kensington campus. Other degrees can be started at New Kensington and finished at the University Park campus.

The Ramages' connection to the campus has spanned more than 20 years, beginning in the 1990s when Jim served on the campus Advisory Board. They have attended numerous events and have donated to other scholarships that benefit campus students. Their bonds to Penn State are even stronger.

Jim earned a bachelor’s degree in agricultural and biological science from Penn State in 1963 and a veterinary degree from the University of Pennsylvania in 1967. For 30 years, he owned and operated a veterinary practice, Valley Veterinary Hospital, in Lower Burrell. Lynn was the business manager, technician and surgical assistant at the business. Both are now retired. Two of their children also are Penn State alumni. The connection encompasses three generations as Lynn’s father, Dee Orcutt, was a graduate of Penn State’s School of Forest Resources.

In addition to supporting scholarships, the couple supports the Arboretum at Penn State, where trees, shrubs and herbaceous plants are cultivated for scientific and educational purposes. Located adjacent to the University Park campus near the intersection of Park Avenue and Bigler Road, the Arboretum sits on 370 acres containing more than 17,000 individual plants representing more than 700 species. The Arboretum’s marsh meadow was named after the husband and wife philanthropists. Occupying space in a low area of the Arboretum along Park Avenue, the Ramage Marsh Meadow is a landscape feature that represents a grassy wetland. The meadow protects the infiltration and cleansing of storm water run-off and replenishes the underground aquifers that serve the University and the community.

“The Ramages helped lay the foundation for the Arboretum at Penn State to become the first-class botanical institution it strives to be,” said Patrick Williams, director of development for the Arboretum. “The Arboretum is a place of research, education, conservation and enjoyment of the natural world.”

Complementing their giving to the campus and University, the Ramages regularly give back to the community. The Ford City residents are Penn State Master Gardeners and support several horticultural societies. Trained by the Penn State Cooperative Extension, Master Gardeners are volunteer educators in their local communities. They advise individuals and groups on gardening topics that include plant selection, composting, soil improvement, pest control, vegetable and flower gardening, and pruning.

Lynn has served as president of the Kittanning Garden Club, and Jim is a member of the American Conifer Society. They developed a 37-acre garden on their Armstrong County property that boasts thousands of bulbs and hundreds of trees, an extensive hosta collection, and 14 varieties of oak

A year ago, the Ramages opened their property for a New Kensington campus event that offered a tour of the English-style estate, which sits on a bluff overlooking the borough of Ford City. The Ramages designed and tend to the woodland and perennial gardens. The areas feature bulbs, plants, bushes and unique trees planted by the Ramages. Their devotion to the botanical collection was the favorite aspect of the garden tour for event organizers Patrick and Mardelle Kopnicky, Penn State alumni and co-chairs of the campus’ For the Future campaign.

“What I love about their place is they are doing exactly what they want, and they go out searching for unique plants,” said Mardelle, who is on the board of the Harrison Hills Environmental Learning Center. “This is their love and their passion, and they take very good care of it themselves.”

The Ramages' gift will support the campus’ goals in For the Future, which 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.

As of Nov. 1, the campus has received gifts and pledges totaling $2.612 million since the campaign began in July 2007. New Kensington has reached 87 percent of its goal. Overall, the University-wide campaign has raised $1.94 billion of its $2 billion goal.

For more information about the campus campaign, contact Donna Speer at 724-334-6057 or dms46@psu.edu.

To give online, visit http://www.nk.psu.edu/Giving/giveoptions.htm.

For more about the Arboretum at Penn State, visit http://www.arboretum.psu.edu/index.html.

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Last Updated November 20, 2013