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Hailed recently as "one of the rising stars among eastern schools of business," the School of Business at Penn State Erie has received a $20 million gift from a donor who wishes to remain anonymous. It is the third largest gift in Penn State's history.
Part of the gift will be used to establish graduate and undergraduate scholarships, allowing Penn State Erie to recruit the most academically promising students and to offer aid to those with financial need. Another portion will provide a permanent source of funding for library and information technology resources. Gift funds also have been designated to establish four faculty chairs, vital resources that can be used to attract and retain world-class teachers and researchers. The remainder has been set aside to support future initiatives in consultation with the donor.
"Penn State Erie continues to excel in its mission to contribute to the economic development of the region, and it is extremely gratifying to receive this gift in support of its efforts," said President Graham B. Spanier. The president was in Erie to make the announcement of the gift with John M. Lilley, Penn State Erie provost and dean.
According to Lilley, the goals for the gift were developed jointly between the donor and the campus administration.
Lilley noted his pleasure in being able to extend increased scholarship opportunities to students. Also on hand for the gift announcement was Edward P. "Ted" Junker III, chairman of Penn State's Board of Trustees and a longtime supporter of the college through his service on the Penn State Erie Council of Fellows.
"We are ecstatic about this record-setting gift," Junker said. "As the college prepares to celebrate its 50th anniversary as a Penn State campus, this is a wonderful reminder of the important role philanthropy has played throughout its history."
Penn State Erie was established in 1948 when Mary Behrend, widow of Ernst R. Behrend, a co-founder of the Hammermill Paper Co. in Erie, donated the couple's Glenhill Farm estate and its surrounding 400 acres to Penn State.
Junker, who is chairing Penn State Erie's portion of the University's capital campaign, also noted that the college has four schools including the School of Business, the School of Engineering and Engineering Technology, the School of Humanities and Social Sciences, and the School of Science.
"I hope the announcement of this gift will encourage others in the region to give serious consideration and support to Penn State Erie. The impact of this kind of gift on the vitality of the region is immeasurable."
"The scholarships and chairs will significantly enhance the quality of students who enroll in and the quality of the professors who accept positions with our School of Business," said John Magenau, director of the School of Business. A professor who is offered a chair receives annual funding over and above salary to support research activities, equipment needs and travel.
The University holds endowed gifts in perpetuity, investing the principal and using part of the income to support programs designated by donors. The remaining income is added to the principal to protect it from inflation and increase its purchasing power.
The $20 million gift to Penn State Erie is the second largest gift to be announced by Penn State during this advance gift phase of its capital campaign, following the gift of William and Joan Schreyer, who donated $30 million last spring to establish the University-wide Schreyer Honors College. The largest gift in Penn State's history was a $50 million donation from The Milton S. Hershey Trust and Foundation to establish The Milton S. Hershey Medical Center in 1963.
John Lilley, provost and dean at Penn State Erie, standing
second from left,
and John Magenau, director of the School of Business at Erie, seated at right, are joined
by business students Andy Liang, seated left, Peter Lemajic, standing left, Rick Kanoza
and Jen Beham. A $20 million gift to Erie will endow undergraduate scholarships,
graduate fellowships, faculty chairs and more for the School of Business.
By Lisa M. Rosellini
Giving credit where credit is due.
A simple, honorable notion -- in fact, an idea highly touted by most management manuals. It's a no-brainer. Acknowledging someone's performance, their thoughtfulness or their generosity comes naturally to those of us trained as children about the magic found in the words "please" and "thank you."
But what about people who desire no recognition but deserve considerable kudos?
On March 25, Penn State Erie received a $20 million gift that will have a serious impact on academic life at that location. The money, which will go toward scholarships, fellowships, the library, outreach efforts, faculty initiatives and endowing faculty positions, is the second largest gift to date in Penn State's current capital campaign and the third-largest in its history. And it came with a request for anonymity -- a peculiar twist to those not familiar with the philanthropic world.
"The motivations behind anonymous giving are as varied and diverse as the people who give," said Rodney Kirsch, vice president for development and alumni relations for Penn State. "The very act of philanthropy, particularly major commitments, is a deeply personal matter and the University takes seriously its responsibility to honor donor wishes.
"There are not just one or two reasons you can point to as a driving force behind anonymous giving," he said. "Changing circumstances allow donors to change their minds and identify themselves."
Karen Mack, a publicist for the Campaign for the University of California, Los Angeles, said her institution has had a number of anonymous gifts over the last several years. For the most part, according to Mack, donors wish to go unnamed because of issues of family security or because they don't want to be "pestered."
"We have one donor in particular who almost always gives anonymously," she said. "In our initial campaign he gave $5 million and recently gave more than $20 million. He keeps a low profile and likes it that way."
In 1996, UCLA received a gift of $45 million that, at the time, was considered anonymous. Nothing was revealed about the donors, but the money was going toward the construction of a neuroscience and genetics research building. Still the largest gift to date ever received by UCLA, the building now bears the name of the givers.
"We kept their names out of the press. These donors are Holocaust survivors who actually have two last names, because they changed it when they escaped to this country," she said. "The donors asked us not to reveal any information about them at that time and we did not."
Anonymous donors, particularly those that give sizable contributions, pique the interest of the public, according to Rita Shell, assistant professor of behavioral science at Penn State Harrisburg, because not only does the nameless individual lend an air of mystery to a gift that very few could match, but humans are curious and welcome a challenge.
"It's really a personality type," Shell said. "Some people are outgoing and enjoy the attention. Others might want to be altruistic, but shy away from the spotlight. Obviously this person does not want to have attention focused upon them, but they want to do something nice."
In some cases, Shell said, people may just prefer the intrinsic satisfaction or internal feelings of knowing that they have done something good.
The idea of "doing something good" is what prompted an unnamed donor to recently give $30 million to the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minn. The gift is believed to be the largest given anonymously to any college or university in the United States this year.
"This was the largest gift ever in our 110-year history," said Richard Weiland, executive director of development for the University of St. Thomas. "In this particular case, the donor wanted to have a tremendous impact at this institution, but didn't want to be plagued by calls from others seeking money.
"They wanted to give, but didn't want their vision clogged. The main thing that they sacrifice is the direct thanks from students. But they can still see the wonders and glories of their gifts as they watch faculty or students benefiting from the programs they have endowed."
In other instances, Weiland said many givers really do believe that giving is a personal matter, and it's best to "keep this candle under the basket."
"In my 20-plus years of experience in development I have found that some givers maintain the notion that giving secretly or privately is how giving should be done," he said. "They are driven from a more sacred or spiritual reason. The gifts can be $30 million or they can be $1,000 -- they are all important gifts. We prefer to thank our donors publicly, but our 11th commandment here is 'honor the wishes of the donor.' If they prefer to be anonymous, so be it."
Weiland said that those who donate are all moved to give for different reasons and, like Shell, he acknowledged that anonymous giving at this level does lend itself to speculation by outsiders and the media.
"Reporters do play a lot of guessing games, which could draw more attention to the gift and have it become a motivational factor for others in the community," he said. "In our case, the media was highly curious but I think that from a distance our donor is chortling, knowing that he or she has pulled this off and has really made a difference."
Penn State's Kirsch added that donors, whether anonymous or public, undertake the act of giving because they want their gifts to have an impact -- to positively change lives.
"I find anonymous donors, perhaps while intriguing or mysterious to some, to be every bit as committed to the cause they support as donors who publicly announce their intentions. And that is really the bottom line."
The gift of $20 million to the School of Business at Penn State Erie will help it move closer to its vision of becoming a nationally recognized school through integration of high-quality teaching, research and outreach activities. The school, which conducts research and provides expertise for firms in the tri-state region, offers degrees in the following:
-- business economics
-- business, liberal arts and sciences
-- management (including general, operations and management information systems) and
-- the MBA
By next fall, the school expects to introduce three new majors, including, management and international business; marketing; and marketing and international business.
Other highlights of the School of Business include:
* The school is home to the Economic Research Institute of Erie, (ERIE), which collects, analyzes and disseminates information about the economy of Erie County. With the support of grants from organizations like the Manufacturer's Association of Northwest Pennsylvania, Met-Ed/Penelec, and the Erie Conference on Community Development, ERIE has been able to provide information such as year-ahead forecasts of employment for the county, cost-of-living projections and a comparison of employment by industry in the county over the last 35 years. All of the data it collects and analyzes is made available free of charge. This research has resulted in an improved understanding of the regional economy and its links to the national economy. ERIE has been designated one of five research affiliates of the Pennsylvania State Data Center.
* Penn State Erie has just become a partner in the Premier FastTrac program through the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation's Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership in Denver, Colo. This will give the college the right to provide an exclusive array of courses for students interested in entrepreneurship, as well as strategic growth and operations planning for established area businesses.
Penn State Erie is offering the courses at the undergraduate as well as the graduate level, as an affiliate of the Small Business Institute. This summer, two aspects of the FastTrac program will be offered to the region's business community. Courses will be available for those considering starting their own businesses as well as for those who are seeking to improve their established businesses.
* The school is offering an innovative team-taught course to students enrolled in the Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine (LECOM) this semester, helping students learn about the business of being doctors. According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, health care is the largest small business industry in Pennsylvania. Early in the semester, the nine-member teaching team met with its class of 125 first-year medical students to explore their concerns.
The endowment will be structured as follows:
* $2 million will be used to create undergraduate scholarships, allowing the Penn State Erie School of Business to recruit students of the highest calibre. First priority will be given to business students participating in the Schreyer Honors College and Penn State Erie honors programs.
* $2 million will provide graduate fellowships for both applied and basic research projects, aiding local businesses in their role in the global marketplace.
* $3 million will be used to provide a permanent source of funding for library and information technology resources.
* $2 million has been designated to support executive continuing education
business outreach efforts. This will include support for outreach efforts as well as workshops and seminars which will promote the economic competitiveness of Erie and northwestern Pennsylvania, particularly in management information systems.
* $1.5 million will endow a chair in international business concentrating on areas including international trade, marketing and free enterprise.
* $1.5 million will support a chair in entrepreneurship, focusing on the creation and management of new business enterprises, addressing a critical need for the creation and development of new business enterprises in the region.
* $1.5 million will establish a chair in the management of technology, concentrating on the management of technological and organizational change needed to achieve global competitiveness in manufacturing.
* $6.5 million has been set aside to support future initiatives in consultation with the donor.
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