Steidle Building student lounge to be named for Penn State couple

April 04, 2016

Penn State alumni and longtime supporters William A. and Estelle Graessle Turney recently pledged $100,000 to the Department of Materials Science and Engineering to provide flexible funding for the department and its students. The gift is the latest milestone in the couple’s nearly two decades of supporting Penn State through philanthropy and service. To recognize the couple’s gift, the department will name a new student lounge in the renovated Steidle Building on the University Park campus in their honor, the “William A. Turney, Philanthropist, B.S. Ceramic Technology 1965, Student Lounge.”

“I vividly recall my days in the Steidle Building, which used to be called the Mineral Industries Building. That building was in many ways my home base during my time as a Penn Stater. I had classes there, I met with faculty there, I studied there. I’m honored to be able to put my name on a space that will enrich the Penn State experience for so many students,” William Turney said.

“We are extremely grateful for Bill and Estelle’s continued generosity toward the Department of Materials Science and Engineering. Student lounges are a vital space where students can study together, relax in between classes and build connections with faculty and staff,” said Susan Sinnott, materials science and engineering department head.

The Turneys’ legacy of support for Penn State began when William Turney spoke many years ago with the late William Schreyer, who served as president of the Penn State Board of Trustees and endowed the Schreyer Honors College together with his wife, Joan Schreyer.

“Hearing why William Schreyer gave back made me realize what philanthropy means to me and Estelle. It was a way that we could help others in the same way that I received help in the past. So we started our philanthropic journey, and it brings us so much joy today,” he said.

The Turneys made their first gift to Penn State in 1998 and endowed two scholarships in the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences (EMS). A year later, they established a scholarship in the College of Education, where Estelle completed a bachelor’s degree in elementary education in 1965. Then, in 2004, the couple endowed two more scholarships, one in each college. The Turneys are members of both the EMS Obelisk Society and Penn State’s Mount Nittany Society.

“We love to give back as proud Penn Staters, and giving to students in particular makes us very happy. It is especially nice to meet our students,” said Estelle Turney.

In addition to supporting Penn State, the Turneys give back to organizations that focus on reducing homelessness, improving substance abuse recovery and providing support for pro-life initiatives. They serve on a task force in Fort Pierce, Florida, to address homelessness. William Turney also serves on the EMS Development Council.

Estelle and William Turney met at Penn State and, after graduating in 1965, married in 1966. Estelle Turney started her career as a teacher before devoting herself full time to caring for their sons, Mark and Adam.

William Turney worked for 20 years for Harbison-Walker Refractories Company (now known as HarbisonWalker International), serving as a manager at manufacturing plants in Windham, Ohio, and Baltimore, Maryland. HarbisonWalker International is a leader in the manufacturing and supply of innovative refractory products, such as cement, metals and hydrocarbons. After William retired from HarbisonWalker International, the Turneys invested in numerous business ventures, including operating an educational service designed to help high school students prepare for college.

Penn State's alumni and friends are invaluable partners in fulfilling the University's land-grant mission of education, research and service. Private gifts from alumni and friends enrich the experiences of students both in and out of the classroom, expand the research and teaching capacity of our faculty, enhance the University's ability to recruit and retain top students and faculty, and help to ensure that students from every economic background have access to a Penn State education. The University's colleges and campuses are now enlisting the support of alumni and friends to advance a range of unit-specific initiatives.

The Steidle Building, where the new lounge will be located, is currently being renovated and is expected to be completed in June 2016. For more information about the Steidle Building renovation, visit

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Last Updated April 04, 2016