AAUW State College announces centennial gift for Penn State Forum

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — In recognition of its 100th anniversary, AAUW State College, an organization that advances equity for women and girls through advocacy, education, philanthropy, and research, has established the AAUW State College Centennial Speaker Endowment at Penn State. The $100,000 endowment will help underwrite the costs of bringing speakers who have made significant contributions to women’s equity to the Penn State Forum Speaker Series.

Connie Wheeler, chair of the AAUW State College Centennial Gift Committee, said the branch wanted a gift that would meet AAUW’s mission to advance equity for women and girls, bridge town and gown, and exist in perpetuity. Committee member Sally Kalin added that AAUW’s focus on equity is broad, and includes, but is not limited to, educational, socio-economic, health, and legal equity, both domestically and internationally.

The endowment and selection of speakers will be managed by the Penn State Forum, which sponsors a series of speakers/luncheons throughout the year that attracts several hundred attendees. The gift creating the endowment was formally made on Sunday evening, Oct. 16, at the AAUW State College Centennial Gala.

“On behalf of the forum, I express our appreciation to the AAUW for their historic gift,” said Lori Bechtel-Wherry, Penn State Forum chair and chancellor at Penn State Altoona. “Their generosity supports our continued focus on the ongoing challenges regarding women’s equity. While we have made significant progress in this regard, our work continues.”

AAUW State College Centennial Speakers will maximize their reach by engaging with the University and local community through additional talks and seminars.

From its first meeting in 1916 on the Penn State campus, AAUW State College has had a deep and long history with Penn State that includes advocating for better curricula and facilities for women students; influencing the founding of Penn State’s educational TV and radio stations; assisting in the efforts to admit women to the Hershey medical school; and contributing thousands of dollars in student scholarships. Lucretia Simmons, the first woman appointed to full professor, and Mimi Coppersmith, the first woman to chair the Penn State Board of Trustees, were both AAUW State College members.

“We are excited to contribute to an educational and diversity initiative that underscores the advancement of women,” said Billie Willits, AAUW State College co-president. “AAUW State College is, and will continue to be, a leader in ensuring the empowerment of women.”

Penn State’s alumni and friends are invaluable partners in fulfilling the University’s land-grant mission of education, research and service. Private gifts from alumni and friends enrich the experiences of students both in and out of the classroom, expand the research and teaching capacity of our faculty, enhance the University’s ability to recruit and retain top students and faculty, and help to ensure that students from every economic background have access to a Penn State education. The University’s colleges and campuses are now enlisting the support of alumni and friends to advance a range of unit-specific initiatives.

Last Updated October 18, 2016