Alumna's appreciation of history and journalism lead to important, timely gift

July 19, 2021

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Alumna Kathleen Pavelko easily, and thoughtfully, conquered a difficult challenge — finding the just-right gift for a special occasion — with her recent support of Penn State.

Pavelko, who earned a bachelor’s degree in history (1975) and a master’s degree in journalism (1979) from the University, provided $20,000 for the naming of a voice-over booth in the Bellisario Media Center. The state-of-the-art, student-focused facility on the University Park campus will open for classes and students for the fall semester, and it will transform student experiences in the Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications.

Pavelko, president and CEO emerita of WITF Public Media in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, brought valuable perspective to her decision-making process.

“My approach is basically taking the long view backward and forward. Because I was a student of history before I was a student of journalism, that’s how I think,” Pavelko said. “Practically, a voice-over studio is a necessity for all communications platforms — radio, TV, podcasts, work online and so much more. It’s an important and valuable space today and every day.

“In the long term at Penn State, what used to be a school of journalism became a college, and then the Bellisario College. Things change, and we have to be prepared for that. The college has been an important part of my career, and this latest iteration with the media center prepares the college to serve the lives of students for years to come. It’s exciting to be part of that.”

Pavelko served as president and CEO of WITF from 1999 to 2019 before becoming a consultant to nonprofit boards and their executives. Under her leadership, WITF’s total assets quintupled, and it earned many journalism honors, including the DuPont-Columbia Silver Baton, which honors excellence in broadcast and digital news.

Before joining WITF, she served in production and management at Penn State Public Broadcasting, was executive producer for West Virginia Public Broadcasting and was president of Prairie Public Broadcasting, based in Fargo, North Dakota, where she created North Dakota Public Radio — the state’s first statewide public radio network.

“Kathleen’s pragmatic professionalism — her expertise, input and support — have benefited the Bellisario College for years,” said Dean Marie Hardin. “She’s a leader. Her curiosity, intelligence and thoughtfulness have made us better through the years. We appreciate that, and her support in this instance.”

The 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 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 serving communities and fueling discovery, innovation and entrepreneurship. To learn more about “A Greater Penn State for 21st Century Excellence,” visit

Last Updated July 29, 2021