Ag Sciences alumna to create dean’s discretionary fund with estate pledge

Susan Bedsworth
December 14, 2020

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — After a longtime career as an environmental scientist, Nancy Evans has created the Nancy A. Evans Dean’s Discretionary Fund in the College of Agricultural Sciences through a future estate gift of $375,000. The support from Evans, a 1980 graduate of the Environmental Resource Management (ERM) program, builds upon her past support for the college, and it will be used to ensure affordable access and enhanced experiences for Agricultural Sciences students.

Discretionary funds offer a great deal of flexibility when it comes to use, allowing the dean of the College of Agricultural Sciences to distribute the funds to where they are most needed, including to support student and faculty research, undergraduate student support, study abroad opportunities, outreach activities, equipment and supplies and more.

“The gift of a discretionary fund provides significant support and opportunity for the leadership of the College of Agricultural Sciences,” said Dean Rick Roush. “Gifts like these allow us a great deal of flexibility to channel the funds where they are needed most to ensure the greatest impact. We greatly appreciate this gift and are grateful for the generosity of Nancy Evans.”

Born and raised in Mifflinville, Pennsylvania, Evans knew growing up that she always wanted to attend Penn State. She started out at the Penn State Hazleton campus for her first two years before transitioning to the University Park campus. With a desire to become a scientist, she started out in biology, but knew she wanted to go into something more specific. Part of what she loved about Penn State was that there were so many options for degree programs. She found ERM thanks to her freshman biology lab partner and felt it would be a good fit for her future as a scientist. 

Despite graduating in the midst of a recession, Evans secured a job as an environmental scientist with the PPL Corporation. She started out at one of PPL’s coal-fired plants before moving to the corporate offices in Allentown, Pennsylvania, where her area of expertise was water. She dealt with regulatory compliance, permitting, drinking water, wetland issues and more.

“One of the things that I enjoyed most about working for PPL was that they weren’t a company that tried to get around things,” said Evans. “They wanted to know what the regulations were, how we could meet them, and they often would go above and beyond. This allowed us to have a good relationship with the different bureaus, like the Department of Environmental Protection, the Army Corps of Engineers, and other commissions.”

Evans credits the education she received for finding a career she enjoyed and professional success.

“Having the ERM major in the College of Ag Sciences allowed me to take some different classes, like agricultural sciences, agronomy and others,” said Evans. “A lot of those agricultural courses were ones that helped me out in my first job, allowing me to learn about things like earthen dams and soils. It was amazing it worked out that way and I really enjoyed being in the college.”

As a longtime supporter of Penn State, specifically the College of Agricultural Sciences and THON, it means a lot to Evans to be able to make this next step in her philanthropy with the college, she said.

“Education is so important,” said Evans. “Now that I’m retired and have the ability to do it, I found a place where I can make a contribution that’s substantial and meaningful. I hope [this fund] will help students have the opportunity to get a great education and have experiences that change their lives. It makes me happy that I will be able to help.”

The Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences represents the foundation of the University and its land-grant mission to serve the public good. To fulfill that mission for a new era of rapid change and global connections, Penn State is pursuing "A Greater Penn State for 21st Century Excellence," a fast-paced campaign focused on the three key imperatives of a 21st-century public university: Open Doors, Create Transformative Experiences, and Impact the World. Through teaching, research, and Extension, and because of generous alumni and friends, the College of Agricultural Sciences is able to offer scholarships to one in four students, create life-shaping opportunities, and make a difference in the world by fueling discovery, innovation, and entrepreneurship. To learn more about supporting the college, visit http://agsci.psu.edu/giving. Information about the campaign is available at greaterpennstate.psu.edu.

Last Updated December 21, 2020