Larry and Lynne Brown endow professorship in McCourtney Institute for Democracy

Recent gift builds upon couple’s legacy of philanthropy in College of the Liberal Arts

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Supporting faculty whose teaching and research preserves and advances democracy in the United States and abroad is the motivation behind the latest leadership gift made by Penn State alumni Larry and Lynne Brown.

The Browns recently made a $500,000 estate commitment to create the Laurence and Lynne Brown-McCourtney Endowed Career Professorship in the College of the Liberal Arts. Matched dollar-for-dollar by the college’s Tracy and Ted McCourtney Endowed Professorship Matching Gift Program, the college can activate the endowment immediately — even before the estate gift has been realized — to establish a Brown-McCourtney Early Career Development Professorship. Upon receipt of the Browns' estate gift, the early career professorship will be converted to a fully endowed named professorship. 

The early career professorship, and eventually the endowed full professorship, will support the teaching, research, and public service contributions of a faculty member affiliated with the college’s McCourtney Institute for Democracy. The institute was created in 2012 to promote scholarship and practical innovations that defend and advance democracy in the United States.

Penn State alumni Lynne ('72, education) and Larry ('71, history) Brown. Credit: Penn StateCreative Commons

“Besides being the right thing to do and besides it being our responsibility as alumni, Lynne and I were motivated and inspired by the Democracy Institute’s work at a time when democracy itself is a subject of much debate on both sides,” Larry Brown said in announcing the couple’s gift.  “We were also inspired by the McCourtneys who took the initiative in creating these new professorships that will bring experts to the campus and help our students exercise their minds in planning for their futures, just like Lynne and I had the opportunity to do in the late 1960s and early 1970s. It is definitely a win-win.”

The Browns' recent gift is their most recent philanthropic gesture in support of the McCourtney Institute and other programs in the College of the Liberal Arts. In 2014, they endowed the Laurence and Lynne Brown Democracy Medal, an annual award and lecture that honors an outstanding individual, organization, or group for exceptional innovation in the advancement of democracy. The couple also established a fund to support graduate students in the Richards Civil War Era Center (RCWEC) and another fund to support internships at national parks for undergraduate students.

“Larry and Lynne have already made a huge contribution to the McCourtney Institute through their earlier gift creating the Brown Medal,” said Susan Welch, dean of the College of the Liberal Arts.  “Now they have generously provided further support for an outstanding faculty member whose interests will reflect those of the mission of the McCourtney Institute. I am very grateful to them for this wonderful gift.

“I also very much appreciate the amazing gift by Tracy and Ted McCourtney that has made these professorship matches possible."

Larry Brown received his bachelor’s degree in history from Penn State in 1971 and then went on to earn his juris doctorate from Villanova University in 1975. He began his career as an assistant district attorney for the City of Philadelphia and was appointed chief of the office’s Economic Crimes Unit in 1979. Today, he is a founding partner with the Philadelphia firm Brookman, Rosenberg, Brown & Sandler, concentrating on cases associated with asbestos exposure. Here at Penn State, he currently chairs the McCourtney Institute for Democracy’s Board of Visitors and sits on the college’s Development Council and the RCWEC Board of Visitors.

Lynne Brown received her baccalaureate in education from Penn State in 1972. After earning a master’s degree in counseling from Villanova University, she embarked on a distinguished 37-year career with the Philadelphia School District. She served as a classroom and program support teacher, counselor and instructional reform facilitator in the school district. Now retired, she volunteers in the local community and spends as much time as she can with her three grandchildren. Their son, Adam, followed in their footsteps as a Penn State graduate in 2002. Like his mother, he also taught in the Philadelphia School District, but retired earlier this year to devote all of his time to his real estate practice.

“When people ask Lynne and I why we support Penn State by volunteering our time and giving financially, we smile and say, ‘Because Penn State made us who we are today,’” Larry Brown said. “We appreciate what Penn State did for us, we are fortunate to be able to support the college and its students financially, and just as important, we are the beneficiaries of our involvement.  We have met a number of people through our involvement with the college, the Richards Civil War Era Center, and now the McCourtney Institute.  We have travelled together, planned for Penn State’s future together, and frankly probably had more fun than we deserve.

“We are also pleased with how Penn State has used the funds we have gifted to benefit undergraduates, graduate students, and committed individuals and professionals working for the advancement of democracy – and with our most recent gift, a professor who will pass along to future generations of students the knowledge and hopefully the inspiration so that they, too, will give back to students.”

The Browns’ and McCourtneys’ ongoing support helps 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 July 18, 2019