Donato family establishes Open Doors Honors Scholarship

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — When she was a student at Penn State, Kathryn Wiggins Donato saw a close friend from high school struggle to find financial aid after her father lost his job.

Several years later, Donato and her husband, William Donato, will help to make sure future Penn State Schreyer Honors College students receive support if they encounter similar situations. With their creation of the Donato Family Open Doors Honors Scholarship, their $250,000 gift — which the University matched 2:1 for a total scholarship endowment of $750,000 — will support Schreyer Scholars who meet requirements for need through the Complete Penn State program.

“I think the amazing thing about the Open Doors Scholarship is that it’s taking students that have already had success at Penn State and that are working hard and trying to advance, and then because of all sorts of circumstances come up to a roadblock,” she said. “And we’re so thankful to be able to help students such as these complete their degree.”

The Donatos met during a Greek leadership conference. Bill, who graduated from Penn State with degrees in finance and economics, was an Interfraternity Council president, and Kate, who graduated with a degree in human development and family studies, was later president of the Panhellenic Council.

Bill was in the honors program at Penn State, and credits some advice he received from William A. Schreyer with helping him to develop his leadership abilities.

“He pushed you to always be aggressive and confident in what you were going to do,” he said. “He challenged me as a junior, when I was coming into the IFC president, to reach outside my comfort zone. So I became involved in other organizations outside the Greek system, and it was tough, but he helped me immensely.”

The Donatos previously established the William and Kathryn Donato Trustee Scholarship and the Donato Family Honors Scholarship, which support Schreyer Scholars in the College of Health and Human Development and the Smeal College of Business. Bill is currently a member of the Schreyer Honors College’s External Advisory Board and enjoys following the accomplishments and activities of current students.

“I don’t think there’s anything like it at any other university,” he said. “It’s amazing to watch these students get together, whether it’s a business background or an engineering background or computer science, they come together and they bring those different disciplines and a different way of approaching a problem. It’s the problem-solving they do together that is so impressive.

“I think it really elevates all of us, the fact that we have this link to each of the colleges and to bring students in there, attract them to our University, and have them do the groundbreaking studies and the research they do. … I think it makes our whole University better.”

Open Doors Scholarships are part of “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 greaterpennstate.psu.edu.

Last Updated August 16, 2018