Penn State fundraising campaign shows strong results after first year

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — The first year of Penn State’s latest fundraising campaign inspired alumni and friends to commit $304.6 million to programs and needs across the University, said President Eric J. Barron in a report to the Board of Trustees today (July 21). That result makes 2016-17 the third-best year for philanthropic commitments in Penn State’s history and a strong start to "A Greater Penn State for 21st Century Excellence," which is focused on fulfilling the University’s land-grant mission to serve the public good.   

“Our supporters have rallied to the campaign’s bold vision of Penn State’s leadership in higher education,” said Barron. “'A Greater Penn State for 21st Century Excellence' is an ambitious effort that reflects the vast potential of our institution to transform everything from how we think about educational access to how we meet our needs for water, food and energy. I’m encouraged by the success we’ve had during the opening 12 months of the campaign, and we will be working hard to continue that momentum in the remaining four years of 'A Greater Penn State.'”

The campaign also drew more donors from both within and outside the Penn State community, with an increase of 50,000 supporters over the previous fiscal year for a total of 222,448. Alumni participation grew by 5 percent, and one of the year’s most notable gifts came from the Penn State Alumni Association, which committed $1.5 million in scholarship support.

“More and more, Penn Staters choose to express their gratitude for their own success by giving back to the University and ensuring that future generations of students can find even more opportunities for growth and achievement at Penn State,” said O. Richard Bundy III, vice president for development and alumni relations. “As 'A Greater Penn State for 21st Century Excellence' continues, we will be asking alumni to imagine even bigger and bolder ambitions for the University and for their philanthropy.”

Barron pointed to the year’s landmark gift, a $30 million commitment from acclaimed television writer, producer and director Donald P. Bellisario, a 1961 alumnus, to name the Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications, as an example of how private support can transform the education that Penn State offers. Bellisario’s gift — one of the top five in Penn State history — is creating scholarships targeted to members and veterans of the U.S. military, endowing new faculty positions, and creating the Donald P. Bellisario Media Center, which will be the home to innovative new hands-on learning opportunities for communications students.

“Don’s gift is a powerful reminder that we should not limit our vision for what Penn State and Penn Staters can do in the world,” said Barron. “I hope that we’ll all take inspiration from this year’s success and join together to achieve the vision of 'A Greater Penn State for 21st Century Excellence.'”

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 door to higher education open and enable students to graduate on time and on track to success; create transformative experiences on Penn State campuses and around the globe that tap the full potential of Penn Staters to make a difference; and impact the world through discovery, innovation and entrepreneurship. To learn more, visit

Last Updated December 11, 2017