Distinguished Alumni set goal to increase scholarship to $1 million

May 11, 2010

University Park, Pa. -- Penn State undergraduate Mandie Schofield wants to say thank you.

Schofield, an advertising/public relations major from Allentown, is completing her first year as a Schreyer Honors College student and is one of 11 Schreyer Scholars this year who received a Trustee Scholarship established by the University's Society of Distinguished Alumni.

"Honestly, without the scholarship, I wouldn’t be able to be here," she said. "If I could tell the alumni who made this possible, I would say thank you – thank you so much. You have no idea what a difference you make. I want to be able to do the same thing and help someone who is in my situation who can’t afford to get through it someday."

The Society of Distinguished Alumni (SDA) wants to make sure that financial support is available to help many more students like Schofield. To that end, its executive committee has decided to boost the society's scholarship endowment for Schreyer Honors College students to $1 million.

Fundraising for the SDA scholarship is part of Penn State's University-wide fundraising effort, For the Future: The Campaign for Penn State Students, and will strengthen a priority of the campaign -- enhancing honors education.

In 2006 the SDA established a $400,000 Trustee Scholarship endowment to assist undergraduates in the Schreyer College who have financial need. The original fund has awarded more than $100,000 in scholarships to 38 Schreyer Scholars since its inception.

The Distinguished Alumni Award is the highest honor that Penn State bestows upon an alumna or alumnus. The award salutes the achievements of outstanding alumni whose “personal lives, professional achievements, and community service exemplify the objectives of their alma mater.”

Already, three members of the society's executive committee have stepped up to the challenge by making gifts toward the $1 million endowment goal.

Gil Wetzel, current president of the SDA’s executive committee and a senior vice president with the Mayer Leadership Group, has pledged $95,000.

K. David Boyer, a 1973 graduate of the College of the Liberal Arts, has committed $50,000 to the scholarship endowment. Boyer’s daughter, Tess, is a Schreyer Scholar enrolled in the College of Communications.

Jim Carnes, retired president and CEO of Sarnoff Corp. and a member of the Schreyer Honors College capital campaign committee, has pledged $135,000 to the endowment.

Carnes noted that for more than a decade, the society has partnered with the college, matching SDA members as mentors to Scholar student protégés. Since the society's inception, 45 mentors have shared their experience and expertise with 175 Scholars.

"I’ve mentored over a dozen of these young people in the last eight years and every one of them is outstanding," said Carnes. "It’s just amazing to me how accomplished these people are, how articulate they are, the kinds of things they’re doing as students. All Penn State students have an opportunity to make a big impact on the world, but I think Schreyer students are especially capable of doing that."

Schreyer College Dean Christian M. M. Brady said the society's support of the college is especially meaningful.

“We say that the honors college is ‘shaping people who shape the world,’” he said. “Through the Society of Distinguished Alumni, Schreyer Scholars are learning how to make a positive, lasting mark on this world from some of Penn State’s most accomplished and esteemed graduates.

"Add to that the financial support that the society is giving to a number of our Scholars each year, and the influence the Distinguished Alumni are having at such a critical time in these young people’s lives is shaping the success of the next generation."

Penn State recently kicked off the public phase of For the Future: The Campaign for Penn State Students with a goal of $2 billion by 2014 -- making it the biggest fundraising effort in the University’s history. The campaign's top priority is to increase scholarship support and ensure that the University can continue to offer an outstanding education to students from every economic background while benefiting the public through research and service. Visit http://www.giveto.psu.edu to learn more.

Last Updated January 10, 2014