Gardner family creates Open Doors Honors Scholarship

From left: Steve, Andy, Karen and Lisa Gardner.  Credit: Photo provided by the Gardner familyAll Rights Reserved.

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Unlike many of the school’s donors, Karen and Steve Gardner did not attend Penn State. As the parents of mechanical engineering student and Schreyer Honors Scholar Lisa Gardner, though, they have learned a lot about — and embraced — the University and its Honors College.

“We didn’t realize what a great opportunity Schreyer was,” Karen said. “Our daughter actually figured it out.”

The Gardners have created the Gardner Family Open Doors Honors Scholarship, which will support Scholars through the Complete Penn State program. The couple's pledge of $30,000 will be matched 2:1 by the University and support in perpetuity students who meet requirements for need.

Lisa originally wanted to attend college in a city, her parents said, but she chose Penn State over schools such as Wesleyan and Tufts Universities because she believed she could receive as many or more opportunities through the Honors College as at any of those schools. A rising senior, she has traveled to London, Edinburgh, Czech Republic, Singapore, and Kenya for study abroad opportunities and has held summer internships in Boston and Huntersville, North Carolina. She is a Scholar Assistant for the Honors College and active in the Penn State Triathlon Club and Engineering Ambassadors.

“Schreyer has shown that value to her through her first three years,” Steve said.

The Gardners, of Wynnewood, Pennsylvania, want to help grow the Schreyer Honors College’s reputation and expand its brand. They are both members of the Schreyer Parents Council and have spoken to high school guidance counselors as part of the council’s outreach committee. The family’s scholarship will help support students financially, but the Gardners also hope to help future students realize what their own daughter discovered.

“We think it was very important to get the word out about everything Schreyer has to offer,” Steve said.

The Open Doors Scholarship Program supports students who are enrolled in one of five programs the University has created to address the financial, academic and personal challenges that Penn State undergraduates may face while earning their degrees. The University is currently offering a 1:1 match to gifts of $50,000 or more to create new Open Doors Scholarships.

Open Doors Scholarships 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 hardworking students regardless of financial well-being; creating transformative experiences that go beyond the classroom; and impacting the world by fueling discovery, innovation and entrepreneurship. To learn more about “A Greater Penn State for 21st Century Excellence,” visit

Last Updated August 29, 2018