University Park

Jaffe sets priorities as new President's Club chair

University Park, Pa. -- For 47 consecutive years, Bill Jaffe has made a gift to Penn State, starting with a $5 donation in 1961, the year after he graduated from the University. Now, in his new role as volunteer chair of The President's Club, the College of Communications alumnus will be asking others to give, too.

The President's Club offers special recognition to individuals whose annual unrestricted gifts of $2,500 or more provide critical resources for programs across the University.

"I attended Penn State on a scholarship, and I learned a lot in the classroom and on the campus," Jaffe said. "I've always felt an obligation to help the University in return for the great undergraduate experience I had."

He emphasized that he's not unique in feeling that way.

"The same thing motivates me that motivates at least 90 percent of all Penn Staters who get involved as volunteers with any part of the University -- we love Penn State and we want to give something back."

As chair of The President's Club, Jaffe becomes the group's "public face," the person who is out in front, communicating with members and prospective members, according to fellow alumnus Peter Tombros, who serves as volunteer chair of the University-wide fundraising campaign, For the Future: The Campaign for Penn State Students.

"Bill's the ideal choice to head the club," said Tombros. "He has a record of dedicated service to the University, the projects that he's been involved with and supported are diverse, and he's got a proven track record as a leader."

Professionally, Jaffe has spent the last 39 years as a human resources consultant. A Philipsburg native, he now lives in State College with his wife, Honey, a University of Miami graduate.

As a longtime Penn State volunteer, Jaffe been involved in the College of Communications Alumni Society, the All-Sports Museum, Penn State Hillel, the Penn State Parents advisory board, and many other activities. The Penn State Alumni Association named him an Alumni Fellow in 1996 and Volunteer of the Year in 2000. He also received the Lion's Paw medal in 2007 in recognition of his service to the University.

The Jaffes have targeted their philanthropy to support such far-flung Penn State interests as intercollegiate athletics, the College of Communications, public broadcasting, and the performing and fine arts.

They have also made unrestricted gifts, and that's where The President's Club comes in.

"A lot of alumni don't understand that unrestricted gifts are essential to Penn State, and they don't realize that they can direct their unrestricted gifts to the academic college or campus of their choice and still qualify for membership in The President's Club," Jaffe noted. One of his top priorities as club chair is to raise awareness of how unrestricted giving works.

Each college and campus, along with most major administrative units, have a "future fund" that the dean or chancellor uses to support projects of critical importance but for which traditional sources of funding are unavailable. These projects have ranged from student financial aid to instructional and research support.

"When you make an unrestricted gift, your support becomes available immediately, allowing your dean or chancellor to capitalize on opportunities to enrich the learning experience for students and faculty in ways that would never be possible without the kind of flexible funds you've provided," Jaffe pointed out.

He said another priority will be to encourage a greater sense of community among members of The President Club.

"We actually have a lot in common with each other," Jaffe said. "I'm going to try to build a feeling of belonging to a real club that offers important benefits to its members."

The President's Club's annual reception is scheduled for Sept. 19 at University Park.

For information about The President's Club, visit     

Bill Jaffe Credit: Penn StateCreative Commons

Last Updated November 18, 2010