Sutter pledges $390,000 to Penn State Altoona

May 18, 2009

Altoona, Pa. -- Penn State alumnus Richard C. "Dick" Sutter, of Altoona, has made a $390,000 commitment to Penn State Altoona. The gift, made in the form of a trust as part of the donor's estate plans, will support projects that contribute to the ongoing development and advancement of the campus.

The residential suites on the fifth floor of the campus' Aaron Building in downtown Altoona will be named the Sutter Suites, in tribute to the lives and accomplishments of Sutter and his late wife, Sally A. Sutter.

"Inspired by a philanthropic vision he and Sally shared, Dick Sutter has created an enduring legacy at Penn State Altoona and within the greater Altoona community," said Chancellor Lori J. Bechtel-Wherry. "On behalf of our entire extended Penn State family, I thank him for his generous gift that will support our college's expanding presence in downtown Altoona.  It is entirely fitting that a prominent space in the Aaron Building will bear the Sutter name."

The renovation of the Aaron Building's fifth floor fills a major need by the campus and the community for additional meeting and event space. The Sutter Suites, consisting of two master bedrooms and two baths, will serve as lodging for distinguished speakers, award recipients, and honored guests.

The Sutter Suites are on the east side of the building, overlooking the city and the area of Brush Mountain where Dick Sutter said he used to hike as a boy.  An Altoona native, he is founder and president of Richard C. Sutter & Associates Inc., a company specializing in community planning and development.

"I want to continue to be a part of the rebirth and revitalization of the central business district of Altoona," said Sutter, who has served in a consulting role for numerous organizations committed to economic growth and redevelopment efforts throughout the region.

"I view Penn State Altoona's Aaron Building as key to this initiative," he explained. "My firm has prepared two revitalization strategies for downtown Altoona: one in 1991 and one in 2003. Presently, I'm part of the effort to update the 2003 strategy. Although I have been involved in a dozen such efforts throughout the state, Altoona is where my heart is. This gift will further strengthen the University's and Penn State Altoona's presence and investment not only in downtown but throughout central Pennsylvania."

A 1961 Penn State graduate and former Altoona campus student, Sutter will be inducted into the platinum category of Penn State Altoona's Ivyside Society in September. This category recognizes the highest level of giving at the campus.

In 1999, Sutter's community planning firm received the Excellence in Small Business Award from the Altoona-Blair County Chamber of Commerce.  A former Blair County planning director, Sutter serves on the county's Metropolitan Planning Organization technical committee. He previously served on the Governor's Land Use Advisory Committee on Smart Growth and was treasurer of the Pennsylvania Planning Association.

Before her passing in 2005, Sally A. Sutter was a private education and family mediation consultant. Her clients included families throughout central Pennsylvania and the Blair County court system. She offered nearly 20 years of distinguished service to the Altoona Area School District as a teacher and administrator. She earned her bachelor's and D.Ed. degrees from Penn State.  Like her husband, she began her undergraduate career at the Altoona campus.

Dick Sutter said that the gift to Penn State Altoona symbolizes the couple's shared commitment to contribute toward the betterment of the community.

"My community planning firm's work results in physical improvements to communities, and Sally's work resulted in improved interpersonal and family relationships," he said. "In the end, we both endeavored to improve the quality of life for the residents of the Commonwealth.  She would have thought that this gift was a great idea."


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Last Updated May 21, 2009