University Park

Public invited to March 20 celebration of Schreyer legacy

University Park, Pa. -- The public is invited to celebrate the life and legacy of William A. Schreyer, the pioneering Penn State philanthropist for whom the Schreyer Honors College is named, at a Memorial Mass on Sunday, March 20. The event, which begins at 2 p.m. in University Park’s Pasquerilla Spiritual Center, will include remarks from University representatives and some of Schreyer’s many friends in the Penn State community, including head football coach Joe Paterno and Schreyer Honors College dean Christian M. M. Brady.

Schreyer, chairman emeritus of Merrill Lynch & Co. Inc., and one of the University’s most prominent alumni and supporters, died in Princeton, N.J., on Jan. 22, 2011. A Class of 1948 graduate, he served his alma mater as president of Penn State’s Board of Trustees and as chair of its first major fundraising campaign. With his wife, Joan, he set a new standard for philanthropy to the University, making national headlines in 1997 with their $30 million commitment to endow the Schreyer Honors College. It was one of the largest gifts in the University’s history, and it created a new model for honors education nationwide. The Schreyers also supported other areas across Penn State, including the Schreyer Institute for Teaching Excellence, which is dedicated to nurturing outstanding teaching and student learning. The Schreyers renewed their commitment to the Honors college in 2006 with an additional gift of $25 million toward scholarships, study abroad and international opportunities, and programs emphasizing civic engagement and leadership.

“The Schreyer Honors College is truly the fulfillment of Bill’s vision and values,” said Penn State President Graham Spanier. “Through his own life, he showed that real leaders are dedicated to both excellence and ethics. Thanks to the Schreyers’ support and guidance, our students are graduating from Penn State prepared to follow in his footsteps and take on the challenge of conscientious service and leadership in an increasingly global society. His example and his generosity will continue to help our students and our institution to fulfill their vast potential.”

Schreyer was born on Jan. 13, 1928, in Williamsport, Pa., and he graduated from Penn State in 1948, receiving his degree from what is now the Smeal College of Business. Over the following decades, Schreyer rose through the ranks at Merrill Lynch to become chief executive officer in 1984 and chairman in 1985. During his forty-five years with the company, he helped it to become a dominant force in the global financial markets, and he is credited with helping to restore national confidence after the October 1987 crash with a television commercial in which Schreyer announced, “At Merrill Lynch, we are still bullish on America."

After the March 20 Mass, the Schreyer family will host a reception, also open to the public, at the Mount Nittany Club in Beaver Stadium. Those who will be attending the events are asked to e-mail their plans to Please contact Brenda Walker at or 814-863-4826 with any questions.

For more information about Schreyer’s life and achievements, please visit or

Last Updated October 17, 2019