Opening Doors: Catherine Rein gives $500,000 to endow liberal arts scholarships

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Even though it happened more than 50 years ago, Cathy Rein, a 1965 alumna who earned a degree in labor management relations, remembers the feeling like it was yesterday.

“I was getting ready to start my junior year, and I almost had to drop out because I was $100 short on tuition for the next term,” she said. “A hundred dollars was a lot back then.”

Getting a student loan or a scholarship was difficult as well. Rein recalls talking to an adviser in the financial aid group who told her she might have to change her major to get the financial support she needed to finish her coursework. “There is some money available — but it’s industry money, and they aren’t interested in women,” she remembers the adviser telling her.

Fortunately, the head of her department at the time was more helpful — she had done some work for the department the previous quarter, and he worked with the University to make sure her compensation for that work was advanced in time to pay her tuition. “Having someone in my corner really helped me get through that,” Rein said. “For a time, I was really panicked about finishing my degree.”

Wanting to lessen the likelihood that future Penn State students would face similar circumstances because of financial need, Rein recently contributed $500,000 to create the Catherine Rein Open Doors Undergraduate Scholarship in the College of the Liberal Arts. As part of the "Greater Penn State for 21st Century Excellence" campaign, her gift will be matched 2:1 by the University’s Open Doors Scholarship Program — thereby increasing the endowment to $1.5 million. The Open Doors Scholarship Program will continue in its current form until June 30; after this date, the University will offer a 1:1 match for gifts of $50,000 or more.

“Even though there wasn’t a lot of money to help me back then, I realized there are always people who are willing to help,” Rein said. “Now it’s my turn — because of the people who helped me, I feel there is a responsibility for me to give back.”

“Cathy Rein has been a most generous supporter of the college and University for a very long time, and her scholarships have already enabled dozens of students to obtain a Penn State education,” said Susan Welch, dean of the College of the Liberal Arts. “I am so grateful for her latest gift that allows us to help students cross that finish line to their degree — students who otherwise might have to drop out because of a lack of money. I am thrilled to have these new resources to be able to help our students in this way.”

Rein said she chose to place her gift in the College of the Liberal Arts because of the impact a liberal arts education has had on her personally and professionally.

“Having a liberal arts education prepared me very well for law school — it gave me a much wider perspective, helped me analyze things more critically, and enabled me to think about things very differently than I would have otherwise,” she said. "And it enhanced my interests in the arts and diverse cultures, which led to my passion for travel and living in New York City.

“Being at Penn State truly enriched my life.”

Gifts from Penn State's alumni and friends have been essential to the success of the University's historic land-grant mission to serve the public good. To fulfill that mission for a new era of rapid change and global connections, the University has begun "A Greater Penn State for 21st Century Excellence," a fast-paced campaign focused on the three key imperatives of a public university: Private support will keep 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, visit

Cathy Rein, a 1965 labor management relations alumna, recently made a $500,000 gift to create the Catherine Rein Open Doors Undergraduate Scholarship in the College of the Liberal Arts. Credit: ProvidedAll Rights Reserved.

Last Updated April 26, 2018