Penn State administrator establishes scholarship endowment

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Robert Pangborn, Penn State's vice president and dean for Undergraduate Education, and his wife, Ann, have established an endowment aimed at helping Penn State students overcome financial roadblocks in order to graduate on time.

The $30,000 gift creates the Pangborn Family Open Doors Scholarship under the University’s current fundraising campaign, "A Greater Penn State for 21st Century Excellence." Through the Open Doors Scholarship Matching Program, the Pangborns will leverage a 2:1 University match to endow the fund at $90,000.

“Philanthropic contributions from alumni, employees and friends that will help support students are much needed to bolster other sources of student aid,” said Robert Pangborn, who is also a professor of engineering mechanics and former associate dean in the College of Engineering, having joined the Penn State faculty in the Department of Engineering Science and Mechanics in 1979. Ann Pangborn, who now works as a fiber artist, briefly taught in the English composition program and served as a summer Division of Undergraduate Studies adviser for incoming first-year students when the couple first came to State College.  

“For us, the University’s two-to-one match presented a wonderful opportunity to amplify our philanthropy and to really make a difference,” Robert Pangborn added.   

“It is my real pleasure to thank Ann and Rob for creating the Pangborn Family Open Doors Scholarship,” said O. Richard Bundy III, Penn State’s vice president for development and alumni relations. “As thankful as we are for the financial support this scholarship will provide for our talented students, we are particularly grateful when University leaders like Rob and his family invest in critically important initiatives like Open Doors, which is central to 'A Greater Penn State for 21st Century Excellence.'” The Pangborns also created an endowed scholarship in the College of Engineering in 2003. 

The Open Doors Scholarship Matching Program benefits students enrolled in one of five pilot programs designed to help them earn their degrees, reduce debt and excel at Penn State. The scholarship and pilot programs address specific challenges along undergraduates’ academic journeys.

For example, the Open Doors initiative could extend to ninth grade students through RaiseMe, a micro-scholarship that encourages preparation by high school students for college-level studies. Participation in the Pathway to Success: Summer Start (PaSSS) program can help first-year students get off to a strong start. The initiative could also aid juniors transferring from another campus to University Park with a combination of scholarship support, mentoring and connection-building thanks to the Student Transitional Experiences Program (STEP).

The Pangborns, whose three children all graduated from Penn State, said it is exciting and fulfilling to give back to the University.

“For us and for many other Penn State supporters, the matching program offers a way to demonstrate the significant role that Penn State has played in our lives,” Robert Pangborn said. “The enthusiastic response to the matching program we’ve seen from alumni and friends is an affirmation of the ideal of higher education and the ability of this University to prepare successful graduates to solve problems and make a better world.”

As he explained it, Penn State has paved the way for many first-generation college students, as well as individuals from low-income households.

“We wanted to help students who are motivated to succeed but would face a significant financial challenge in earning a Penn State degree,” he said. “The Open Doors Scholarship Matching Program provides that assistance while encouraging students to be academically prepared and make wise decisions along the way to ensure successful and timely degree completion.” 

The Pangborn Family Open Doors Scholarship will help the University further its historic land-grant mission to serve the public good. To fulfill that mission for a new era of rapid change and global connections, the University has begun "A Greater Penn State for 21st Century Excellence," a fast-paced campaign focused on the three key imperatives of a public university. Private support will keep the door to higher education open and enable students to graduate on time and on track to success; create transformative experiences on Penn State campuses and around the globe that tap the full potential of Penn Staters to make a difference; and impact the world through discovery, innovation and entrepreneurship. To learn more, visit

Last Updated January 12, 2018