Hearst Foundation grant supports Bellisario Media Center

Open team spaces (blue area), like that to be named for the William Randolph Hearst Foundation, will facilitate collaboration among students working in the Bellisario Media Center. Credit: Penn StateCreative Commons

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — The William Randolph Hearst Foundation, one of the largest, most respected, media-related charitable foundations in the United States, has provided a $100,000 grant to support construction of the Donald P. Bellisario Media Center — a state-of-the-art facility at Penn State that will prepare students and faculty to collaborate, use the latest technology, and engage in groundbreaking storytelling.

Construction has begun on the $43.5 million project that will transform the oldest part of Willard Building, built in 1949, into the Bellisario Media Center. The 63,131-square-foot facility will impact all four floors in the building and will be a hub for student media at the University, and the new home, together with Carnegie Building, of the Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications.

The completed facility will benefit students — working in agency and corporate environments, film, journalism, television and more — in every major of the Bellisario College for years to come.

“The Bellisario Media Center will inspire students to perform at their very best while at Penn State, and it will prepare them to thrive within the kinds of media environments they will enter as professionals,” Dean Marie Hardin said. “The center will be, hands down, the most exciting place on campus for Penn State communications students and faculty. It will be a vital resource as we prepare the next generation of great digital storytellers.”

As recognition for its gift, the William Randolph Hearst Foundation Open Team Space will be named on the first floor of the building. The space is designed to facilitate the collaborative work that has become essential to produce great multiplatform stories. The space will allow student reporters, photographers, videographers, writers and designers to work together on projects that bring together a variety of elements. The space also can be used by students in other communication majors for collaborative projects in television and film production, as well as strategic communications.

“The Hearst Foundations are pleased to support the Bellisario Media Center, enabling the journalists of tomorrow to hone their craft across a range of evolving media disciplines,” said George Irish of the Hearst Foundations. “This gift reflects William Randolph Hearst’s penchant for embracing new technology to perpetuate journalism as a central tenet of our democracy, and we look forward to Penn State students and faculty benefiting from the center’s best-in-class resources.”

The Hearst Foundations are national philanthropic resources for organizations and institutions working in the fields of education, health, culture and social service. The Hearst Foundations identify and fund outstanding nonprofits to ensure that people of all backgrounds in the United States have the opportunity to build healthy, productive and inspiring lives.

The goals of the foundations reflect the philanthropic interests of William Randolph Hearst, the businessman, newspaper publisher and politician known for developing the nation's largest newspaper chain and media company, Hearst Communications.

The Hearst Foundation Inc. was founded in 1945. In 1948 Hearst established the California Charities Foundations, later renamed the William Randolph Hearst Foundation. Both foundations are guided by the same charitable mission.

An open design to encourage collaboration and creativity highlights floor plans for the Bellisario Media Center. The University Board of Trustees approved Studios Architecture of Washington, D.C., as architect for the project in September 2017. The media center will begin hosting classes as well as Bellisario College and student media operations during the 2020-21 academic year.

The media center is part of the transformative gift to Penn State by Distinguished Alumnus Donald P. Bellisario and his wife, Vivienne, in 2017. Their gift provided significant faculty and programming support and nearly doubled the amount of scholarship support available for Penn State communications students.

This gift from the William Randolph Hearst Foundation 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 June 14, 2021