Penn State philanthropists honor Anna Griswold by naming ag sciences scholarship

April 24, 2018

UNIVERSITY PARK, PA — “This story should be about Anna Griswold more than about us,” said Penn State business alumnus Tom Sharbaugh, professor of practice and director of the entrepreneurship program in Penn State Law.  

After a 48-year career helping students, 27 of which she spent at Penn State, Anna Griswold recently retired as assistant vice president for undergraduate education and executive director for student aid.

To honor Griswold and her impact on students’ lives, Sharbaugh and his wife, Kristin Hayes, recently created the Anna M. Griswold Open Doors Scholarship in the College of Agricultural Sciences—the college where they had created an internship program years earlier.

The Griswold scholarship is part of Penn State’s current fundraising campaign, “A Greater Penn State for 21st Century Excellence.” The couple took advantage of a 2:1 University match, which ultimately triples the value of their initial $50,000 investment.

“We were looking for another opportunity to help students, and we know the University emphasizes helping students graduate in four years,” said Sharbaugh, who serves on the executive committee for the “Greater Penn State” campaign as well as several university and nonuniversity advisory boards. “When the University announced its matching program, creating a scholarship was a no-brainer for us.”

Long-time volunteers and supporters of Penn State, Sharbaugh and Hayes have focused much of their philanthropy on helping students through job programs, internships, scholarships, and other avenues. “We like doing traditional as well as nontraditional gifts,” said Sharbaugh.

In 2011, he and Hayes established the Microfinance Match Loan Fund, for which they provided a 2:1 match, up to a total of $100,000 in matching support, for any gifts to the fund. The fund is used to make small, low-interest loans to undergraduates facing extraordinary and unexpected challenges in earning their degrees.

“We needed a way to set up the loans, and Rod Kirsch [retired senior vice president for Development and Alumni Relations at Penn State] introduced us to Anna,” said Sharbaugh. “She not only embraced the program but also adapted it for the whole University, helping hundreds of students along the way. We worked on the fundraising, and Anna handled everything else.”

Added Hayes, “Anna is one of the most inspiring people we’ve ever met. She was always so caring and concerned about every individual student. When students would find themselves extremely close to not being able to finish a semester due to finances, Anna would make sure they didn’t fall through the cracks.”

Penn State Extension served as the entrée into the College of Agricultural Sciences for Sharbaugh and Hayes, who sought volunteer opportunities after retiring from their respective law practices in Philadelphia. They volunteered for extension and eventually funded a recurring Philadelphia-based internship for students to work for extension over the summer in an urban environment.

“We know firsthand the difference extension makes to youth, families and businesses in Philadelphia,” said Sharbaugh. “It’s a true reflection of the original land-grant mission of the University, which has evolved to deal with 21st-century issues.”

“When the College of Ag Sciences development staff phoned to inform me that Tom and Kristin wanted to endow an Open Doors Scholarship in my name, I was deeply touched,” remarked Griswold. “Throughout my career, I always thought of student aid and scholarships as a key to opening doors of opportunity for students in need. Those doors were opened for me when I was a young college student, and it made all the difference in my life. I've never forgotten that. My belief that a college education should not be denied simply because one lacks the means to pay is a belief that I see Tom and Kristin's philanthropy supporting; a belief that we share in common. I am both grateful and humbled by Tom and Kristin's recognition and generosity.”

“Tom and Kristin’s Open Doors Scholarship honoring Anna Griswold is a testament to their longstanding commitment to making a Penn State education accessible to students,” said Rick Roush, dean of the Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences. “By endowing their scholarship in the College of Agricultural Sciences, they are endorsing our role in helping the University fulfill its land-grant mission. We are extremely grateful for their generosity.”

“Penn State is special to me because it gave me numerous opportunities to gain the confidence to believe that despite coming from a small town in a rural area, I could compete with anyone anywhere,” said Sharbaugh. “I owe it to Penn State to help give future students the opportunities that I had.”

“Ultimately, we want people to know how great Anna Griswold is,” he continued. “By establishing the scholarship, we are fulfilling two of our goals: to honor Anna Griswold and to make a Penn State education affordable for students in the College of Agricultural Sciences.”

When Griswold retired at the end of March 2018, many expressed a wish to honor her. A letter drafted for those who inquire reads: “Anna was recently surprised and delighted to learn that her friends and long-time Penn State supporters, Tom Sharbaugh and Kristin Hayes, decided to honor her by establishing a scholarship in her name… Anna has asked that you consider making a gift to the Anna W. Griswold Open Doors Scholarship if you were planning to offer a gift in honor of her retirement from Penn State. She, and the students it helps, would be deeply grateful.”

The Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences represents the foundation of Penn State and its 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: Open Doors, Create Transformative Experiences, and Impact the World. Through teaching, research and extension, and because of generous alumni and friends, the College of Agricultural Sciences is able to offer scholarships to one in four students, create life-shaping opportunities, and make a difference in the world by fueling discovery, innovation and entrepreneurship. To learn more, visit


  • Anna Griswold

    Anna Griswold recently retired as assistant vice president for undergraduate education and executive director for student aid. A scholarship was named in her honor.

    IMAGE: Penn State

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Last Updated April 26, 2018