2011 class gift: Lt. Michael P. Murphy/Penn State Veterans Plaza

November 02, 2010

University Park, Pa. -- Penn State's Senior Class Gift Committee announced Nov. 2 that the class of 2011 has chosen its gift to the University: The Lt. Michael P. Murphy/Penn State Veterans Plaza.

Seniors so far have pledged more than $34,000 to the campaign, which will create a plaza that honors Lt. Michael P. Murphy, a 1998 graduate of the University and the only Penn State alumnus to earn the Medal of Honor, and all other Penn State veterans. Lt. Murphy, a Navy Seal, posthumously received the U.S. military's highest decoration for his actions in 2005 during the war in Afghanistan.

More than 2,800 seniors cast their ballots last week, in person and online, to vote for one of three gift proposals.

"The Lt. Michael P. Murphy and Penn State Veterans Plaza will fulfill a long sought-after addition to the landscape and tradition of the campus," said Benjamin Witt, a senior in biology and the Senior Class Gift Committee overall chairperson at the announcement. "Our plan is to pay fitting tribute to Penn State veterans and our only Medal of Honor recipient with dignity and gratitude for their contributions to the University and to our country. I know students and alumni alike will support the development of such a meaningful plaza."

The two other proposals on the ballot were the Penn State Alma Mater Display, and the “Old Willow” Tree at the Arboretum and Trustee Scholarship. The gift selection committee chose the three finalists from more than 60 submitted by members of the University community.

“Penn Staters have bravely served in the military dating back to the Civil War, and the University now has the largest ROTC program of any non-military institution,” said Penn State President Graham Spanier, who accepted the gift on behalf of the University. “This class gift is a wonderful tribute to our veterans, and the plaza also will serve to beautify a prominent campus location and provide a functional gathering space.”

The funding for the class gift comes from seniors pledging all or a portion of their general deposit or making cash gifts. The University holds the $100 deposit during a student's time at Penn State and uses it to cover unforeseen expenses, fees and emergency costs.

The 2011 Senior Class Gift Committee includes Benjamin Witt (overall chairperson), Ryan Hartnett (communications chairperson), Sharon Rose (marketing chairperson), Geoff Halberstadt (gift development chairperson), Vanessa Gruver (fundraising chairperson), Jackie Boyland (student relations chairperson), Michal Berns (campus outreach chairperson), and Robin Beltrani (events chairperson).

The committee is presenting a Hall of Gifts from Nov. 2-6 on the ground floor of the HUB to showcase the history of some of Penn State’s most well known class gifts. PSUSeniors.com, a blog by the Senior Class Gift Committee to help their peers stay informed about senior-year events and Penn State traditions, will follow the progress of the class of 2011's gift. Students and faculty also are encouraged to follow news about the class gift on Twitter at PSUSeniors.

The tradition of class gifts began when the class of 1861, at its reunion in 1890, gave the University a portrait of Penn State's first president, Evan Pugh, which still hangs in the lobby of Old Main. For more information about Penn State's senior class gift program, visit http://www.seniorclassgift.psu.edu online.

To view a Still Life of photos from the event, visit http://live.psu.edu/stilllife/2351 online.

  • Penn State President Graham Spanier (left) and Benjamin Witt, chair of the Senior Class Gift Committee, present the 2011 class gift, the Lt. Michael P. Murphy/Penn State Veterans Plaza.

    IMAGE: Sara Brennen
Last Updated June 20, 2012