Entrepreneurship and innovation minor receives first Trustee Scholarship

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Donors with a long history of supporting entrepreneurship education at Penn State have established a new scholarship endowment to help students in the College of Agricultural Sciences who have a demonstrated financial need.

With a $50,000 gift, alumnus Earl Harbaugh and his wife, Kay, of The Villages, Fla., created the Harbaugh Family Trustee Scholarship, the first Penn State Trustee Scholarship to support students enrolled in the Entrepreneurship and Innovation minor.

"The College of Agricultural Sciences is on the leading edge of entrepreneurship at the University," Earl Harbaugh said. "We established this new Trustee Scholarship to encourage others to support students and their entrepreneurship and innovation efforts."

The Trustee Matching Scholarship Program maximizes the impact of private giving while directing funds to students as quickly as possible, meeting the urgent need for scholarship support. For Trustee Scholarships created through the end of For the Future: The Campaign for Penn State Students on June 30, 2014, Penn State will provide an annual 10 percent match of the total pledge or gift.

This level is an increase from the program's original match of 5 percent, and it is available only for new endowments of $50,000 or more. The University match, which is approximately double the endowment's annual spendable income, continues in perpetuity, multiplying the support available for students with financial need.

The new, intercollege Entrepreneurship and Innovation minor offers clusters of courses focusing on specific aspects of entrepreneurship. Each cluster is led by an academic college, but students may pursue whichever one interests them the most.

Students in the Food and Bio-Innovation cluster, which is led by the College of Agricultural Sciences, will learn to address opportunities and challenges in the agriculture and life sciences fields.  Other clusters are New Venture, New Media, Social Entrepreneurship and Technology-Based Entrepreneurship.

"Entrepreneurship is one of the most exciting areas for our students to pursue," said Penn State President Rodney Erickson. "I'm delighted that Earl and Kay Harbaugh have chosen to support this rapidly expanding and visionary thrust in the College of Agricultural Sciences."

The new scholarship dovetails with the Harbaughs' commitment to advancing entrepreneurship programs in the college. Among the couple's previous philanthropic efforts was the Harbaugh Endowment for Entrepreneurship, established to provide funds for the Harbaugh Entrepreneurship Forum. The forum brings entrepreneurial leaders to campus to interact with and inspire students and faculty.

A previous gift from the Harbaughs also supports the Harbaugh Entrepreneurship Scholar, the title currently held by Mark Gagnon, who leads the College of Agricultural Sciences' Entrepreneurship and Innovation Program. The initiative includes entrepreneurship-focused classes, the Ag Business Springboard undergraduate student competition and the Research Applications for Innovation grant program for faculty.

In addition to their entrepreneurship programming support, the Harbaughs have created two scholarships, an international program endowment to fund students studying abroad, and another endowment to assist faculty pioneering innovating teaching methods, all in the College of Agricultural Sciences. They are co-chairs of the College of Agricultural Sciences Development Council for the University's fundraising effort, For the Future: The Campaign for Penn State Students.

A 1961 Penn State graduate with a bachelor's degree in general agriculture, Earl Harbaugh is the chairman and CEO of Ditch Witch Midwest, which provides products, services and training for the underground construction industry. He also is the founder and CEO of four other Illinois businesses: Illini Power Products, Gen Power, Rentals Plus and First Choice Equipment.

In 2012, Harbaugh received the Distinguished Alumni Award, the highest honor bestowed by Penn State upon an outstanding alumna or alumnus.

The Harbaughs' gift will help the College of Agricultural Sciences to achieve the goals of For the Future: The Campaign for Penn State Students. This University-wide effort is directed toward a shared vision of Penn State as the most comprehensive, student-centered research university in America.

The University is engaging Penn State's alumni and friends as partners in achieving six key objectives: ensuring student access and opportunity, enhancing honors education, enriching the student experience, building faculty strength and capacity, fostering discovery and creativity, and sustaining the University's tradition of quality. The campaign's top priority is keeping a Penn State degree affordable for students and families. The For the Future campaign is the most ambitious effort of its kind in Penn State's history, with the goal of securing $2 billion by 2014.

Earl and Kay Harbaugh have created a Trustee Scholarship that will support students in the College of Agricultural Sciences minoring in Entrepreneurship and Innovation. Credit: Penn StateCreative Commons

Last Updated February 13, 2014