Anonymous donors establish $10M nursing scholarship

Some of the nursing students who received scholarships from the anonymous new fund this academic year. Credit: Penn StateCreative Commons

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — A Penn State donor couple has made a gift of $5 million to endow a scholarship for students with financial need in the College of Nursing. It is the largest single gift received by the college in its six-year history. The University will match the gift 1:1 through a recently concluded Open Doors matching program, bringing the scholarship endowment total to $10 million. First preference for awards will be given to students from western Pennsylvania and rural regions of the commonwealth.

“The College of Nursing’s potential for impact on the health of communities across the commonwealth is vast, and these donors have recognized that potential through this remarkable gift,” said Penn State President Eric J. Barron. “Their support will help to address the commonwealth’s pressing need for health care professionals and allow recipients to forge meaningful careers in nursing, transforming their own lives. We’re very grateful for this generous gift.”

College of Nursing undergraduates who must meet the cost of a Penn State degree with loans graduate with an average educational debt of more than $42,500, higher than the University average of just over $38,000. Recipients of this scholarship will receive annual awards of up to $10,000, significantly reducing their debt and allowing them to choose potentially lower-paying jobs in geographic areas and medical fields with the most urgent need for nurses.

“The extraordinary couple who made this gift have been impressed by the excellence of Penn State’s nursing programs,” said Laurie Badzek, dean and professor of the College of Nursing. “In particular, they appreciate our work to prepare a generation of nurses with a solid grounding in geriatrics and community health.”

The gift will have special impact for the College of Nursing, which was established as a separate Penn State college in 2013. While it has already awarded 732 bachelor’s degrees, 55 master’s degrees, and 14 doctoral degrees, the college is working to build support among those who may not be nursing graduates but value the importance of well-trained health care professionals.  

“Nursing is a discipline that touches everyone's life at some point, and these generous donors are helping to ensure better care across the commonwealth,” said Susan Kukic, director of development and alumni relations for the college. “While they have chosen to remain anonymous, they are important role models whose vision for the future of our students and our college will, I hope, inspire others to consider how they can support excellence in nursing and nursing education.”  

Kukic welcomes contact from those interested in supporting the College of Nursing, and she can be reached at or at 814-863-8180.

This 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 fueling discovery, innovation and entrepreneurship. To learn more about “A Greater Penn State for 21st Century Excellence,” visit

Last Updated September 20, 2019