Verne M. Willaman, a 1951 Penn State graduate and a native of Greenville, Mercer County, has committed a gift of $20 million to Penn State's campaign to endow the dean's chair in the Eberly College of Science and to add significant additional support for numerous faculty endowments, need-based scholarships and graduate fellowships that he had previously established. The value of Willaman's total commitments to the University presently exceeds $27 million, making him one of Penn State's most generous benefactors.
Willaman, who majored in biological chemistry at Penn State, is a former chairman and president of Ortho Pharmaceutical Corp. and a member of the executive committee of Ortho's parent firm, Johnson & Johnson Inc.
The Willaman Dean's Chair in the Eberly College of Science is only the second dean's chair to be endowed at Penn State, according to President Graham B. Spanier. Income from the endowment gives the dean flexible funds to support a variety of academic initiatives within his or her college that most likely would not be possible without this private support.
"The Willaman Dean's Chair, for example, could bolster innovative learning opportunities in classrooms and labs, attract world-renowned visiting scholars, support special student projects and awards, fund junior faculty research -- the list is almost endless" Spanier said. Our goal is to have a dean's chair in each of our academic colleges."
Willaman designated substantial support to endowments he previously created for Verne M. Willaman faculty chairs in the life sciences and in molecu-
lar biology, the Verne M. Willaman professorships and graduate fellowships in the Eberly College of Science, and the Prescott and Mary Willaman Scholarships.
The Prescott and Mary Willaman Scholarships, created a few years ago in honor of the donor's parents, currently assist financially needy undergraduates with a proven academic record who are Mercer County residents. While Mercer County students will still get preference, the additional funding will expand the scholarships to include other areas as well.
Following graduation from Penn State, Willaman served in the U.S. Navy and then joined Ortho Pharmaceutical in 1954. He rose through the executive ranks to become president in 1969 and chairman in 1976. He became a director and member of the executive committee of Johnson & Johnson in 1977 and retired in 1988.
As a Penn State volunteer, he was a member of the national campaign committee of the Campaign for Penn State, which raised $352 million in gifts for academic programs in the 1980s, and of the National Development Council, which guided the University's fund-raising efforts in the early 1990s. He currently serves as honorary chair of the Eberly College's component of Penn State's capital campaign.
Willaman was named a Distinguished Alumnus in 1993 -- the highest honor bestowed upon alumni by the University -- and an Alumni Fellow of the Eberly College in 1985. He divides his residence between Vail, Colo., and San Luis Obispo, Calif.
Ric Struthers, MBNA senior vice chairman and 1977 Penn State graduate in business
management, left, talks with Tim Curley, athletic director, and Jack Rayman, director of career
services, after the announcement of MBNA's $10 million gift to the University. The gift will be
split among career services, athletics and the Hintz Alumni Center.
Photo: Greg Grieco
MBNA America Bank N.A. has committed $10 million to a variety of programs aimed at helping Penn State students and alumni. MBNA is perhaps most well known to the University community as issuers of the Penn State credit card.
A new Career Services Center will receive $4 million of the gift. The new building will enable Career Services to expand and improve career development and job placement services for both students and alumni. The Alumni Association and Career Services will work together to develop a comprehensive new array of career services for alumni.
MBNA designated $5 million to upgrade athletic facilities and to endow athletic scholarships. The support for facilities may be directed toward improving existing sites or new construction, depending on where the need is greatest. The athletic scholarship endowment will benefit academically qualified students who are recruited to the University in any sport.
MBNA designated $1 million for the Hintz Alumni Center. Private gifts will cover the entire cost of the project.
MBNA recently reached a 10-year agreement with Penn State that extends and expands the credit card program. A new card features the image and endorsement of head football Coach Joe Paterno. The Alumni Association uses income from the card to support scholarships, teaching fellowships, alumni career services and similar endeavors to help students, faculty and alumni.
The new Career Services Center will provide state-of-the-art accommodations for career counseling, career programming, placement services and newly established Alumni Career Services. The latest technology will be employed to offer job vacancy postings, resume listings, career-related workshops and seminars, and similar services aimed at helping Penn State students and alumni at all locations in new employment opportunities. All these services will be centrally located in the new building, for which MBNA is the lead donor. Additional private funds will be raised from other sources to support its construction. Already, more than 1,000 employers come to campus each year and conduct about 20,000 interviews.
The Hintz Alumni Center will serve as a gathering site for returning alumni and a focal point for campus tours. Although Penn State has the nation's largest dues-paying alumni association -- about 140,000 members -- it is one of the few universities that has no dedicated alumni center.
MBNA employs more than 500 Penn State students and alumni at its State College office and other locations.
MBNA Corp., a bank holding company and parent of MBNA America Bank N.A., a national bank, has $62 billion in managed loans. It is the largest independent credit card lender in the world, and also provides retail deposit, consumer loan and insurance products.
By Gary Cramer
A $5 million commitment to the College of Health and Human
Development from alumna Edna
Bennett Pierce will support a variety of University efforts aimed at improving the health and welfare of children and adolescents.
Bennett Pierce has directed $4 million of the total gift to an endowment for teaching, research and outreach programs involving children and adolescents. The endowment will fund graduate and faculty fellowships, and provide other enhancements to the work of the Prevention Research Center for the Promotion of Human Development.
Mark T. Greenberg, the professor of human development and family studies who heads the center, holds the Edna Peterson Bennett Chair in Prevention Research. This faculty position was endowed in 1994 by Bennett Pierce and her late first husband, C. Eugene Bennett. The center focuses on the promotion of the well-being of children and youth by reducing the prevalence of high-risk behaviors and poor outcomes for children, families and communities-such as delinquency, violence, school failure, and drug and alcohol abuse.
The remaining $1 million will support the construction of a new child care facility at University Park.
The $2.3 million facility is designed to meet the day care needs of approximately 140 children, and to serve teaching and research purposes. It will be operated by the College of Health and Human Development and its Department of Human Development and Family Studies. Construction could begin this summer in the Eastview Terrace area of campus.
A civic leader and philanthropist, Bennett Pierce is a member of the "Famous 500," the first freshman class of women admitted to Penn State following World War II. She earned her bachelor's degree in home economics with an emphasis in child development in 1953.
C. Eugene Bennett, who died in 1996, began his doctoral studies in analytical chemistry at Penn State in 1951. Following two years in the U.S. Air Force and three years with E.I. du Pont de Nemours, he co-founded F&M Scientific Corp., which eventually became the Avondale Division of Hewlett Packard. After leaving Hewlett Packard, he was a consultant.
An earlier gift from the Bennetts renovated the model preschool playground for the College of Health and Human Development's Child Development Laboratory.
Bennett Pierce is a member of the steering committee for the University's current fund-raising effort and is honorary chair of the College of Health and Human Development's campaign committee.
With a ceremonial "tap water toast" last week, Penn State Harrisburg dedicated the $1.6 million expansion to its Science and Technology Building. As part of the improvement project, Penn State Harrisburg also will serve as one of five national centers to provide training and technical assistance to water utilities.
The building's addition is designed to complement graduate and undergraduate environmental engineering programs. It also will be the home for both national and state training and technical centers.
A $400,000 grant from the federal Environmental Protection Agency covers three years and complements a previous $500,000 grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection. That commitment established a state training center there and helped underwrite the building's expansion.
The addition to the 1982 structure includes a pilot lab, air quality lab, two research labs, faculty offices, and a seminar room. For its contribution and commitment, DEP will have priority use of a state-of-the-art multimedia classroom, a pilot water treatment facility for hands-on training and research, and an administrative office.
Charles Cole, Berg professor of engineering, and Yufeng Xie, assistant professor of environmental engineering, were awarded the federal grant for the project which over three years will have a budget of nearly $1.2 million. The two Harrisburg faculty members will serve as co-directors of the center.
The continued commitment of New Cumberland resident Frances Berg to Penn State Harrisburg's academic programs has reached a record level.
Berg and the Quentin Berg Trust have given $1.25 million to create the Quentin Berg University Chair in Engineering in the School of Science, Engineering and Technology. The gift is one of the largest single monetary commitments in Penn State Harrisburg's 33-year history.
The gift builds on Berg's $250,000 commitment to the college in 1987, which established the Berg Professorship in Engineering. The $1.25 million elevates the professorship to the Berg Chair in Engineering.
The Berg Chair is designed to enhance the University's commitment to the Commonwealth by providing a distinguished faculty member in the School of Science, Engineering and Technology the opportunity to continue and further scholarly excellence through contributions to teaching, research and community service.
Berg is the widow of Quentin Berg, who founded Berg Electronics, a manufacturer of electronic assembly machinery for the electronics industry, in 1950. Quentin Berg sold the firm to DuPont in 1972, one year before his death.
Penn State invests endowed gifts and uses a portion of the annual income to support the program designated by the donor. The remaining income is returned to the principal to help it grow and protect it from inflation. Income from the Berg endowment might be used for such purposes as a salary supplement, to support the research and teaching initiatives of the chairholder, for graduate assistant stipends and other scholarly activities.
By Gary Cramer
A former Penn State staff member has committed $1 million to endow a fund for Alzheimer's disease research at The Milton S. Hershey Medical Center. The commitment comes from Carolyn Cruse Keiler, who worked for 15 years as an administrative assistant for the associate dean for Academic Affairs in the Commonwealth Educational System.
A variety of research projects involving Alzheimer's disease at the medical center could benefit from the endowment, including molecular-level studies of how the proteins responsible for regulating iron availability to brain cells may be dysfunctional in people with the disease. Such studies of iron's role in Alzheimer's disease are conducted in the George M. Leader Family Laboratory for Alzheimer's Disease Research in the Department of Neuroscience and Anatomy.
The fund is named the Soter S. and Carolyn C. Harbolis Alzheimer's Research Endowment in memory of Keiler's first husband, Soter Harbolis, who earned his MBA from Penn State and worked for HRB Systems in State College for 36 years.
Soter Harbolis also owned and operated an air charter service, Flight Service Co. Both Keiler and her first husband were pilots, and she was active with the Penn State Commission for Women, the Ninety Nines and the Centre Community Hospital Auxiliary while a resident of State College.
Keiler lives in The Villages, Fla., and is married to Joseph A. Keiler, a retired lt. commander and aviator of the U.S. Navy. Her daughter, Suzanne Harbolis Sawyer, is a 1983 graduate of Penn State and director of marketing services for the Penn State Geisinger Health System.
Students in business and engineering fields could be in line for better and higher-paying jobs after graduation, thanks to a gift from Unisys Corp., a global information technology company.
Unisys has donated four Aquanta ES2043R servers that will run SAP software, the most popular enterprise resource planning software for many business and systems engineering applications. SAP America, based in Newtown Square, provided the software.
The servers have a total value of $311,000 and can support about 250 concurrent users.
Enterprise software changes the way companies do business by integrating the flow of information throughout the organization. It models and automates many of the basic processes of a company, from finance and procurement to the shop floor.
At Penn State, the Unisys hardware will run the SAP R/3 program for students in selected courses in business logistics, management science and information systems, and industrial engineering at the University Park campus; industrial engineering at Penn State Great Valley; and management information systems at Penn State Erie.
"The widespread use of SAP in Fortune 500 companies means that many of our graduates will have a competitive edge as a result of using the software while they are students," said J. Gary Augustson, vice provost for information technology. "They will be better prepared to lead our nation's technology-driven companies and organizations well into the next century."
Augustson also said that partnerships with Unisys and SAP have the potential to strengthen programs in Penn State's new School of Information Sciences and Technology, which will admit its first students this fall.
The Unisys donation reinforces the commitment made by the company to help keep high-tech talent in Pennsylvania. Last month, Unisys became the first Pennsylvania company named to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania's Keystone State Honor Roll, a designation made by the Commonwealth for companies that have made commitments to create college internships and job opportunities in Pennsylvania.
With headquarters in Blue Bell, in the Greater Philadelphia area, Unisys has more than 33,000 employees helping customers in 100 countries apply information technology to solve their business problems.
Penn State Erie has received a $500,000 gift from the Joseph Benacci family to create the Joseph A. and Berit I. Benacci Family Scholarship.
Joe Benacci is CEO of T.W.L. Corp., a trucking and warehousing company with interests in real estate, transportation and distribution. He began his academic career at Penn State Erie in the early 1950s, before it was possible to receive a four-year degree at the college. He continued his studies at University Park, but was unable to complete his degree due to the untimely death of his father. A member of the Erie Conference on Community Development, Benacci also is on the Penn State Erie Alumni Society board and serves on the board of directors of the Penn State Erie Council of Fellows.
Berit Benacci has been involved with both the Erie Philharmonic and the Hamot Aid Society, and served on Penn State Erie's 50th anniversary committee.
The scholarship will give first consideration to employees of T.W.L. Corp. and their relatives.
The Benaccis made the gift as a family. Their children are Joseph, a plastic surgeon at Pitt County Memorial Hospital, a part of East Carolina University; Kristina Hannum, who received her Ph.D. in higher education from the University of Florida at Gainesville; Ray, president of T.W.L. Corp.; Jennifer, a 1997 graduate of the University of Northern Arizona in education; and Karl, who plans to attend Penn State Erie in the fall.
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