Larry and Ellen Foster provide $500,000 for College of Communications

April 30, 2010

University Park, Pa. — Two Penn State alumni have added to their longtime support of the University with a $500,000 gift to the College of Communications.

Larry and Ellen Foster's latest gift will create a $400,000 Trustee Matching Scholarship and will provide $100,000 for equipment in the new multimedia laboratory and newsroom housed in the College of Communications.

"Larry and Ellen's most recent contribution to the College will be a significant boost to our totals for Penn State's 'For the Future' capital campaign, to be sure, but, most importantly, it will make life better for our students," Dean Doug Anderson said. "The impact that the Fosters' generosity has had on the College is unparalleled and strategically invested."

The Fosters previously have provided funds to endow the Larry and Ellen Foster Professorship in Writing and Editing and to support the twice-a-year Foster Conference of Distinguished Writers; they have contributed more than $500,000 to enhance Carnegie Building's lobby, main conference room and student services area; they have created the Lawrence G. and Ellen M. Foster Scholarship Endowment, which has a market value of nearly $400,000; and they have provided a lead gift to establish the Arthur W. Page Center for Integrity in Public Communications, which is housed in the College of Communications.

In addition to the Fosters' personal gifts to the College of Communications, which total some $2 million, Larry has been instrumental in securing contributions from individuals, foundations and trusts for the Page Center that total another $3 million.

"To say that Larry Foster is the godfather of the modern-day College of Communications would be an understatement," Anderson said. "He and Ellen have, through their personal generosity, supported students, faculty, programs and facilities. The spectrum of impact on the College is incredible."

The Page Center is named for the man who is considered the world's pioneer in corporate public relations. Arthur W. Page joined AT&T in 1927 and became known for setting high standards for ethical communication. The Page Center was the creation of Foster, retired corporate vice president for Johnson & Johnson, a Distinguished Alumnus of Penn State and one of the 20th century's most respected public relations executives.

"Two of my colleagues from the Arthur Page Society, Ed Block of AT&T and Jack Koten of Ameritech, helped me launch the Page Center, which already is making its mark in the public relations profession thanks to excellent management," Foster said. "Our goal is to make certain that future generations of students become familiar with integrity in communication."

The Fosters' $400,000 Trustee Matching Scholarship is the second largest in the College of Communications. The Trustee Matching Scholarship program at Penn State, created in 2002 by the Board of Trustees, aims to ensure that a Penn State education is accessible to qualified students, regardless of their financial means.

Under the program, the University matches approximately 5 percent of the principal of each gift annual and combines those funds with income from the endowment to effectively double the financial impact of the scholarship. A $50,000 gift payable over five years or less is the minimum gift eligible for the program. Donors may designate their gift to any campus or college and may specify a major field of study as a first preference.

"The Fosters continue to be remarkable champions for the College of Communications and Penn State. In the 1970s, Larry encouraged University leadership to dedicate itself to expanding its philanthropic outreach programs," said Rod Kirsch, senior vice president for development and alumni relations. "He saw both the need and the potential for the University to become a better institution through private support.

"Over the decades, Larry and Ellen have been role models for hundreds of Penn Staters. Their latest act of generosity will not only make a degree possible for many students in the College, it will also enrich their learning experience."

Larry earned his degree at Penn State in 1948, and Ellen earned her degree in 1949.

Through the years, the Fosters have supported a number of Penn State programs, including University Libraries, where, among other things, they endowed the Foster Librarian in Communications, and Intercollegiate Athletics.

  • Ellen (seated left) and Larry Foster (seated center) with some of their scholarship recipients and Foster Professor Tony Barbieri (standing, second from left) at a recent College of Communications event.

    IMAGE: Mark Selders

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated November 18, 2010