Penn State Behrend was founded on philanthropy: Mary Behrend donated her summer home and farm property so that Erie students could be part of a public, coeducational university.
That tradition of giving has never ebbed. “For the Future: The Campaign for Penn State Students,” a seven-year, University-wide fundraising effort that concluded in June, raised $48.9 million for the college – more than any Penn State campus outside of University Park. That support, which took the form of cash, pledges, estate commitments and software gifts, exceeded the original goal by nearly $17 million.
Kurt Buseck, chairman of the Penn State Behrend Council of Fellows, and Gary Clark, vice-chairman of the council, led the campaign, which created 51 new endowments: 40 for student scholarships, 10 for program support and one to create a new faculty position.
“Philanthropy follows passion,” said Don Birx, chancellor of Penn State Behrend. “We are grateful that so many felt passionate about supporting Penn State students as they achieve their goal of earning a degree from one of the world’s most outstanding universities.”
Penn State raised a record $2.188 billion with the “For the Future” campaign. The University engaged alumni and friends to promote interdisciplinary research, enhance honors education and encourage innovation across the curriculum, among other goals.
The campaign’s foremost priority was to keep a Penn State degree affordable for students and families from every economic background. To that end, Penn State Behrend has awarded 3,000 new scholarships to 1,852 students.
Other gifts took different forms:
- The Robert and Sally Metzgar Admissions and Alumni Center provided a new “front door” for the college. The building houses the admissions, financial aid, alumni relations, bursar and registrar offices.
- The Susan Hirt Hagen Center for Community Outreach, Research and Evaluation, or CORE, has expanded its scope, addressing all aspects of healthy youth development. The center provides research and evaluation services to social service agencies, businesses and other organizations in northwest Pennsylvania.
- The Yahn Planetarium at Penn State Behrend, which will open Nov. 6, will offer more than 20 astronomy shows for school, scout and public groups. The facility is located in the School of Science complex.
- The Intrieri Family Student-Managed Fund allows students to invest real money in the stock market, offering a taste of Wall Street risk and reward. The original $100,000 investment, made possible by a gift from Alumni Fellow Vincent Intrieri ‘84, is now worth $176,000.
- Autodesk, a top creator of 3D modeling software, made its complete suite of products available to every student and faculty member at Penn State Behrend. The gift – the company’s first to a university – has a commercial value of nearly $150 million. It supports the college’s open laboratory initiative, in which business leaders, faculty members and students engage in research and development as teams.
“There are few ways of giving that provide generational returns long after we are gone,” Birx said. “These gifts do just that. They represent opportunities not only for Penn State Behrend students, but also for the region as a whole. Education makes it possible for individuals to sustain their families, advance in their professions and contribute to their communities’ strength.”