Pam and Brad Korman complete each other’s sentences, instinctively and smoothly taking turns as they discuss their daughter’s experience at Penn State — and their decision to create a new endowment at Penn State to help other students find the same growth and success. The Pamela and Bradley Korman Endowment for CommAgency in the Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications will support the kind of hands-on learning that gives students a professional edge.
Their daughter, a sophomore journalism major, found opportunities almost from the moment she stepped on campus — and the family’s first visit remains vivid in her mother’s memory.
“I was worried about a big school, but our middle son said I was being foolish and Penn State was where she needed to be,” Pam Korman recalled. “We weren’t on the campus for 30 minutes when Brad and I looked at each other and said ‘Yeah, this is it.’”
Along with evidence of caring and support from faculty and staff, the Korman family found strong practical considerations for their daughter to select the Bellisario College to pursue a career in broadcast journalism.
“We were at some schools, and they’d show us shiny new cameras or studios but made it clear those were for upperclassmen. At Penn State, they told us students could find ways to be hands-on from the start,” Brad Korman said. “We asked some students how long they had to wait after they got here to start doing things, and the answer was about two weeks. Plus, you see the work students are producing, and it speaks for itself.”
While their daughter has made the most of her time at Penn State, including a production-related internship with Penn State Athletics, the Kormans have embraced the University as well.
Although neither of them, nor their two older sons attended Penn State, Brad’s parents both did and there was always a connection with Happy Valley.
Thanks in part to their daughter’s positive experience, and as a testament to their commitment helping others in general and encouraging college students to succeed in particular, the Kormans made a $100,000 gift to create their endowment. Through its current fundraising campaign, “A Greater Penn State for 21st Century Excellence,” and the Economic Development Matching Program, the University made a one-time 1:1 matching contribution to bring the total endowment to $200,000.
“The combination of classroom and practical experience puts students in the best position for career success and the Kormans’ gift will open up those kinds of opportunities for even more of our students,” Dean Marie Hardin said. “We appreciate their commitment and vision, which will have a long-lasting impact.”
The funding will support paid internships for students working for CommAgency — the student-run media production agency that provides live production, photography, social strategy and analytics and videography for Penn State clients. The Kormans and several other Bellisario College supporters watched a showcase of CommAgency work and talked to students late in the fall semester. That effort was facilitated by the Bellisario College’s development office.
“If you’re going to work during college, and you can have the opportunity for that to be resume-building, and in particular a paid internship, it’s so much more valuable because you can carry that experience with you when you graduate,” says Pam Korman, a conceptual photographer whose work has been showcased in exhibitions across the world. She also leads workshops for photographers based on color theory, composition, and developing and executing personal projects.
“We’ve always been advocates for education, and big believers that when you have the ability to help, you need to help,” Brad Korman adds. “The combination of a paid and practical experience just made so much sense to us.” He's the co-chief executive officer of Korman Communities, which functions as an operator and investor in a variety of real estate ventures and investment strategies across the United States and United Kingdom.
The family’s 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 hard-working 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 greaterpennstate.psu.edu