Major gifts benefit College of Ag Sciences entrepreneurship and innovation

Susan Burlingame
November 10, 2017

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — The Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences today (Nov. 10) announced two $1 million gifts to endow positions in its Entrepreneurship and Innovation (E&I) Program. Both gifts have received matching funds from the University.

Through E&I, the College of Agricultural Sciences is a leading partner in Invent Penn State, a Commonwealth-wide initiative spearheaded by Penn State President Eric Barron to drive job creation, economic development and student career success by helping researchers and students transform their ideas and projects into market-ready products and services. Invent Penn State is one of the highest priorities in A Greater Penn State for 21st Century Excellence, the University's five-year, $1.6 billion fundraising campaign.

Announced during the College of Agricultural Sciences' E&I Showcase, which highlighted promising student and faculty business start-ups and innovative research projects, the recent gifts to E&I came from two long-time supporters of the program.

Earl Harbaugh, of The Villages, Florida, a 1961 Penn State graduate with a degree in agriculture, and his wife, Kay, have added $750,000 to a previous gift of $250,000 in order to endow the Harbaugh Entrepreneur and Innovation Faculty Scholar in the College of Agricultural Sciences. The University matched the Harbaugh gift by adding an additional $750,000 to the endowment. Harbaugh is founder and retired chief executive officer of Ditch Witch Midwest, a highly successful underground construction equipment company.

With their $1 million gift, to which the University contributed $1 million in matching funds, John and Patty Warehime have endowed the John and Patty Warehime Entrepreneur in Residence in the College of Agricultural Sciences. A 1964 graduate of the college, John Warehime is chairman of the board of Hanover Foods.

He and his wife have contributed generously to Penn State's athletics program, the Blue Band, the Agricultural Sciences Future Fund, and the Alan R. Warehime Professor of Agribusiness endowment, created by John's father. C. Daniel Azzara, director of entrepreneurship and innovation in the College of Agricultural Sciences, currently holds this professorship.

The John and Patty Warehime Entrepreneur in Residence will use their experience as an entrepreneur, venture capitalist or technology transfer liaison to improve the quantity and quality of commercially relevant technology being developed by research programs in the College. They will educate faculty, postdoctoral scholars and graduate students about intellectual property and technology transfer and identify potential industry sponsors and investors, among other responsibilities.

"We are excited to see the College of Agricultural Sciences' Entrepreneurship and Innovation program continue to grow in importance," said John Warehime. "With the University's matching gift program, my wife and I felt it was the right time to contribute to this vital initiative."

The Harbaugh Entrepreneur and Innovation Faculty Scholar will support entrepreneurial and innovation efforts through coursework, forums and student and/or faculty engagement opportunities; activities related to commercializing and innovating research within the College of Agricultural Sciences; and mentoring, networking, professional development and contact management for the college's students, faculty and alumni. Mark Gagnon, entrepreneurship coordinator in the College of Agricultural Sciences, is the current Harbaugh Entrepreneurship Scholar.

"Agriculture and entrepreneurship have always been intertwined," said Earl Harbaugh, adding that farmers were, in his opinion, the original entrepreneurs. "Entrepreneurship makes our country strong by creating jobs and allowing businesses to flourish and drive the economy. Kay and I were delighted to be able to endow this position, and we trust that others will see the value of investing in a college-wide and University-wide commitment to extending research and innovative ideas to the market."

The Harbaugh's first philanthropic contact with the college was through its scholarship program. In addition to their most recent gift, they have made other generous gifts supporting E&I as well as the college's food science department, international programs, the Excellence in Teaching and Learning Faculty Scholars Program, and many other college and University initiatives. In 2013, they endowed the Harbaugh Family Trustee Scholarship in the College of Agricultural Sciences.

"Entrepreneurship and innovation is the modern-day mission of a land-grant institution," said President Barron. "The Harbaughs and the Warehimes are both champions of this concept. They know our economic vitality as a University and a Commonwealth depends on our ability to transform ideas and research into marketable products and services. Their generous gifts will inspire students and faculty to take their work to the next level."

Said Rick Roush, dean of the College of Agricultural Sciences, "We are so grateful to the Harbaughs and the Warehimes for believing and investing in the power of entrepreneurship and innovation in the college. Through our Research Applications for Innovation grant program, our robust entrepreneurship minor program, student competitions and more, the college is extending the University's expertise and impact to all of Pennsylvania and far beyond."

Gifts from Penn State’s alumni and friends 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, the University has begun "A Greater Penn State for 21st Century Excellence," a fast-paced campaign focused on the three key imperatives of a public university. Private support will keep the door 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, please visit

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Last Updated November 13, 2017