Spurred by anonymous donor, Liberal Arts alumni board creates $250K scholarship

Susan Burlingame
September 28, 2020

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Motivated by the Educational Equity Scholarship Matching Program recently announced by Penn State President Eric Barron, a Liberal Arts Alumni Society Board (ASB) member decided the time was right for making a meaningful philanthropic gift.

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Clarence Lang, Susan Welch Dean of the College of the Liberal Arts, and Jennifer Hamer, professor of African American studies and senior faculty mentor in the Office of the Vice Provost for Educational Equity, were recently surprised by an educational equity scholarship created by the Liberal Arts Alumni Society Board and named in their honor.

IMAGE: Zoe Eastman Lewis Hamer-Lang

With a lead gift of $100,000 — $50,000 through an immediate stock transfer and an additional $50,000 pledged over the next five years — the donor, who wishes to remain anonymous, established the Dean Clarence Lang and Professor Jennifer Hamer Educational Equity Scholarship in the College of the Liberal Arts, which received an immediate 1:1 match from the University through the Educational Equity Matching Program.

When past and current members of the ASB were alerted that they could add to the scholarship and also receive a 1:1 match, they soon contributed an additional $25,000 to the endowment, bringing the total value of the scholarship, when matched, to $250,000.

“It’s been a rough year,” said the donor. “The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted everyone, and social injustice issues facing the country are extremely troubling. We wanted to find a tangible way to help and thought that a lasting philanthropic gift was the right thing to do.”

The donor explained that the scholarship helps address the inequities faced by students from underrepresented populations, especially those who are experiencing additional challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the recent civil unrest. It also honors the leadership and generosity of Clarence Lang, Susan Welch Dean of the College of the Liberal Arts, as well as the dean’s spouse, Jennifer Hamer, professor of African American studies and senior faculty mentor in the Office of the Vice Provost for Educational Equity. The couple recently made philanthropic gifts to the college: Hamer established the Jennifer Hamer Fund to Enhance Student Success in the College of the Liberal Arts, and Lang made a significant contribution to the college’s Emergency Scholarship Fund.

“I was excited when President Barron announced the University's Educational Equity Scholarship match program, and I encouraged my college's Alumni Relations and Development team to pursue this opportunity aggressively,” said Lang. “I could never have imagined that it would yield such a wonderful honor for Jennifer and me. I am deeply grateful for this scholarship, not only because it signals the confidence that alumni, friends and donors have in our leadership and contributions to Penn State, but more importantly, it will ensure greater access and affordability for diverse students at such a critical moment. Let me say, too, that I continue to be amazed by all that our alumni are doing for our college in this crisis.”

Lang joined the College of the Liberal Arts on July 1, 2019. He was recently tapped by President Barron to serve as a co-chair of the Select Penn State Presidential Commission on Racism, Bias and Community Safety. Hamer has been instrumental in creating and moderating a series of roundtable conversations titled “Toward Racial Equity at Penn State: Social Difference, Social Equity and Social Change,” co-sponsored by the Office of the Vice Provost for Equity, the University’s Division for Development and Alumni Relations, and WPSU.

“Honestly, I was moved to tears when I received the news about this remarkable gift,” said Hamer. “Thinking back on that moment, I realize that I should not have been surprised. The news was evidence of the considerable thoughtfulness and care that our liberal arts alumni have consistently demonstrated toward others, especially our students, and also to our family. Still, I am so overwhelmed! For me, this gift and other alumni acts of kindness are my inspiration. They remind me that our Penn State world is filled with wonderful people. They remind me that we are at our best when we do for others. And they inspire me to continue to do my part for a better tomorrow. This new scholarship fund, and other gifts to the liberal arts, reveal the promise that our future holds.”  

“I am very pleased to see such a generous group effort in support of something so important,” said ASB president Randy Sones, a 1980 alumnus of the college. “The scholarship dovetails perfectly with the strategic priorities of Dean Lang — affordability, access and career readiness — all of the which the Alumni Society Board endorses and seeks to further through mentoring programs, career panels, networking opportunities and philanthropic gifts.”

To make a contribution to the Dean Clarence Lang and Professor Jennifer Hamer Educational Equity Scholarship, visit raise.psu.edu/LangHamerScholarship

The Educational Equity Matching Program offers alumni and friends the opportunity to partner with the University in creating a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive Penn State. Through June 30, 2022, or until the $10 million pool of matching support is expended, donors can multiply the impact of new scholarships for students whose gender, race, ethnic, cultural, and/or national background contribute to the diversity of the Penn State community. This support will help to fulfill Penn State’s historic land-grant mission -- to reach all citizens of our commonwealth through teaching, research and service -- and drive transformation across the institution and the larger world.  Learn more at raise.psu.edu/EEMP.

The Dean Clarence Lang and Professor Jennifer Hamer Educational Equity Scholarship helps to 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 support from devoted benefactors who believe in Penn State and its mission, “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.

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Last Updated November 23, 2020