Liberal Arts

Alumni couple gives $2 million to endow director of Child Study Center

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Penn State alumni Arnold and Bette Hoffman have made a leadership commitment of $2 million to endow the directorship of the Child Study Center in Penn State’s College of the Liberal Arts. The couple announced the gift at an Oct. 12 University event honoring endowed faculty.

The Child Study Center is one of the college’s most important and far-reaching initiatives. Its faculty and graduate students promote children's development and well-being through the dynamic integration of research, undergraduate and graduate training, and engaged community outreach. Housed in one of the country’s leading psychology departments, the Child Study Center is a Center of Excellence in Penn State’s Children, Youth and Families Consortium.

Susan Welch, dean of the College of the Liberal Arts, said, "We are very grateful for Arnold and Bette’s foresight and vision in making another inspirational gift to our college. During the Grand Destiny campaign, they endowed the Arnold S. and Bette G. Hoffman Professorship in Family Sociology and Demography, a gift allowing us to recruit a leading scholar to the department and, later, provide critical resources to another distinguished faculty member, Paul Amato. This critical support that enabled us to bring such outstanding faculty to Penn State played an important role in the department’s high national rankings.’’

Arnold Hoffman said, “Our original focus was on student scholarships, but over the years, we’ve gotten to know the University and its needs. And we’ve come to appreciate how much the University needs resources to recruit and retain the best professors who discover new knowledge or innovate ways to solve some of the problems facing our society. ”

Arnold is a 1957 College of the Liberal Arts graduate in journalism, and Bette is a 1958 College of Health and Human Development graduate in home economics. Following graduation, Arnold worked for Westinghouse Electric Corporation and the Union Company and later had a successful career in mergers and acquisitions in Philadelphia and New York City. Later, he was a senior managing director at Legg Mason Wood Walker Inc. until his retirement. Bette served as a consultant for many years with Almo Corporation. They have four sons and 11 grandchildren.

For Penn State, Arnold and Bette have been transformative volunteer leaders and benefactors. Over the decades, the couple supported major University initiatives such as the Pasquerilla Spiritual Center, Bryce Jordan Center, Hintz Family Alumni Center and an Academic Excellence Scholarship for Schreyer Honors College students from the Montgomery County area. For the College of the Liberal Arts, the couple also established funds to support the Jewish Studies Program and graduate education in the college.

Currently, Arnold is a presidential counselor, chair of the Hillel Campaign and a member and former chair of the Liberal Arts Development Council. Penn State honored him as an Alumni Fellow in 1997 and as a Distinguished Alumnus in 2007. He and Bette are members of the Laurel Circle of the Mount Nittany Society. Arnold was a featured speaker at the recent Celebrating Faculty Endowments event.

The current director of the Child Study Center, Karen Bierman, has a successful record of pulling together high-powered multidisciplinary research teams, conceptualizing and conducting path-breaking research and taking research results and developing new ways to improve the education and mental health of children in Pennsylvania and beyond. She leads several projects that identify young children with social and emotional issues and develop intervention strategies with parents, teachers and community professionals to help children strengthen both their academic and social-emotional skills. Penn State recognized Bierman’s dedication with an award for distinguished service to parents, children and their communities.

“Over the years, Bette and I have been impressed with the Child Study Center and given its quality and our obvious interest in our grandchildren’s development, we have discussed with Dean Welch how we might support the center,” Arnold Hoffman said. “We have gotten to know its outstanding director, Karen Bierman, and she truly is a gem.”

Arnold and Bette Hoffman are leading supporters of the current University-wide fundraising effort, For the Future: The Campaign for Penn State Students. The campaign is directed toward a shared vision of Penn State as the most comprehensive, student-centered research university in America. The University is engaging Penn State’s alumni and friends as partners in achieving six key objectives: ensuring student access and opportunity, enhancing honors education, enriching the student experience, building faculty strength and capacity, fostering discovery and creativity, and sustaining the University’s tradition of quality. The campaign’s top priority is keeping a Penn State degree affordable for students and families. The For the Future campaign is the most ambitious effort of its kind in Penn State’s history, with the goal of securing $2 billion by 2014.


Penn State alumni Arnold and Bette Hoffman Credit: Penn StateCreative Commons

Last Updated October 25, 2012