Penn State raises a record-setting $362.9 million during 2017-18 fiscal year

July 17, 2018

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Through a campaign focused on Penn State’s impact on the lives of students and in the larger world, the University has achieved the strongest fundraising results in its history during the just-concluded fiscal year. Between July 1, 2017, and June 30, 2018, Penn State alumni, friends, parents, students, grateful patients and other supporters committed $362.9 million to Penn State’s five-year fundraising effort, “A Greater Penn State for 21st Century Excellence.”

Since the campaign began on June 30, 2016, the University has raised more than $713 million, or more than 44 percent of its $1.6 billion campaign goal.

“We extend our heartfelt gratitude to those who have contributed to our campaign and are helping to create a better future for our students, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the world,” said Eric J. Barron, Penn State president. “The campaign is tied to key priorities of the University’s strategic plan, which envisions Penn State as a global leader in areas ranging from energy, food and water security, to human health. With the partnership of our alumni and friends, we are committed to fulfilling our mission as a land-grant University and affirming our role as a truly outstanding public institution.”

This year’s fundraising totals break several existing University records for private giving in a single fiscal year. The $362.9 million raised this fiscal year has set a new record for commitments (new gifts and pledges that will be fulfilled in the future), beating out the previous record of $353.2 million raised in fiscal year 2010-11. The University also smashed the record for receipts (or cash in the door), having collected more than $322.7 million from its supporters. The previous record of $274.8 million was also set in fiscal year 2010-11.

“Penn State donors are inspired by the vision of ‘A Greater Penn State for 21st Century Excellence,’ which is to elevate Penn State’s status as a leading public university in the 21st century,” said O. Richard Bundy III, vice president for development and alumni relations. “Our supporters have seen the campaign’s potential to fulfill the three core imperatives of a great public university — open doors, create transformative experiences and impact the world — and they want to seize this opportunity to make a difference for students, communities and the world.”

To encourage donors to support key priorities that are at the core of this campaign, Penn State offered matching dollars for specific initiatives. The response from donors was strong, with 317 newly created scholarships supporting one of Barron’s top priorities, the Open Doors initiative. Open Doors Scholarships will be directed to students participating in programs offering financial aid, mentoring and counseling, and other support to help them graduate on time and reduce their educational debt. A 2:1 match from University funds tripled the impact of these gifts, creating a total of $50.9 million in endowed support. While the 2:1 match is no longer available, alumni and friends will be able to secure a 1:1 match for similar gifts through the campaign’s end on June 30, 2021. Other matching programs will continue to encourage campaign gifts from first-time scholarship donors and from alumni and friends with the ability to create endowments at the $1 million level and higher to support students with financial need.

Through the campaign, the University also is partnering with donors in supporting economic development and entrepreneurship throughout the Commonwealth. The University offered $1 million in matching funds to Penn State’s 21 innovation hubs across Pennsylvania whose general operating endowment reached $1 million in gifts. So far, two donors have stepped forward with gifts of $1 million to name “Happy Valley LaunchBox, Powered by PNC Bank” and “The Hite Family LaunchBox for Innovation at Penn State Altoona,” both of which the University matched 1:1. The innovation hubs are a flagship program of Invent Penn State, and provide the public free co-working spaces, accelerator programs, legal and intellectual property advice and micro grants. In its first year, the program launched 79 startups, created 80 new products and served more than 1,000 entrepreneurs.

“To be ‘A Greater Penn State,’ the University must help our students and our communities to succeed in a rapidly changing world,” said Rich Bundy. “By investing in the campaign’s priorities, from making higher education more affordable to creating economic prosperity to building global connections, Penn State’s donors are having an impact that will go far beyond our campuses.”

Campaign chair Rick Sokolov and his wife, Susan Sokolov, were among the more than 221,700 donors who made a commitment to Penn State this fiscal year. The Sokolovs’ $8.3 million campaign pledge to multiple designations, including a lead gift to endow the Sokolov-Miller Family Financial and Life Skills Center, was announced in April.

“Susan and I made this gift out of a profound sense of thanks for all that Penn State has given to us and our families over the years, and because we responded strongly to President Barron’s call for donors to help support students understand and better navigate the complex funding structure for college education,” Sokolov said. “We wanted to do our part to help ensure that hard-working, smart students could pursue a Penn State degree even if their financial situation seemed to be a barrier to higher education.”

Other landmark gifts in 2017-18 include:

  • a $46.8 million gift of software from Schlumberger, Penn State’s 2017 Corporate Partner of the Year, to benefit the Colleges of Engineering and Earth and Mineral Sciences;
  • a $25 million grant from Highmark to advance efforts to secure National Cancer Institute designation for Penn State’s Cancer Institute; and
  • a $5.5 million commitment from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to support global health research initiatives.

“At every level, gifts from Penn State’s supporters are encouraging students and faculty to pursue the opportunities that will change their future and ours,” said Sokolov. “We are grateful to our donors for supporting these programs with such generosity over the past year, and we hope to continue this extraordinary momentum in the year ahead.”

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

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated December 06, 2018