Scholarship honors a best friend, supports engineering and ag sciences students

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- To honor a best friend and give back to his alma mater, a Penn State alumnus has established a scholarship for students in the colleges of Engineering and Agricultural Sciences.

Created by Mark Robinson, a 1985 electrical engineering graduate residing in Cary, N.C., the new scholarship is the Kevin Byrne Munley Memorial Scholarship. The endowment honors Kevin Munley, a 1983 forest science alumnus, who served as a watershed manager for the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection.

"Kevin was a really good friend of mine from my high school days. He was my next door neighbor and his whole family was a big part of my high school years," explained Robinson.

Munley's widow, Jeannie, said, "Mark was like Kevin's fourth brother. Mark spent a lot of time at the Munley household while his parents were out of the country with Mark's father's job."

After they graduated from high school in West Chester, Pa., Robinson went into the Air Force while Munley went to work to save for college.

The two eventually reunited at Penn State where Munley helped Robinson adjust to life as a returning adult student.

"Kevin and the PSU veterans' programs provided a much needed support system for me, returning to college after several years in the service," Robinson said.

Robinson went on to work in the computer industry for 25 years while Munley worked for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania for 26 years.

Despite their diverging career paths, Robinson said the two never lost touch, including asking Munley to serve as the best man at his first wedding.

Munley eventually succumbed to non-Hodgkin lymphoma in 2012 and is survived by his wife Jeannie, and children Bryan ('12 EMS), Matthew and Meghan.

After a friend decided to start a scholarship to honor Robinson's late wife and 1983 nursing alumna Diane, the gesture gave him the idea to name one after Munley.

So with the full support of his wife Susanna and Jeannie Munley, Robinson established the Kevin Byrne Munley Memorial Scholarship.

"My first reaction to this scholarship was quite emotional," Munley said. "I felt it was quite an honor that Mark would do this for Kevin and our family."

For Robinson, the endowment serves as a lasting tribute to a man who was more than a best friend.

He said, "His family was like my second family."

Munley added, "Kevin would feel overwhelmed and humbled, but proud that Mark would think that much of him to establish a scholarship in his name. He would be so happy to know that a worthy student was benefiting by a scholarship in a profession that he loved. He was especially proud to be a Penn State graduate."

The Kevin Byrne Munley Memorial Scholarship will help the College of Engineering reach its goal 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.

Last Updated April 15, 2014