Scholarship hopes to inspire future leaders in career and life

October 19, 2017

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Penn State alumni David and Rita Kiser created the David M. and Rita C. Kiser Scholarship in the College of Health and Human Development with the hope that future Penn State graduates will have a positive impact on others — in their chosen careers and in life.

The Kisers are participating in the University's new First-Time Endowed Scholarship Donor Matching Program, a featured giving opportunity of the University-wide fundraising campaign, "A Greater Penn State for 21st Century Excellence." The Kisers said they were inspired to create the gift because of their positive experiences at Penn State, both through the education they received and the connections they continue to foster.

“We had a great experience at Penn State,” said Rita Kiser. “We achieved great careers because of Penn State. We felt very prepared by the education we got here. Penn State helped us in our lives and we want to make sure others have that same experience.”

After graduating from college in Michigan, the Kisers worked as school teachers, and David Kiser coached track and cross country teams. With a strong interest in the science of exercise and sport, and his wife’s encouragement, he applied for and was accepted into Penn State’s graduate exercise physiology program in what was then called the College of Health, Physical Education and Recreation, now the College of Health and Human Development. He earned master and doctoral degrees through the program.

During those years, Rita Kiser taught third grade in Philipsburg and studied part-time at Penn State. She earned her Master of Education in developmental and remedial reading. Her passion for teaching grew, inspired by her Penn State academic program, faculty and fellow classmates.

"I am grateful to David and Rita for remembering their Penn State experience in this special way," said Ann C. Crouter, Raymond E. and Erin Stuart Schultz Dean of the College of Health and Human Development. "This scholarship will make a real difference for current and future HHD students at a critical time on their educational journey."

After completing their Penn State degrees, the Kisers moved to Rochester, New York, where David Kiser began a 28-year career at Eastman Kodak Company.

Rita taught grades 3rd through 5th for the Greece Central School District until her retirement in 2010, having taught for 28 years. The Kisers raised their two children, Jared and Julie, in Rochester. They later moved to Memphis, Tennessee, when Dave Kiser became the vice president of environment, health, safety and sustainability for International Paper.

“In addition to excellent academic programs, Penn State offers an education that emphasizes the importance of ethics, integrity, and the power of diversity of thought and inclusion,” David Kiser said. “These foundational values are critical for success at work and in life. We feel fortunate to be Penn State alumni and would like to help others have the educational experience of their lifetime.”

Donors establishing their first endowed scholarship for undergraduates with financial need will see their gift permanently matched 1:1 by the University. This will double the endowment principal and the funds available to eligible students in perpetuity. This opportunity is available through June 30, 2021, or until available matching funds have been expended.

Gifts like the David M. and Rita C. Kiser Scholarship have been essential to the success of the University’s historic land-grant mission to serve the public good. To fulfill that mission for a new era of rapid change and global connections, "A Greater Penn State for 21st Century Excellence" is focused on the three key imperatives of a public university. Private support will keep the doors to higher education open and enable students to graduate on time and on track to success; create transformative experiences on Penn State campuses and around the globe that tap the full potential of Penn Staters to make a difference; and impact the world through discovery, innovation and entrepreneurship.

To learn more, visit or contact Kathleen Rider, director of development in the College of Health and Human Development, at 814-863-1064 or

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated December 18, 2017