Katzaman bequest to support ag sciences, Penn State micro-scholarship program

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Michael and Diane Katzaman, of Wernersville, have pledged an estate gift of approximately $1.7 million to be evenly divided between the Agriculture Fund, which supports Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences, and a micro-scholarship fund administered through the University's Office of Undergraduate Education.

A native of Arlington, Virginia, Diane Malcolm Katzaman graduated from Penn State in 1971 with a bachelor's degree in horticulture and worked for several years as a Penn State Extension agriculture educator in Bucks County. After obtaining an MBA from the University of Pennsylvania, she spent many years in information technology and health care marketing positions. Upon her retirement in 2015, she became a Penn State Extension Master Gardener in Berks County.

"We believe in the value of providing education in agricultural topics," Diane Katzaman said. "It is our hope that this gift can help to preserve the good work being done in the Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences in the future."

Rick Roush, dean of the College of Agricultural Sciences, expressed appreciation for the Katzamans' gift, noting that it will help to strengthen the college's programs. "Michael and Diane are great examples of the lifelong and mutually beneficial relationships between our alumni and the college and University," he said. "We’re very fortunate to have these ongoing connections."

Michael "Mike" Katzaman, a native of Reading and first-generation college student from a Pennsylvania Dutch family, began his college career at Penn State Berks before graduating from Penn State in 1973 with a degree in computer science. In 1976, he completed an MBA at Drexel University and went on to a successful career in technology, working in management positions for General Electric and MCI Inc., among others. He retired in 2003.

"We believe Penn State's micro-scholarship program can significantly help students with a dream of a college education who do not have the skill set and financial resources to pursue their dream," Mike Katzaman said. "By working with these students to set and achieve milestones throughout middle and high school careers and then rewarding them for successful completion of these goals, the micro-scholarship program helps establish personal, educational and financial foundations that they can build on to greatly increase their success in further education as well as in life."

Fifty percent of the Katzamans' gift will go to enhance the new micro-scholarship initiative, which rewards motivated and success-driven students for a wide range of activities, beginning as early as ninth grade. In partnership with Raise.me, Penn State allows high school students to earn credit toward scholarships after successfully completing academic and co-curricular requirements. The program's goal is to reach students who have a chance of high success at Penn State but may face financial barriers or other hardships.

"Contributing to the micro-scholarship programs we have at Penn State is an effective and innovative way to provide support to the high-performing students who need it the most," said Robert Pangborn, vice president and dean for undergraduate education at Penn State. "Donors like the Katzamans help the students to directly fund their studies while allowing them flexibility and choices."

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.

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Last Updated March 17, 2017