Donley gift to support entrepreneurship, innovation programs

December 18, 2013

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Programs that develop and encourage entrepreneurship and innovation in Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences will receive a boost as a result of a gift from an alumnus of the college and his wife.

William and Margaret Donley, of Pittsburgh, targeted their $50,000 gift to an existing endowment that provides programmatic support for the college's Entrepreneurship and Innovation Program.

This initiative includes entrepreneurship-focused classes, the Ag Business Springboard undergraduate student competition and the Research Applications for Innovation grant program for faculty. Proceeds from the endowment can be used to cover expenses related to scholarly activities for faculty and students, staff support, travel and other needs.

"Bill and Maggie's gift provides essential support for our program," said Harbaugh Entrepreneurship Scholar Mark Gagnon, who oversees the Entrepreneurship and Innovation initiative. "Their generosity will help us to engage and empower students and faculty to move forward with their own entrepreneurial journeys."

With the world becoming a more fast paced, competitive and complicated place, the Entrepreneurship and Innovation Program is a timely and critically initiative, noted William Donley. "Maggie and I have both benefited from our Penn State experiences, and we feel strongly that this support will help the College of Agricultural Sciences remain a world-class institution for generations to come," he said.

William Donley graduated from the College of Agricultural Sciences in 1978 with a bachelor's degree in forest science before earning a master's of business administration from the University of Pittsburgh's Executive MBA program. He had a 31-year career in senior management with extensive experience in global materials and services businesses.

He worked for nearly 20 years with Koppers Co. and its spin-off, Koppers Industries, where he gained management experience in sales, procurement, operations, strategic planning and division management.

In 2005, as president of RailWorks' products and services group, Donley led a management buyout to form Tangent Rail, a Pittsburgh railroad industry service company. He was president and CEO of Tangent until it was sold in 2010, after which he retired.

Donley is chairman of the Entrepreneurship and Innovation Program advisory board and serves as a judge for the Ag Business Springboard student competition. He received the Outstanding Alumnus Award from the college's former School of Forest Resources, now the Department of Ecosystem Science and Management.

Margaret Donley is a 1979 Penn State graduate with a bachelor's degree in German from the College of Liberal Arts and a minor in international business. As a student, she was a cheerleader and a member of Parmi Nous Society and Delta Delta Delta sorority.

The Donleys' gift will help the College of Agricultural Sciences to achieve the goals of For the Future: The Campaign for Penn State Students. This University-wide effort is directed toward a shared vision of Penn State as the most comprehensive, student-centered research university in America.

The University is engaging Penn State's alumni and friends as partners in achieving six key objectives: ensuring student access and opportunity, enhancing honors education, enriching the student experience, building faculty strength and capacity, fostering discovery and creativity, and sustaining the University's tradition of quality. The campaign's top priority is keeping a Penn State degree affordable for students and families. The For the Future campaign is the most ambitious effort of its kind in Penn State's history, with the goal of securing $2 billion by 2014.

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated March 20, 2014