Barron recaps fundraising success, shares vision for new philanthropy campaign

July 24, 2017

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Penn State’s new philanthropic campaign, “A Greater Penn State for 21st Century Excellence,” which kicked off in summer 2016, has experienced a successful inaugural year, raising more than $350 million in commitments, according to University President Eric Barron.

The president, who presented a first-year update to the Board of Trustees (July 21), said the five-year campaign effort has a goal of maintaining sustained annual giving of more than $300 million and aligns with Penn State’s strategic plan and focuses on three objectives to open doors through access and affordability, create transformative experiences for students, and impact the world.

“We’ve initiated this campaign to fulfill the University’s historic land-grant mission to serve the public good, while ushering in a new era of rapid change and global connections,” Barron said. “The support of our friends and alumni is an integral component in keeping the door to higher education open and to enable students to graduate on time; create transformative experiences that tap the full potential of Penn Staters to make a difference; and impact the world through discovery, innovation and entrepreneurship.”

Philanthropic campaigns have always played an integral role throughout Penn State’s history, and this campaign is designed to create a sustained annual level of giving significantly above the last campaign, according to Barron.

Between 2007 and 2014, “For the Future: The Campaign for Penn State Students” raised nearly $2.2 billion, while two previous campaigns — “A Grand Destiny” and “The Campaign for Penn State” — raised $1.37 billion and $300 million, respectively.

“This year alone we’ve seen a 6 percent increase in alumni donors, which is a strong reflection of support at a time when many other institutions are seeing significant decreases in alumni donors,” Barron said. “Our focus is on how we can make our great University even greater and, unlike the typical philanthropy campaign model in higher education, we’re focusing this one on themes related to our strategic plan to help Penn State fulfill its highest potential to serve the Commonwealth and society at large through excellence in education, student success and economic development.”

The three main strategies around which the campaign is organized are:

—Opening doors to bring talented students from every background to Penn State — and help them to graduate on time and on track to have successful careers and lives.

—Creating transformative experiences that enable students and faculty to discover their full potential and make a difference — in Penn State’s classrooms, campuses and in the larger world.

—Impacting the world by tackling and solving society’s most pressing problems.

“Philanthropy will help the University advance a host of strategic goals — whether it’s our continued focus on access and affordability, supporting innovation and entrepreneurship across the state, or investing in the ambition and talent of our emerging faculty stars,” Barron said.

To encourage high levels of giving across each of the three themes, Penn State launched seven new matching programs that address special interests such as entrepreneurship and economic development, as well as gifts from specific groups, including first-time donors and University leaders.

For example, the new Open Doors Scholarship Matching Program — which aligns with the campaign’s open doors theme and is available through June 30, 2018 — is a 2:1 match for the creation of scholarships that benefit students enrolled in specific pilot programs that help students earn degrees, reduce debt and excel at Penn State.

The University also will match gifts for the six other programs, including the First-Time Donor Endowed Scholarship Matching Program, Faculty Endowment Challenge: Early Career Professorship Matching Program, Graduate Scholarship Matching Program, Leadership Gift Matching Program, Economic Development Incentive Matching Program, and the LaunchBox Matching Program.

During his remarks to the board, Barron also highlighted top donors and gifts from throughout the year, including Donald Bellisario, a TV legend and alumnus, who committed $30 million to support communications students and faculty to endow the Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications and establish a state-of-the-art media center; the Penn State Alumni Association for its $1.5 million pledge in scholarship support to students; Ira Lubert, alumnus and immediate past chair of the Penn State Board of Trustees, for his $5 million gift with $500,000 for Open Doors Scholarships; and donors Jack and Jeanette McWhirter, the University’s 2017 Philanthropists of the Year, for their $10 million gift to support the graduate program in the Department of Chemical Engineering.

In addition, Barron thanked biopharmaceutical company CSL Behring for its recently announced gift of $4.9 million for a new fermentation lab at the University.

“We want this campaign to touch on issues that are meaningful and important to our donors. We still have a lot of work to do, but so far contributions have been extremely generous,” Barron said. “Ongoing commitments from friends and alumni will enable the University to fulfill its vision for the future and ultimately help students receive an exceptional education at Penn State, white furthering our ability to have a positive impact across the Commonwealth and the world.”

For a look at the President’s full presentation, visit:

  • Penn State President Eric Barron in front of Old Main on April 22, 2016.

    Penn State President Eric Barron in front of Old Main on April 22, 2016.

    IMAGE: Penn State
Last Updated September 04, 2020