Ross commits gift for new WPSU transmitter and Pattee Library expansion

May 01, 2019

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Keiko Miwa Ross, of State College, Pennsylvania, has made a gift of $2 million to support WPSU television and Penn State University Libraries. This major commitment will enable WPSU-TV to completely replace its aging transmitter system, which is running at limited power. The gift from Ross will also support extensive upgrades to Pattee Library and Paterno Library as part of its Libraries 2020 renovation and expansion project, with the new space scheduled to open in fall 2019.

Penn State will honor Ross’ gift by naming two library spaces: the Dr. Keiko Miwa Ross Pattee Garden Terrace, a new Pattee Library student-centered study and gathering space that will include an outdoor garden; and the Dr. Keiko Miwa Ross Global News Center, which provides access to international news collections. She will also receive on-air recognition during select WPSU-TV programming.

“We are extremely grateful to Dr. Ross for her remarkable generosity,” said Penn State President Eric J. Barron. “Penn State is committed to serving communities across Pennsylvania through teaching and outreach, and Dr. Ross’ philanthropy is helping us do that in powerful ways. Her funding for the new transmitter system ensures that WPSU’s four stations can continue broadcasting to hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvania households. And her support for the University Libraries will greatly enhance their value as state-of-the-art learning laboratories for today’s users — students, faculty and community members.”

Born and raised in Japan, Ross was an educational pioneer in her native country. In 1952, Japanese college education was opened for women for the first time in history, and Ross was among the nation’s first female undergraduates. She completed her education in the United States, however, first receiving her bachelor of arts degree and, later, her master’s and doctoral degrees in education from universities in Washington State.

Back in Japan, while she was teaching college in Kobe and living in Nishinomiya, Ross worked for a sister-city affiliate program between Nishinomiya and the City of Spokane, Washington, where she had lived during school, and in 1965 she received honorary citizenship from the mayor of Spokane. In 1974, she worked for then U.S. President Gerald Ford during his visit to Japan, receiving a Presidential Certificate of Appreciation.

During one of these special assignments — as an official hostess for foreign dignitaries at Expo '70, the world's fair in Osaka — she met S. Thomas Ross, director of an American-Japanese joint venture company. They were married the following year and lived in Japan until 1977, when he was assigned to New York.  Ross subsequently became an American citizen and, while working for the U.S. Department of State, was able to visit all 50 states. The Rosses ultimately settled at the Village at Penn State, and Thomas passed away in 2013.

In keeping with her life experiences, Ross’ philanthropy is international in scope and tenor: In her native country, she is the largest individual donor to the Japan Cancer Society. In the U.S., she has made multiple gifts to the Village, for which several spaces now bear her name. Her gifts to Penn State, which include previous support for WPSU-TV programming, share an emphasis on aspects of the University that bring the world to the people of Pennsylvania, and the newly named spaces in Pattee and Paterno Library will stand as fitting tributes to her remarkable life, passion for lifelong learning and philanthropic vision.

“I had seen the presence and awareness of Japanese culture and activities in some parts of the U.S., such as the communities of traditional Japanese immigrants on the West Coast, international business and politics in New York and Washington, D.C, and Japanese automobile manufacturers in the South, but almost nothing in the center of Pennsylvania,” says Ross. “Then I learned, to my great excitement and appreciation, that WPSU-TV had started broadcasting NHK World-Japan programs, the English language worldwide network of NHK. The Penn State University Libraries also subscribed to Japanese newspapers and magazines. What a comfort and joy! I am glad to support these resources which are so meaningful for myself and others.”

This gift 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

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated May 13, 2019