Major gift enhances new E-Knowledge Commons student space in Reber Building

Chris Hennessey
June 23, 2017

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Alumnus Naren Gursahaney and his wife, Judy, have made a transformational $500,000 gift to fund the very heart of the E-Knowledge Commons, a new student-centered collaborative space set to open this fall in the Reber Building.

“We are thrilled to be able to participate in such an exciting project that will create a dynamic learning environment for Penn State students and enhance their overall academic experience now and into the future,” said Naren Gursahaney, a 1983 graduate in mechanical engineering.

Located on the first floor of the Reber Building, home to the Department of Mechanical and Nuclear Engineering, the 7,500 square-foot E-Knowledge Commons will give engineering students a space close to their classrooms and labs where they can work in teams, share ideas and learn from each other in a variety of settings.

The Gursahaneys' exceptional gift will support the centerpiece of the new space, the E-Knowledge Commons itself, an open, dynamic and flexible work area designed for student collaboration and equipped with modular furniture that can be moved to create an open space for lectures and other events. Complementing the central commons are a lobby, two computer labs and five group-study rooms. Students will enjoy colorful, modern décor and finishes in the new space. Practical features include charging stations, lockers and a host of technological resources for learning and presentation.

“The gift from the Gursahaney family in support of the E-Knowledge Commons will have a lasting impact on the educational experiences of current and future Penn State engineers,” said Karen Thole, distinguished professor and head of the Department of Mechanical and Nuclear Engineering. “Because Naren is such an outstanding role model, we are pleased to highlight his support of our students. We are honored by the Gursahaneys’ giving to the department.”

Naren Gursahaney has a long history of service to Penn State. He is a member of the President’s Advisory Board for Philanthropy and is a University Alumni Fellow, the highest honor bestowed by the Penn State Alumni Association. In 2013, he was the College of Engineering's commencement speaker and in 2009, he received the Outstanding Engineering Alumni Award, the college’s highest honor. He also is a member of the Service Enterprise Engineering Advisory Board, and a former member of the College of Engineering Industrial and Professional Advisory Council.

Now retired, Naren Gursahaney served as president, chief executive officer and a director of home security and automation leader at ADT Corporation from 2007 to 2016, when the company was sold to Apollo Global Management. Prior to his appointment at ADT, Gursahaney held numerous leadership roles within Tyco International. He served as president of Tyco Engineered Products and Services, president of Tyco Flow Control, and senior vice president of Operational Excellence. Before his involvement with Tyco, he served four years with global consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton followed by 10 years in leadership roles within General Electric (GE), including president, and previously, vice president of service, of GE Medical Systems Asia. He began his career as an engineer with Westinghouse Electric in the U.S. and Israel.

He serves on NextEra Energy Inc.'s board of directors and on the board of advisers for the Berwind Corporation. In addition to his degree from Penn State, he holds an MBA from the University of Virginia's Darden School of Business.

Support for the E-Knowledge Commons is the Gursahaneys’ fourth major gift to Penn State.

In 2015, they sponsored the Business Experience for Undergraduates (BEU) program in collaboration with the College of Engineering and the Smeal College of Business.  In 2013, they donated $1 million to establish the Naren and Judith Gursahaney Fund for Excellence in Mechanical and Nuclear Engineering and in 2008 they funded the Naren and Judith Gursahaney Trustee Scholarship in the College of Engineering.

The Gursahaneys, who reside in Boca Raton, Florida, have two children, Kayla and Phillip. Kayla graduated from Penn State in 2016 with a bachelor of science in security and risk analysis from the College of Information Science and Technology, and Phillip is currently studying hospitality management.

Two ribbon cutting ceremonies are planned. The PSMES and PSNES Computer Labs will be unveiled 3:30-4:30 p.m. Sunday, August 20, and the main commons/study rooms will be launched 6-7 p.m. Wednesday, September 13, prior to Fall Career Fair activities.

For more information about supporting the E-Knowledge Commons, contact Susan Bohna, major gifts officer, at or 814-865-7378.

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.

  • image of students studying

    An artistic rendering of the new E-Knowledge Commons. Movable furnishings will make for a transformable space that can be shifted easily from one use to another.

    IMAGE: Penn State

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Last Updated June 23, 2017