Dinner honors Tom and Sara Songer, raises $243,000 for Renaissance Scholarships

November 09, 2018

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Penn State's 42nd annual Renaissance Fund dinner on Nov. 8 at The Penn Stater Conference Center Hotel honored Tom Songer, a civil engineer and entrepreneur, and Sara Songer, a retired nurse and educator, both graduates of the University and longtime leaders in the State College community. Attended by 422 guests, the dinner raised more than $243,000 for endowed scholarships.

Tom and Sara Songer

Tom and Sara Songer, 2018 Penn State Renaissance Fund Honorees

IMAGE: Penn State

"Sara and I are deeply honored to have been recognized as Renaissance Fund honorees and to join an esteemed group of local leaders whom we admire for their contributions to our community,” said Tom Songer. “Even more so, we are delighted that the Thomas and Sara Songer Family Renaissance Fund will enable talented students with financial need to receive a Penn State education, so that one day they can make their own mark on their communities.”

The annual Renaissance Fund dinner raises funds for Renaissance Scholarships, which are awarded to academically talented Penn State students who have great financial need. The dinners honor community leaders, and contributions are used to endow scholarships in their names. Since the Renaissance Fund's inception in 1969, the total endowment has grown to more than $15.9 million. This year, 662 Renaissance Fund scholarships have been awarded to Penn State students.

With a bachelor of science degree in civil engineering from Penn State (1970), Tom Songer has been a leader in creating different business ventures relating to engineering, construction and land development in the Centre Region. He became co-owner of Uni-Tec, a consulting engineering business specializing in land development and municipal projects and material testing, early in his career. As a registered professional engineer, he has been involved in the design of many high-profile projects, including Cato Park, Stonebridge, Chestnut Ridge, The Landings, Saybrook, Chestnut Ridge Manor, Ferguson Square, Haymarket, Huntridge Manor, Aspen Heights, Kalman Corporate Centre, Torron Office Centre and the CATO Office Centre in Ferguson Township; Springfield Commons in Boalsburg; and Wiltree, Stearns Crossing, Thompson Woods and Buchanan Centre in College Township. He is the founder and president of the Torron Group, which develops and owns both residential and non-residential projects.

Sara Songer holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in nursing from Penn State (1972 and 1978). Her nursing career included many staff, supervisory and administrative positions at Centre Community Hospital and continued through its growth into Mount Nittany Medical Center, from which she retired as a Performance Improvement Nurse and Clinical Coordinator in 2011. She has taught in clinical and management programs at Penn State’s University Park and DuBois campuses, and she has assisted victims of sexual assault through her work as a forensic examiner and educator for Mount Nittany Medical Center and the Centre County District Attorney’s Office. For nearly a decade, she operated a bed and breakfast at the Songer family home on Windswept Farm.

The couple have also served the community as volunteers. Tom Songer achieved the rank of Life Scout and has served as president of the Juniata Valley Council of the Boy Scouts of America. In addition, he has served as board chair of the Chamber of Business and Industry of Centre County, board chair of the Centre Foundation, campaign chair of the Centre County United Way, co-chair of the Phase IV YMCA Campaign, board member of Centre Peace, board member of the Centre County Industrial Development Authority, chair of the OLV Facilities Committee, co-chair of the OLV Campaign committee, and chair of the CPI Foundation. Sara Songer has long been a volunteer and supporter of the Women’s Resource Center (now known as Centre Safe) and a member of Centre Volunteers in Medicine.

The two have been members of Penn State’s Mount Nittany Society since 2004, and they served as chairs of the “Grand Destiny” campaign in the College of Nursing. In the past, they have established scholarships in the College of Nursing as well as a wrestling scholarship in Intercollegiate Athletics. Recently, they made a major gift to the WPSU documentary “A Time to Heal.”  

The couple said they take pride in their family: son Tom III, class of 1993, and daughter-in-law Jean, class of 1988; son Aaron class of 1993, and daughter-in-law Maggie, class of 1994; and grandchildren Elizabeth, Ben, Julia, Ethan and Quinn.

“Tom and Sara Songer have done so much to strengthen Penn State and the Centre Region through their careers, their service and their philanthropy, and we are delighted to have recognized them as our 2018 Renaissance Fund honorees,” said Penn State President Eric J. Barron. “Thanks to the generosity of Tom, Sara and their friends, family and colleagues, the Thomas and Sara Songer Family Renaissance Fund will enable high-achieving students from every economic background to earn Penn State degrees and follow in Tom’s and Sara’s footsteps as leaders.”

Gifts to the Tom and Sara Songer Family Renaissance Fund 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 greaterpennstate.psu.edu.

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated July 18, 2019