Alumnus will match campus community gifts to emergency fund, food bank

May 14, 2020

Penn State Wilkes-Barre alumnus Ric Struthers and his wife, Sharon, have made a commitment to the campus to help students who may be struggling with challenges related to coronavirus and related shutdowns. The couple, who live in Wilmington, Delaware, are also encouraging other friends of Penn State Wilkes-Barre to join them in supporting this effort through a matching challenge.

The longtime Penn State supporters and volunteers have made a new pledge of $10,000, dedicating $5,000 to the Penn State Wilkes-Barre Student Emergency Fund and $5,000 to the campus food bank. They have challenged Penn State Wilkes-Barre faculty, staff and advisory board members by offering to match philanthropic contributions from these groups, up to an additional $5,000 for each fund, for a total potential gift from the Struthers of $20,000.

“Sharon and I recognize what a stressful time it is for many students at Penn State. Some struggle with having the financial means for the basics of food and shelter, no less the concern of tuition,” said Ric Struthers, who attended Penn State Wilkes-Barre for two years before graduating from University Park in 1977 with a degree in management. “As the fall semester approaches, the needs will be greater than ever. We hope that by contributing to the Student Emergency Fund and food pantry, we can help those most in need and inspire others to contribute.”

Requests for the emergency fund and the food bank’s offerings have continued to increase due to the ongoing pandemic. The campus Student Emergency Fund provides students with tuition and housing assistance, as well as assistance with classroom and educational materials and medical expenses. The food bank continues to operate through contactless pickup and provides students with a selection of nonperishable food along with household and personal hygiene items. All Penn State Wilkes-Barre students can request items from the food bank. There are no income requirements or limits to number of requests.

Ric and Sharon Struthers are among the most generous supporters in the history of Penn State Wilkes-Barre. A $1 million gift from the couple was instrumental in building and furnishing the new Struthers Family Career Services Center, and it created an endowment to support the center’s operations. Their commitment also endowed the Struthers Family Trustee Scholarship for Penn State Wilkes-Barre students with financial need. In 2018, Ric and Sharon created the Struthers Family Open Doors Scholarship at Penn State Wilkes-Barre with a $500,000 gift. Their philanthropy has shaped other areas across the University, including $3 million in commitments toward a new home for the Smeal College of Business and gifts for the Bank of America Career Services Center, which Ric helped to launch; Intercollegiate Athletics; Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center; and many other funds and scholarships.

The Struthers have also long supported the University as volunteers. Currently, Ric serves on the Penn State Wilkes-Barre Advisory Board, as well as the Smeal College of Business Board of Visitors and the executive committee of the University’s fundraising campaign, “A Greater Penn State for 21st Century Excellence.” He was named a Distinguished Alumnus, the University’s highest honor for its graduates, in 2002. Sharon serves as the co-chair of the Parent Philanthropy Committee, and she is a member of the foundation board of directors at Clemson University, her alma mater. She was named a 2016 Honorary Alumni Award Recipient by the Penn State Alumni Association.

“Ric and Sharon Struthers are constant champions for Penn State students,” Chancellor Dale Jones said.  “Their gifts to the Penn State Wilkes-Barre Student Emergency Fund and Food Bank Fund provide critical and immediate assistance to students experiencing hardship and food insecurity. Their generosity has a direct influence on student quality of life, particularly for those impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Our campus continues to be inspired ​by and grateful ​for their compassion and support for our students.”

To contribute to the Wilkes-Barre Student Emergency Fund or make a monetary donation to the campus food bank, visit www.raise.psu.edu/wbemergency

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 twenty-first-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.

Last Updated July 28, 2020