Sue Paterno contributes $100K to support students during COVID-19 pandemic

Susan Burlingame
April 13, 2020

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Longtime Penn State benefactor and volunteer Sue Paterno has contributed $100,000 to support Penn State students during the COVID-19 pandemic. Citing her love for students, Paterno is designating half of her gift to the Student Care & Advocacy Emergency Fund, which will be directed to those hit hardest by the crisis. The remaining $50,000 will be added to the endowment of the Lion’s Pantry, created in 2014 to address the issue of food insecurity among students at Penn State University Park.

“All of our lives have been changed and challenged by the far-reaching effects of COVID-19,” Paterno said. “No one can foresee how our students will be impacted, but we must do what we can to help them as they pursue their educational goals.”

“Sue Paterno’s longtime leadership and advocacy on behalf of Penn State students have never been more needed than at this moment, when so many are facing serious personal, academic and financial impacts from COVID-19,” said University President Eric J. Barron. “Through her gift, Sue not only becomes the most generous donor to date in our efforts to get support to these students as quickly as possible, she also creates an inspiring model for the entire Penn State community with her belief that we can rise to this challenge through our shared faith in our students and our shared hopes for their future.”

A 1962 graduate of Penn State’s College of the Liberal Arts, Paterno has spent her lifetime supporting the University and its many programs as both philanthropist and volunteer leader. She has been instrumental in a wide range of initiatives across the University that benefit Penn State students, including a summer program for those from underrepresented communities and an academic support center for student-athletes. She has encouraged students to engage in philanthropy and service themselves through her support for THON, Penn State’s student-run philanthropy for families impacted by childhood cancer.

She has been a prominent leader for the College of the Liberal Arts and the University Libraries. In the college, she is a founding member of the Liberal Arts Alumni Society Board; a member of the Liberal Arts Development Council; a tutor; and founding donor, with her late husband, Joe Paterno, of the Paterno Fellows Program. She also is a founding member and longstanding vice chair of the University Libraries’ Library Development Board.

A past member of the Penn State Alumni Council, Paterno received the Distinguished Alumni Award from the Penn State Board of Trustees in 2004. She is a member of several Penn State giving societies, including the Elm Circle — the highest level of the Mount Nittany Society — and the Atherton Society, for those donors who have established planned gifts to the University.

Damon Sims, vice president for student affairs, said, “This latest gift from Sue Paterno extends her sustained commitment to help Penn State students receive the resources and encouragement they need. Support from Sue and more than 1,500 other donors who have made gifts to the Student Care & Advocacy Emergency Fund in the last few weeks should affirm to our students that though they may not be present on our campuses, they are still a part of a strong and supportive University community.”

“At University Park and at campuses across the commonwealth, Penn State students have been integral members of our community,” Paterno concluded. “We look forward to the day we can welcome them back to their respective campuses. Our goal is to inspire others in the Penn State and local community to join in our efforts to assist students in unprecedented times of challenge.”

To make a contribution, visit the Student Care & Advocacy Emergency Fund website or the Lion’s Pantry website.

Last Updated September 22, 2020