Leones endow Energy and Mineral Engineering with $5 million gift

May 04, 2010

University Park, Pa. – John and Willie Leone have committed a leadership gift of $5 million to endow the Department of Energy and Mineral Engineering in Penn State's College of Earth and Mineral Sciences. The University will name the department in recognition of the couple's generosity.

The gift is the largest from an individual or couple in the history of the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences, and will enable the John and Willie Leone Family Department of Energy and Mineral Engineering to create such opportunities as a faculty chair, undergraduate scholarships and graduate fellowships.

“John and Willie have been extremely generous to the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences, and this gift is yet another example of their commitment to Penn State, EMS and our students,” said Bill Easterling, dean of the college. “It will have a wide and lasting impact by providing a significant pool of resources to foster an innovative program that brings together engineering and business education.”

John Leone is president and chief executive officer of Bonney Forge, with manufacturing operations in Mount Union, Pa.; Houston, Texas; Shanghai, China; and Bergamo, Italy. Bonney Forge, founded in 1876, is an industry leader in marketing and manufacturing forged steel fittings and unions, branch connections, forged steel valves, cast steel valves and specialty engineered products for the energy industries.

“We are pleased to make this commitment, which provides a foundation for a program in the college, integrating engineering and business disciplines," said John Leone. "I’m confident that graduates of this program will possess distinctive skills that will benefit their careers, industry and the University."

John Leone graduated in 1956 from Penn State's petroleum and natural gas engineering program and earned an MBA from Northern Illinois University in 1976. He is a life member of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and a Pipe Valves and Fittings Industry Hall of Fame honoree. At Penn State, he was named an Earth and Mineral Sciences Centennial Fellow in 1996, a recipient of the C. Drew Stahl Distinguished Achievement Award in Petroleum and Natural Gas Engineering in 2006, and a Penn State Alumni Fellow in 2008.

Willie Leone is a former professional ice skater. The couple resides in Bethlehem, Pa.

The Leones have a long history of supporting Penn State, dating from their first gift to the Department of Petroleum and Natural Gas Engineering in 1984. Their philanthropy includes gifts for undergraduate scholarships in petroleum and natural gas engineering, theatre and dance and Penn State athletics. The College of Arts and Architecture has an endowed scholarship, named for Willie Leone, that assists undergraduates majoring in musical theatre who are especially talented in the area of dance.

The endowment for the John and Willie Leone Family Department of Energy and Mineral Engineering is part of a University-wide fundraising initiative, For the Future: The Campaign for Penn State Students, which officially kicked off in April. The campaign’s top priority is keeping a Penn State education accessible for students and families. For the Future is the most ambitious effort of its kind in Penn State’s history, with the goal of securing $2 billion by 2014.


  • John and Willie Leone

    IMAGE: Penn State

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated November 18, 2010