Alumnus leaves a legacy at the Penn State Smeal College of Business

August 07, 2020

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — The Penn State Smeal College of Business and the Institute for Real Estate Studies (IRES) are saddened to share that alumnus, longtime donor and Real Estate Advisory Board member Jeffrey N. Perrone died in June near his home in Andover, Massachusetts. 

“Jeff’s leadership helped make Smeal a better institution,” said Charles H. Whiteman, dean of the Smeal College of Business. “I valued his industry expertise, and I appreciated his sense of humor, his kindness and his commitment to helping our students succeed not just at Penn State but in life.”

When Perrone graduated from Penn State in 1979 with a degree in accounting, his interest was in tax shelters.

“Back in those days, tax was much more of a ‘wild west’ type of practice,” he said in an interview last year.

The Tax Reform Act of 1986 altered the course of Perrone’s career. The same people that took advantage of tax shelters “never went away," he said, shifting their focus to real-estate investing.

Perrone said he always believed that his Smeal degree was foundational to his career success at Deloitte. He spent more than 40 years with the firm, retiring in May 2020 as a partner specializing in real estate taxes.

He made his first gift to the University, a $15 contribution to the College of Business Alumni Fund, in 1983. Over the subsequent 27 years, the amount he gave grew, culminating last year with a $500,000 estate commitment to create the Jeffrey N. Perrone Program Fund for IRES in the Smeal College of Business.

“I fondly recall thanking Jeff for his estate commitment last year at the fall real estate advisory board meeting,” Whiteman said. “It was a wonderful moment to have so many of our board members join me in recognizing his generosity and his loyal support to our real estate program. The fund has become his legacy far too soon.”

Perrone said that he “never had a second thought” about giving to Penn State when discussing the commitment. “Every December, I sit down to consider my personal philanthropy for the year. And every December, the first check I write is to Penn State.”

In addition to Penn State, Perrone also was passionate about the Merrimack Valley Habitat for Humanity, where he was a generous donor, a job site volunteer specializing in the installation of ceramic tile, and board treasurer for the last six years. 

“I’ll remember Jeff for his kind and thoughtful words,” said Brent Ambrose, the Jason and Julie Borrelli Faculty Chair in Real Estate and the director of the Institute for Real Estate Studies. “He gave freely of his time and his energy as a mentor and always had the best interests of our students at heart. His insights over the years helped us consider ways to improve our program, and he’ll be greatly missed.”  

In addition to his estate commitment, Perrone endowed the Cynthia Ade and Jeffery Perrone Trustee Scholarship in the Smeal College of Business in 2011. Two years later, he joined Smeal’s Real Estate Advisory Board, and he committed to a second term in 2018. Like all board members, Perrone made a five-year financial commitment to support real-estate education at Smeal, welcoming the opportunity to lead through the example of his own philanthropy.

Perrone said he took great pride in the real estate program’s growth in recent years.

“The master’s program has really taken off, which is a significant achievement, and the trajectory of the board has been really satisfying as well,” Perrone said in his last interview with the Smeal College of Business.

The Jeffrey N. Perrone Program Fund for IRES will enrich the Institute for Real Estate Studies, including support for research, travel, conference fees, speakers, networking opportunities for students and expenses for other real estate studies, and projects.

“Jeff’s gift will help ensure the future of real estate education and scholarship at Penn State,” said Whiteman. “That’s a powerful legacy.”

Perrone suggested that more people should consider following his example.

“The thing about a legacy gift is that it’s easy to do,” Perrone said when discussing his decision to create the fund. “If you think about how Penn State really helped you achieve whatever success you have enjoyed in your own careers, then it’s something that everyone should be thinking about.”

Jeff is survived by his three sons — Daniel, Steven, and John, who graduated from Penn State in 2015 with a degree in finance.

“My dad inspired me to attend Penn State. If not for him, I wouldn’t be a Penn Stater today,” said John Perrone. “I know my dad loved Penn State deeply, and I’m grateful his legacy will continue on for generations by helping the students, programs and faculty connected to the Institute for Real Estate Studies.”

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated August 27, 2020