Special event officially dedicates Bellisario College

Alumnus Donald P. Bellisario and his wife, Vivienne, visited campus for the official dedication of the Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications. Credit: Trey Miller / Penn StateCreative Commons

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — An official dedication event on Friday, Oct. 20, christened the Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications at Penn State.

Nearly 200 people attended the event at Carnegie Building, which featured alumnus and University benefactor Donald P. Bellisario; his wife, Vivienne; and University President Eric Barron.

In April, the Bellisarios made a $30 million commitment to support Penn State communications students and faculty and to establish the state-of-the-art Donald P. Bellisario Media Center. The gift was one of the five largest individual gifts in University history. The Board of Trustees subsequently expressed its appreciation by renaming the college.

Bellisario, a 1961 Penn State graduate and a distinguished alumnus, created TV programs that changed the landscape of American television, including “Magnum, P.I.,” “Quantum Leap,” “JAG” and “NCIS.”

He and Vivienne had previously endowed the Donald P. Bellisario Trustee Scholarship with a $1 million commitment in 2006. That was one of the five largest gifts ever made through the Trustee Matching Scholarship Program. They have continued to support the fund over the years, which has helped about 350 past and current recipients. Many recipients have been, like Bellisario, veterans or active-duty service members. Bellisario has also donated important materials from his career, including scripts and video, for use in classes.

The official dedication of the Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications was another step to enhance the facilities and programs for Penn State students preparing for careers in digital storytelling and media.

Administrative offices and some classrooms for the Bellisario College are housed in Carnegie Building, and the Bellisario Media Center will be built inside Willard Building.

In September, Studios Architecture of Washington, D.C., was selected to design the media center, which will be housed on the ground and first floors of Willard Building, which was constructed in 1949. Studios Architecture has completed similar projects, such as a studio at Time Inc. headquarters and Mashable’s East Coast headquarters, both in New York City.  

The design phase for the media center project began immediately. The architects have meetings with Bellisario College faculty and staff on campus next week.

After the design phase, construction is planned to begin in December 2018, with the media center completed by the summer of 2020 and ready for students and faculty to begin working during the 2020-21 academic year.

Last Updated June 14, 2021