DeGrandis create named professorship with $500,000 estate gift to Liberal Arts

August 16, 2018

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Penn State alumnus Bill DeGrandis, 1977 political science, understands and appreciates the fundamental values of excellence, integrity and leadership that a liberal arts education nurture. As an attorney practicing in the energy regulatory and transactions area and as a partner with Paul Hastings LLC — a law firm with offices throughout the world, including Washington, D.C., where Bill is based — he has been putting his communication, analytical thinking and ethical decision-making skills to good use nearly every day for more than 30 years.

As an alumnus of the College of the Liberal Arts, DeGrandis also appreciates the Penn State professors who helped him develop those core skills and values as a student. He and his wife, Monica, want to help make sure future students at the University have those core liberal arts skills and values instilled in them, too — which is the motivation for their recent $500,000 estate commitment to support outstanding Penn State liberal arts faculty.

The couple’s gift is being matched dollar-for-dollar by the college’s Tracy and Ted McCourtney Endowed Professorship Matching Gift Program, which allows the college to activate the endowment immediately — even before the estate gift has been realized — to establish the William and Monica DeGrandis-McCourtney Early Career Professorship in the College of the Liberal Arts. Upon receipt of the DeGrandis’ estate gift, the early career professorship will be converted to the William and Monica DeGrandis McCourtney Professorship, a fully endowed named professorship. Holders of the early career professorship, and eventually the endowed full professorship, will be scholars of American government and will teach courses focused on the executive, legislative or judicial branches of American government.

“Monica and I are very pleased and excited to move forward with establishing this endowed professorship,” Bill DeGrandis said. “My liberal arts courses at Penn State, and my political science courses in particular, underscored the need to be objective and helped me forge my critical analytical skills. That, in turn, provided a great foundation for my law school education and for my career as an attorney in a private law firm.

“This is our opportunity to help Penn State attract and retain political science professors who can help guide students through a similar approach.”

The DeGrandis’ most recent gift is their latest philanthropic gesture in support of the college and its programs. They made a significant gift to help establish the Jeff and Sharon Hyde/Political Science Board of Visitors’ Early Career Professorship, which is currently held by Michael Nelson. They had previously committed part of their estate to establish the DeGrandis Family Undergraduate Scholarship and the William and Monica DeGrandis Early Career Professorship in Political Science. With the additional estate gift described above, two professorships will be endowed upon receipt of the estate: the DeGrandis-McCourtney Professorship in the College of the Liberal Arts and the DeGrandis Early Career Professorship in Political Science.

Bill has also served on the college’s Political Science Board of Visitors since its founding in 2003, and he has sponsored internships and full-time employment opportunities for liberal arts students in his law firm. Bill and Monica have attended student and alumni events in the D.C. metro area; they have also hosted student and alumni dinners at Bill’s office in Washington and in their home in Great Falls, Virginia. Beyond the college, Bill served as chair of his college fraternity’s successful capital campaign, which resulted in a $1.7 million renovation of the Phi Sigma Kappa fraternity house in State College.

“I am grateful to Bill and Monica for their foresighted philanthropy, which will benefit the department and its students for generations to come,” said Susan Welch, dean of the Penn State College of the Liberal Arts. “This generous gift will enable us to attract and retain great scholars and teachers of American government, a field that will continue to be of great importance to our students and the field of political science. I also continue to be appreciative of the McCourtney’s generosity in establishing their matching program.”

The DeGrandis’ and McCourtney’s ongoing support helps to 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 hard-working 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

  • Bill and Monica DeGrandis

    Monica and Bill ('77, political science) DeGrandis

    IMAGE: College of the Liberal Arts

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated August 30, 2018