Penn State, liberal arts connections prompt Degenharts to endow scholarship

A strong Penn State bond and an appreciation for the liberal arts prompted Carmella Mulroy-Degenhart and Mike Degenhart to create an Open Doors Scholarship in the College of the Liberal Arts. Credit: Photo providedAll Rights Reserved.

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Mike Degenhart and Carmella Mulroy-Degenhart have developed a strong bond with Penn State since first setting foot on campus more than a decade ago. They also appreciate the value of a liberal arts education and understand the role that philanthropy plays in contributing to a student’s academic success.

That appreciation and those connections are what motivated the two to create the Degenhart and Mulroy Family Open Doors Scholarship in the College of the Liberal Arts. As part of the “Greater Penn State For 21st Century Excellence” campaign, their $30,000 gift was matched 2:1 by the University’s recently completed Open Doors Scholarship Program – thereby increasing the endowment to $90,000.

Degenhart, currently Penn State’s assistant vice president for gift planning, credits his liberal arts education at the University of Wisconsin-Madison for preparing him to pursue his master of business administration and help him grow personally and professionally.

“The liberal arts provide a rigorous education — one that builds and sharpens the skills of critical thinking and analysis, enhances the ability to understand the political, social, and economic aspects of the world we inhabit, and teaches us to communicate effectively,” he said. “Having a liberal arts education prepared me for graduate business school and all that has followed.”

Mulroy-Degenhart, an alumna of Syracuse University, started her Penn State career in the dean’s office in the College of the Liberal Arts and is currently executive assistant to the president. She has also seen and experienced the impact of the liberal arts firsthand.

“Liberal arts courses teach a broad range of skills and are useful in any career field,” she said. “The liberal arts have enhanced my interests in diverse cultures and my passion for human services.”

The two provided a gift to support the college’s Paterno Undergraduate Fellows Program during Penn State’s previous “For the Future” capital campaign.

“Having the chance to meet several of the Paterno Fellows and see the benefits our first gift to the college provided prompted us to make a gift during this campaign as well,” Degenhart said. “The two-for-one match provided a wonderful opportunity to amplify our philanthropy and really make a difference.”

"A Greater Penn State for 21st Century Excellence” 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 July 18, 2019