Eric and Molly Barron announce gifts to 'A Greater Penn State' campaign

May 22, 2018

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Penn State President Eric Barron and his wife, Molly Barron, are advancing the University’s current fundraising campaign, “A Greater Penn State for 21st Century Excellence,” not only through their vision for Penn State’s future, but also as donors themselves.

The Barrons recently made a commitment to create two new funds in support of the campaign. The Alice Battistini Open Doors Scholarship will support one of President Barron’s signature initiatives, the Open Doors Scholarship Program, and the Staff Excellence Award will benefit high-achieving Penn State employees. The gifts reflect President Barron’s institutional priorities, as well as the couple’s personal passions.

“The two of us take great pleasure in helping bright, hardworking students succeed regardless of circumstance and in helping celebrate the tremendous efforts of our staff in supporting this university,” Eric and Molly Barron said.

Created with a commitment of $30,000 and named in honor of the Barrons’ granddaughter, the Alice Battistini Open Doors Scholarship will support students in any of the University’s Open Doors programs, a set of initiatives President Barron has championed to help students overcome the financial, academic and personal challenges they face in earning their degrees. First preference for the scholarship will be given to students enrolled in the Pathway to Success: Summer Start (PaSSS) program, which helps entering students make the transition to a Commonwealth campus other than University Park in the summer before their first year, learning skills, establishing connections and earning credits that will help them to graduate on time.

The Barrons’ gift will leverage a 2:1 University match — or $60,000 — through the Open Doors Scholarship Program, tripling the impact of their scholarship on Penn State students. President Barron launched this program in July 2017 with a significant institutional investment to encourage private support for need-based undergraduate scholarships. To date, donors have created 260 Open Doors Scholarships with gifts totaling more than $14.2 million, for an overall impact of more than $42.6 million. The University match for Open Doors Scholarships will continue in its current form through June 30, 2018.

“Eric and Molly Barron have been champions of access and affordability for Penn State students, making these critical issues central to the ‘Greater Penn State’ campaign and to the consciousness of our donors,” said O. Richard Bundy III, vice president for development and alumni relations. “The Open Doors Scholarship Program itself is evidence of the Barrons’ commitment to ensuring that students from every economic background have access to a true and timely Penn State experience. With this gift to create an Open Doors Scholarship of their own, Eric and Molly are demonstrating that access and affordability are not only institutional priorities — they are also personal ones, too.”

The Barrons have committed an additional $35,000 to endow the Staff Excellence Award. The new award will recognize and reward full-time University staff who demonstrate integrity, respect and excellence in all aspects of their position. Recipients of the award will be selected each year by the University Staff Advisory Council in consultation with the vice president for human resources and will receive a cash award. While the Barrons’ commitment will ultimately fund the award in perpetuity, they have committed an additional $6,000 to ensure that staff can begin receiving the award right away, as soon as this year.  

“The Barrons have a deep appreciation for the good work Penn State staff do day in and day out to help keep this University running — often behind the scenes and without thanks,” said Mary Beahm, interim vice president for human resources. “I am grateful to Eric and Molly Barron for creating the Staff Excellence Award, which will allow the University to recognize and celebrate exceptional service and performance.” 

The Barrons said they hope that other University leaders, faculty, staff and alumni will consider joining them in supporting the Staff Excellence Award endowment.

Eric and Molly Barron have previously made gifts in support of the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences, The Arboretum at Penn State, Four Diamonds, the Renaissance Fund, the Palmer Museum of Art, and the Trustee Matching Scholarship Program, as well as other areas across the University. They have two adult children, Jim, 33, and Emily, 35.

These gifts from Eric and Molly Barron will advance "A Greater Penn State for 21st Century Excellence," a focused campaign that seeks to elevate Penn State’s position as a leading public university in a world defined by rapid change and global connections. With the support of alumni and friends, “A Greater Penn State” seeks to fulfill the three key imperatives of a 21st century public university: keeping the doors to higher education open to hardworking students regardless of financial well-being; creating transformative experiences that go beyond the classroom; and impacting the world by fueling discovery, innovation and entrepreneurship. To learn more about “A Greater Penn State for 21st Century Excellence,” visit

  • Eric and Molly Barron

    Eric and Molly Barron recently made a commitment to create two new funds in support of the "Greater Penn State" campaign, the Alice Battistini Open Doors Scholarship and the Staff Excellence Award. 

    IMAGE: Penn State

(Media Contacts)

O. Richard Bundy III, Vice President for Development and Alumni Relations

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Last Updated December 06, 2019