University celebrates early success of 'Greater Penn State' campaign

April 24, 2018

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Nearly 1,200 Penn State donors, fundraising volunteers, and friends gathered in the Bryce Jordan Center on Friday, April 20, to celebrate the early success of "A Greater Penn State for 21st Century Excellence," a University-wide effort to raise $1.6 billion by 2021. With 36 percent of the campaign elapsed to date, the University has raised 41.2 percent of the campaign goal, or $659,865,357.

“'A Greater Penn State' is about elevating Penn State’s position as a leading public university in the 21st century,” Penn State President Eric Barron said. “This means opening our doors to students from every economic background and enabling them to stay on track toward graduation, creating transformative experiences that go well beyond the classroom, and extending our ability to impact the world through discovery, innovation and entrepreneurship.”

The University will measure the success of the campaign by its ability to fulfill these three imperatives: Open Doors, Create Transformative Experiences and Impact the World.

University matching programs, which have enabled donors to multiply the impact of their gifts, have aided these early successes. Launched on July 1, 2017, the programs include the Open Doors Scholarship Program, the Graduate Scholarship Matching Program, the First-Time Endowed Scholarship Donor Matching Program and more. While the Graduate Scholarship Matching Program will end June 30, 2018, the Open Doors Scholarship Program will continue in a modified form and the First-Time Endowed Scholarship Donor Matching Program will continue unchanged through the end of the campaign in 2021, or until the University’s matching funds have been expended (whichever comes first).

Fundraising totals during the early part of the campaign have set several records for the University, explained O. Richard Bundy III, Penn State’s vice president for development and alumni relations, as he described what it will take to sustain this progress moving forward. 

“In order to stay on track toward raising $1.6 billion by 2021, we will need to sustain fundraising totals of more than $320 million every year for five consecutive years. This feat has never before been achieved at Penn State,” Bundy said. “We met this ambitious mark last fiscal year, and we are aspiring to repeat this achievement as we approach the end of the fiscal year on June 30. We are working hard to hit these numbers, but most importantly our alumni, friends and corporate partners are stepping forward with great generosity.”

Fundraising progress has been fueled by gifts from the campaign’s top donors, which include:

  • Schlumberger, Penn State’s 2017 Corporate Partner of the Year, which has made major gifts of software to benefit the colleges of Engineering and Earth and Mineral Sciences;
  • Donald and Vivienne Bellisario, who committed $30 million to the Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications;
  • Highmark Health, which made a $25 million grant to help Penn State Health advance cancer research and care;
  • John “Jack” McWhirter and Jeanette Dachille McWhirter, who committed $21.1 million to the John R. and Jeanette Dachille McWhirter Graduate Program in Chemical Engineering and areas across the University;
  • and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which committed $17.2 million to support global health research initiatives across the University. 

Campaign Chair Rick Sokolov said, “The numbers we’re seeing so far in the campaign are extraordinary, but the real measure of our success will be the Penn State students who, thanks to our donors’ support, will be empowered to become leaders in their fields and citizens of the world, and the Penn State faculty who will have the resources they need to lead the way in research on human health; food, water and energy security; the arts and humanities and more.”

Penn State donors witnessed this potential during the April 20 event celebrating the early success of the campaign, dubbed “An Evening of Discovery.” The event was held in a transformed Bryce Jordan Center, with live performances by Penn State’s musical theatre program, the Blue Band and the Nittany Lion. Guests heard from Penn State students and faculty and learned how their philanthropy can help the University to have an even bigger impact within the Commonwealth and around the globe.

With two years of the campaign nearly elapsed and three to go, Penn State has reason to celebrate, but must also remain focused on the overall goal and vision of the campaign, explained Barron.

“With the excellent progress we have achieved in the ‘Greater Penn State’ campaign so far, we are well on our way to achieving our vision of excellence. We can and should celebrate our progress, yet we still have more work to do,” Barron said. “I greatly appreciate the tireless efforts of our volunteers, staff and campaign leadership in getting us this far, and look forward to successfully achieving our goals to benefit Penn State, the Commonwealth and beyond.”  

To learn more about "A Greater Penn State for 21st Century Excellence," visit

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated April 24, 2018