New scholarship to aid students from Sandy Hook

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- A new scholarship established by an engineering alumnus will offer assistance to students from Newtown, Conn., attending Penn State.

"I wanted to do something for the community," said Phil Clark, a 1987 architectural engineering graduate. Clark, a licensed architect, said he had been mulling the idea of doing a scholarship for a while, but 2012's shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School gave him a greater sense of urgency.

"I always intended to do something like this -- the tragedy just accelerated it," he said.

Clark's $62,500 endowment, the Sandy Hook Penn State Scholarship, is designed to help graduates of Newtown Public High School who are enrolled in or planning to enroll in the College of Engineering at Penn State.

Clark is the founder of Newtown-based Claris Construction, a design-build firm specializing in architecture, engineering and commercial construction.

Recalling his own education, Clark said, "I received a scholarship my senior year. I was really struggling and it really helped. I told myself then if I'm in a position where I can help another student get through engineering, I'm going to help. Now I can."

Clark said his firm believes in the value of education and makes a concerted effort to hire local talent. "We try to draw from the Newtown community."

He said he hopes the Sandy Hook Penn State Scholarship will give the same encouragement he received while studying an extremely challenging discipline. "I think the country as a whole has to push the engineering and science disciplines."

Clark, a 1981 graduate of Abington Heights High School in Clarks Summit, Pa., went to work for the Whiting-Turner Contracting on IBM's office complex in Southbury, Conn., after receiving his Penn State degree.

He established Claris in 1991 and the company specializes in aviation, health care, education, industrial, interior, retail and mixed-use construction.

Clark helped to evaluate the former Sandy Hook Elementary School site and is consulting with the architectural firm designing the new school.

His gift will help the College of Engineering reach its goals in 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.

Last Updated January 20, 2014