UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Peter and Ann Tombros, longtime philanthropic and volunteer leaders for Penn State, have made a new commitment of $26 million that places them among the top five donors in the University's history. Their new gifts, which will come through their estate and their family foundation, will benefit programs across Penn State and create a University-wide endowment to fuel innovation and encourage other alumni and friends to support the institution.
“The love that Peter and Ann Tombros feel for Penn State has manifested in many ways over the decades, from their leadership in every major campaign to their support of our students, faculty and staff through great successes and great challenges,” said Penn State President Eric J. Barron. “This new commitment is a breathtaking declaration of their enduring faith in the University’s potential to lead the way in higher education and to transform the lives of Penn Staters and the future of the communities we serve.”
Through their new commitment, the Tombroses will create a first-of-its-kind fund for the University’s top leadership. The Peter and Ann Cullen Tombros Endowment will provide the Penn State President, guided by an advisory board of University leaders including the executive vice president and provost, the senior vice president for business and finance, and the vice president for development and alumni relations, with support that can be used to supply seed grants for pilot initiatives; foster philanthropy and volunteering among the Penn State community; and encourage other donors to support the University by providing matching funds for their gifts.
“The Peter and Ann Cullen Tombros Endowment is a truly visionary investment in the future of Penn State, and it will help us to cultivate the philanthropic and volunteer leaders who will follow in the Tombroses’ footsteps,” said O. Richard Bundy, III, vice president for development and alumni relations. “Our institution is immeasurably stronger because Peter and Ann have chosen to devote so much of their time, their passion, and their personal resources to creating opportunities for our students and faculty, and their legacy will inspire countless others to support the University.”
The new commitment will endow two leadership positions in areas that have long been priorities for the couple.
The Peter and Ann Tombros Dean’s Chair will provide a pool of flexible funding for the leader of the College of Agricultural Sciences, from which Peter Tombros earned a bachelor’s degree in 1964 and a master’s degree in 1968.
As fans of Penn State men’s basketball, the Tombroses are endowing the men’s basketball coach position, establishing a fund that will allow the Peter and Ann Tombros Head Coach to enhance opportunities for student-athletes through scholarships, travel, equipment, and other needs.
Through additional annual gifts, the couple is activating these endowments early, and the positions will soon officially bear the Tombros name.
Their landmark commitment will also support:
Two funds for the University’s medical enterprise — the Peter and Ann Cullen Tombros Endowment for the Penn State Center for Medical Innovation and the Cullen/Tombros Early Career Professorship in the College of Medicine — that will honor Ann’s father, late State College physician and surgeon Esker W. Cullen, and support new generations of health care researchers and leaders.
Additional funding for the Peter and Ann Tombros Musical Theatre Endowment in the College of Arts and Architecture, which supports the experience of students in the top-ranked, performing arts program.
“Over the years, we have had the pleasure of seeing Penn State and its students flourish in so many ways, and the honor of being a small part of that success,” said Ann. “The University has always been such an important part of our lives, and we are glad that we can establish these funds and provide support in perpetuity for the talented, ambitious students, faculty and leaders who will define what it means to be a Penn Stater in the future.”
The Tombroses’ relationship with Penn State dates back to their childhoods in the State College area. After earning his Penn State degrees, Peter went on to receive an MBA from the University of Pennsylvania, and he built a career in the pharmaceutical industry, first at industry giant Pfizer and later as CEO of Enzon, one of the nation’s pioneer biotech companies. Ann Tombros taught in public and private elementary schools before creating her own property management and design consulting firm.
The couple, who split their time between homes in New Canaan and Rowayton, Connecticut, and State College, Pennsylvania, have also had long volunteer careers with the University. Peter served as the volunteer chair of “For the Future: The Campaign for Penn State Students,” which raised $2.16 billion for the University between 2007 and 2014. Among other roles and positions, he has also donated his time as a distinguished executive-in-residence with the Eberly College of Science, where he was instrumental in expanding its BS/MBA program. Ann is a longtime volunteer leader for the University Libraries and the Palmer Museum of Art. Together, the Tombroses have also led by example with their gifts to a wide range of University programs, including support for multiple scholarships, faculty endowments, athletic teams, facilities projects, THON, and, in partnership with John and Jeanette McWhirter, the creation of the Tombros McWhirter Knowledge Commons in the University Libraries.
“Through both their giving and their leadership, Peter and Ann Tombros have had an impact across the University, and their generosity is an inspiration to Penn Staters everywhere,” said Matthew W. Schuyler, chair of the Penn State Board of Trustees. “They have fueled the ambition of our students and faculty, the dedication of our staff, and the vision of our leaders. And they have done so with humility and grace, always celebrating the ‘We’ in ‘We Are’ and prioritizing the success of our community over personal recognition. I am glad that we now have this opportunity to recognize all that they have done and all that their philanthropy will continue to do for Penn State and its students.”
“Penn State has enriched our lives in countless ways, and our support has been repaid a thousand times over, not only through the immense satisfaction of seeing the University rise to become one of the top institutions in the world, but also through the wonderful personal rewards of meeting so many Penn Staters and seeing what they can achieve with our help,” said Peter Tombros. “We hope that our legacy at the University will encourage others to find their own way of contributing to the success of Penn State and Penn Staters.”
The Tombroses’ commitment 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 serving communities and fueling discovery, innovation and entrepreneurship. To learn more about “A Greater Penn State for 21st Century Excellence,” visit greaterpennstate.psu.edu.