David and Margaret Gray endow graduate scholarship

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — David Gray, a Penn State senior administrator, and Margaret Gray, a Centre County government leader, have made a commitment of $210,000 to create the first graduate scholarship in Penn State’s new master of public policy program in the College of the Liberal Arts. The fund will benefit students who share the Grays’ commitment to state and local government or nonprofit sector careers. Combined with a University match of $125,000, the couple’s gift will yield a total impact of $335,000.

“The University has created extraordinary opportunities for us and for our many family members who have come here, and we believe it’s important to give back,” said David and Margaret Gray. “We are thrilled to help launch the new master of public policy program through this graduate scholarship, and we look forward to meeting the ambitious students who will enroll in the program — individuals who share our commitment to public sector work as a force for positive change.”

Through an outright commitment of $125,000, the Grays leveraged a 1:1 University match through the recently concluded Graduate Scholarship Matching Program, a featured giving opportunity of the University’s current fundraising campaign, “A Greater Penn State for 21st Century Excellence.” Endowed at $250,000, the David and Margaret Gray Graduate Scholarship will benefit students beginning in the 2019-20 academic year, when the first cohort of master of public policy graduate students will begin the program. The Grays have also committed an additional $85,000 to grow the scholarship endowment further after their lifetimes.

Forty years ago, David and Margaret met in a related Penn State graduate program, the master of public administration program, which was then housed in the College of the Liberal Arts and is now offered through Penn State Harrisburg. David was ahead of Margaret by a semester, but the two shared some of the same classes and many of the same interests. They also shared the same graduate research assistantship named for Robert Mowitz, director of the Institute of Public Administration (David held it first, followed by Margaret).

“As beneficiaries of graduate support ourselves, we understand that many graduate students have lofty professional ambitions but modest financial resources,” they said. “We want to help graduate students interested in public sector careers to pursue their passion for this kind of meaningful, mission-driven work, regardless of their economic circumstances.”

After receiving their master’s degrees in public administration, David and Margaret both began their careers in the governor’s budget office in New Jersey, where Margaret was assigned to human services, and David was assigned to public higher education, an experience which set the trajectory for each of their careers.

For the past 35 years David has worked in public higher education administration, always with an eye toward the intersections between public higher education and state government. He has served as senior vice president for finance and business and treasurer for the University since February 2012. He assumed this role after having served as the chief financial and administrative officer for the five-campus University of Massachusetts system. Prior to that, he served UMass as its first vice president for information technology and concurrently for more than five years as chief executive officer of UMassOnline. He previously served as the vice chancellor for information technology for the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education, following his tenure as assistant vice chancellor for financial management for the same organization. David’s early career included various administrative, policy formulation, and financial management posts for the State of New Jersey and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. 

Margaret Gray has spent her career as a public administrator working for three state governments, as well as leading two statewide trade associations. She currently serves as Centre County’s administrator, a role that she has held since February 2017. Before assuming this position, she served as the University’s first director of local government and community relations. Prior to relocating to Centre County in 2012, she served as an area director for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts’ Department of Developmental Services and held state budgeting positions with the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s Superior Court and the New Jersey State Governor’s Office of the Budget. Margaret has held executive leadership positions with statewide trade associations including the Managed Care Association of Pennsylvania and the Pennsylvania Association of Autism and Intellectual Disabilities. Her portfolio includes extensive experience as a state government relations director representing Fortune 500 companies and not-for-profit organizations before the Pennsylvania General Assembly and executive branch of Pennsylvania government.  

“We both have had deeply rewarding careers serving governments and organizations with public missions, and we owe a debt of gratitude to Penn State for providing us with an excellent educational foundation for this work,” said David and Margaret Gray. “Now, we are delighted to support graduate students who wish to pursue public sector careers of their own, particularly in state or local government, which is a path we feel can yield great good for communities and for people’s lives.”

The master of public policy program in the College of the Liberal Arts will begin accepting applications in fall 2018. The policy program will provide a strong core curriculum and add specialization tracks that will draw heavily from existing courses on issue areas in the College of the Liberal Arts and across the University, including health policy, criminal justice policy, labor and employment policy, children and family policy, international policy, and public policy analysis, among others. Learn more about the new master of public policy program at publicpolicy.psu.edu.

“I am delighted and grateful that David and Margaret have given this generous gift to endow the first graduate scholarship in our new master of public policy program,” said Susan Welch, the Susan Welch Dean of the College of the Liberal Arts and professor of political science. “The students who benefit from David and Margaret’s support will be well positioned to follow in the couple’s footsteps as champions of the common good.”

David and Margaret both hold undergraduate degrees from the University, in addition to their graduate degrees — David in political science and Margaret in rehabilitation education. The couple has two children, Rebecca Gray, who earned a doctorate from Michigan State University, and a son, Peter Gray, who graduated from Penn State’s College of Engineering in 2010 with a degree in industrial engineering and Columbia University with a master of science in engineering and management science. He is married to Alicia Hooper Gray, a 2008 graduate of the College of Health and Human Development. David and Margaret reside in Port Matilda.

This gift from David and Margaret Gray 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 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 greaterpennstate.psu.edu.

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Last Updated September 18, 2018