Penn State meets its $2 billion fund-raising goal ahead of schedule

Posted: April 14, 2014

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. Despite an economic downturn and a blistering child sex-abuse scandal, Pennsylvania State University exceeded its $2 billion capital campaign goal - several months ahead of schedule.

The university said it raised $2.158 billion during the seven-year campaign - $158 million over its goal and the largest amount raised in school history.

The university announced the results of "For the Future: The Campaign for Penn State Students" on Saturday evening amid a weekend of celebration with donors.

"We just focused on the students," said Peter Tombros, volunteer chair of the campaign. "Our donors didn't think twice about giving to our students."

Rodney Kirsch, senior vice president for development and alumni relations, said the success illustrated "resiliency but also remarkable loyalty."

"Some people came to us wanting to be even more supportive," he said.

The campaign began Jan. 1, 2007, just before the economic downturn. Having weathered that, the university was hit again in November 2011 after former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky was charged with sexually abusing young boys.

Fallout from the ensuing scandal, including sanctions leveled by the NCAA and a battle over the board of trustees' handling of the matter, continues to linger.

But giving remained strong, officials said, although the university experienced a drop in alumni donations last year. The campaign drew from 167,500 alumni who collectively gave $879 million.

Overall, more than 603,000 donated, officials said, including nearly 13,000 faculty and staff, who contributed $61 million and current and past members of the board of trustees, who kicked in more than $110 million. Corporate philanthropy accounted for more than $400 million of the total. And in the largest individual gift in university history, Terry and Kim Pegula, owners of the NHL's Buffalo Sabres, contributed $102 million for construction of the Pegula Ice Arena.

Approximately $519 million will be applied to undergraduate student scholarships, a campaign priority. Nearly 45,000 students already have received scholarships, aided by campaign dollars, Kirsch noted.

An additional $783 million will go toward the university's $2 billion-plus endowment. The university's Commonwealth campuses will receive more than $175 million.

Other initiatives include: $75 million for honors education, $175 million for endowed faculty positions and programs, $65 million for the new Penn State Hershey Children's Hospital. Some $73 million of the total was raised by THON, the annual student dance marathon that targets proceeds to combat pediatric cancer.

The effort ends June 30.


ssnyder@phillynews.com

215-854-4693 @ssnyderinq

www.inquirer.com/campusinq

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