CENTER VALLEY, Pa. — Three hundred people gathered on the ice at PPL Center on May 23 to celebrate the early accomplishments of “A Greater Penn State for 21st Century Excellence,” a University-wide, focused campaign that seeks to elevate Penn State’s position as a leading public university in a world defined by rapid change and global connections, and to officially launch the effort locally in the Lehigh Valley.
PPL Corporation CEO Bill Spence hosted the luncheon for local Penn Staters and announced that he and his wife, Denise, would be making a personal contribution to the campaign. Advancing a signature priority of Lehigh Valley Chancellor Tina Q. Richardson’s, the couple’s gift will endow a Collective Impact Scholarship, an initiative to allow local talent to thrive in the Lehigh Valley and support the growing needs of the region’s workforce.
“We are lucky enough to have an incredible Penn State campus right here in the Lehigh Valley. In fact, I pass by the campus every day on my way to work,” said Spence when addressing the crowd. “It’s a constant reminder of the school that helped shaped my life. Penn State provided me with a world-class education, and I want to make sure that we can give local students the same opportunity,” said Spence.
Spence graduated in 1979 from Penn State’s College of Earth and Mineral Sciences with a bachelor of science degree in petroleum and natural gas engineering.
“We are so grateful to Bill and Denise," said Richardson. "Their generosity will help students and directly impact their lives. With the support of donors like Bill and Denise, we will create an even greater Penn State Lehigh Valley to enhance and support the region."
Penn State President Eric Barron attended the event and shared how philanthropy helps the University have a stronger impact within the Commonwealth and around the globe.
“These are the first back-to-back years exceeding $300 million in our history. And we’re still building. So far this year, we have raised $320 million,” said Barron. “That early success is the result of your commitment to this University, and it shows a high level of support for our three campaign imperatives, which are Open Doors, Create Transformative Experiences and Impact the World. We are focused on raising funds for scholarships to open doors and provide access to students; for transformative education experiences like those offered at our 21 innovation hubs across the Commonwealth; and for research that impacts the world by tackling global challenges.”
Richardson offered her vision for the future of Penn State Lehigh Valley, including:
- the addition of an organic chemistry lab, which would allow for more undergraduate research opportunities for students and will help prepare them for their careers in healthcare, such as nursing or medical school;
- the creation of a LaunchBox Innovation Center, which will facilitate unique opportunities between industry and academic partners to prepare the next generation of entrepreneurs, as well as a skilled workforce; and
- the cultivation of Collective Impact Scholarships, which through the collective work of higher education, industry and the community, will help students graduating from a Lehigh Valley high school or community college to afford a Penn State education.
Penn State graduate and former Congressman Charlie Dent attended the event and shared how both of his children have benefited from a Penn State education, noting that his son attended the Lehigh Valley campus for a semester. Dent himself graduated in 1982 with a bachelor of arts degree in foreign service and international politics and was the recipient of the “Friend of Penn State” legislative award in 2016 for the significant role he has played in the continued improvement of Penn State.
Other notable attendees included Madlyn L. Hanes, Penn State vice president for Commonwealth Campuses and executive chancellor; Vincent Sorgi, class of 1993, senior vice president and CFO of PPL; Dave DeCampli, global chief compliance officer of PPL; Douglas Hochstetler, interim director of Academic Affairs, Penn State Lehigh Valley; and members from the Penn State Lehigh Valley Advisory Board and Lehigh Valley LaunchBox Advisory Board.
For photos from the event, visit the Blue & White Luncheon Flickr photo album.
"A Greater Penn State for 21st Century Excellence" is a focused campaign that seeks to elevate Penn State’s position as a leading public university in a world defined by rapid change and global connections. The Penn State Lehigh Valley campaign is $3.5 million. With the support of alumni and friends, “A Greater Penn State” seeks to fulfill the three key imperatives of a 21st-century public university: keeping the doors to higher education open to hardworking students regardless of financial well-being; creating transformative experiences that go beyond the classroom; and impacting the world by fueling discovery, innovation and entrepreneurship.
To learn more about “A Greater Penn State for 21st Century Excellence,” visit the Greater Penn State website. To learn more about giving to the Lehigh Valley campus, visit the Penn State Lehigh Valley Giving website.
Public Relations Specialist
Penn State Lehigh Valley