Fraternity foundation honors James F. Schwab, creates scholarship

January 30, 2012

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Alumni of the Sigma chapter of the Phi Sigma Delta fraternity have joined together to honor one of their own and help students in need through the creation of the group’s fourth scholarship endowment at the Penn State. The James F. Schwab/Phi Sigma Delta Sigma Educational Foundation Trustee Scholarship has been funded with support from the foundation as well as family members and friends of the late James F. Schwab, a 1968 Penn State graduate and the foundation’s treasurer and president-elect at the time of his death in 2009.

“Jim Schwab was a second-generation member of Phi Sigma Delta, and he took his commitment to our group very seriously,” said former foundation president Stephen Krentzman, who graduated with Schwab in 1968. “He remained dedicated to our efforts, especially our philanthropic mission, even through his final illness, and we can offer no more fitting memorial to our brother and our friend than this scholarship.”

Schwab, who earned a master of business administration degree from the University of Pennsylvania after his graduation from Penn State, went on to serve as a vice president of D&H Distributing, a company founded by his family in 1918. D&H Distributing is now one of the country’s top 10 distributors of business technology. Schwab’s late father, Morris Schwab, was also involved with the company, and he was a 1940 graduate of Penn State and a brother of Phi Sigma Delta. The foundation honored the elder Schwab with the creation of the Morrie Schwab/Phi Sigma Delta Sigma Educational Foundation Scholarship in 2008. The foundation also awards a scholarship each year from its own endowment in honor of the late Leona Schwab, Schwab’s mother and a 1941 Penn State graduate.

“As brothers of Phi Sigma Delta and graduates of the University, our members are deeply grateful for the experiences that we had at Penn State and for the friendships that continue to be so meaningful to us years later,” said Jim Meister, the foundation’s scholarships chair. “Through scholarships, we can help new generations of young people to have their own great experiences at Penn State, and this kind of philanthropy also helps to keep us connected with each other, even though there is no longer a Phi Sigma Delta chapter at the University.”

Phi Sigma Delta’s history at Penn State began in 1925, when the local Mu Alpha Sigma group was formed to create a sense of community for Jewish men on the University Park campus. In 1927, the group became the Sigma chapter of the national fraternity Phi Sigma Delta. That organization merged with Zeta Beta Tau in the late 1960s, and the Penn State chapters also merged, but Phi Sigma Delta resumed an independent status at Penn State from 1987 to 2000. Today, the group’s traditions continue through the Phi Sigma Delta Sigma chapter of national fraternity Alpha Epsilon Pi.

Brothers from every generation of Phi Sigma Delta Sigma continue to meet for annual reunions, dating back to the 1950s, and the fraternity’s foundation has become one of the leading Greek-system philanthropists at Penn State. It offers 24 scholarships each year from its own endowments, and, in addition to the University endowments honoring the Schwabs, it also has created scholarship funds at Penn State honoring Walter and Annette Kleeblatt and Mitchell “Mike” Devorris (class of 1930). The Phi Sigma Delta Sigma Educational Foundation’s giving to the University now totals more than $600,000.

“Through their generosity, the supporters of the Phi Sigma Delta Sigma Educational Foundation have ensured that their brotherhood will continue to play a vital role in the life of the University for many years to come,” said Rodney P. Kirsch, senior vice president for development and alumni relations. “Their scholarships are not only helping students who might not otherwise be able to attend the University, but they are also setting a powerful example of leadership for other organizations and alumni.”

The James F. Schwab/Phi Sigma Delta Sigma Educational Foundation Trustee Scholarship will be targeted to students in the Smeal College of Business finance program, and it will earn matching support through the Trustee Matching Scholarship Program. In this groundbreaking philanthropic model, Penn State matches 5 percent of the total pledge or gift at the time a Trustee Scholarship is created, making funds available immediately for student awards. This University match, which is approximately equal to the endowment’s annual spendable income, continues in perpetuity, doubling the support available for students with financial need.

“Jim loved Penn State not only because of the education he received but also because of the experiences he had there,” said Emelie B. Schwab, his widow and a fellow 1968 graduate. “Our life together began when we met for the first time in front of Schwab Auditorium -- no relation, but we always joked about the coincidence -- and we were both grateful to the University and Phi Sigma Delta for so much. Jim always tried to repay the debt he felt that he owed to both his alma mater and his fraternity. This scholarship is the perfect tribute to his memory, and our whole family would like to thank the brothers of Phi Sigma Delta and everyone who has contributed.”

Krentzman said, “I am proud that through the philanthropy of our members, we can honor Jim Schwab in this way and make a difference for Penn State students. Scholarships allow us to build on Phi Sigma Delta’s traditions of service and leadership and keep our legacy shining bright.”


Last Updated January 30, 2012