Salatka family's $50,000 scholarship supports cultural diversity

Local residents and longtime Penn State supporters Karl and Jennifer Salatka recently pledged $50,000 to create the Dr. Karl and Mrs. Jennifer Salatka Family Trustee Scholarship at Penn State New Kensington.

The Salatkas’ gift establishes the 16th trustee matching 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.

“We believe that higher education improves the individual, and this, in turn, improves his or her community and society in general,” said Jennifer, a retired registered nurse. “We have admiration for those less fortunate who wish to improve themselves through higher education.“

“It is a way to give back to the community,” said Karl, a retired general surgeon. “We also wanted to take full advantage of the University's matching fund program, which directs additional scholarship resources to our regional campus.”

Undergraduates and incoming freshmen at the New Kensington campus are eligible for the Salatka Trustee Scholarship. Knowing the impact that higher education can have on a community, the donors want the scholarship to be given to New Kensington students whose ethnic, cultural and national backgrounds contribute to the diversity of the student body. The Salaktkas' gift is the first to support diversity at the campus.

“Simply put, diversity broadens the base of educated individuals,” said Jennifer, a native of Johnstown, Pa. “We offer the opportunity and challenge to those who previously might not have been able to fulfill their full potential.”

Jim earned a medical degree and a bachelor’s degree in chemistry and biology from the University of Pittsburgh. Jennifer received her nursing degree from Mercy Hospital School of Nursing. They reside in Lower Burrell.

Their connection to Penn State is through a niece who graduated from the University Park campus in 2010 and a nephew who currently attends University Park. Their connection to the New Kensington campus is their support of higher education in the Alle-Kiski Valley. The Salatkas encourage others in the community to invest in the region.

“We would hope that others who are financially able will learn of this great opportunity to aid in the further education of our youth and thereby strengthen our community and our nation,” Jennifer said.

The Salatkas' gift supports the campus’ goals of 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 Feb. 1, the campus has received gifts and pledges totaling $2.94 million since the campaign began in July 2007. New Kensington has reached 98 percent of its goal. For more information about the For the Future campaign at Penn State New Kensington, contact Donna Speer at 724-334-6057 or

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Last Updated February 27, 2014