The Penn State Alumni Association has announced that it will contribute $300,000 to help launch an undergraduate research initiative at Penn State. The Alumni Association’s gift provides seed-money for the program and continues a tradition of philanthropy unmatched in American higher education.
The Association’s contribution comes from its Margin of Excellence fund, created in 2000 as a permanent endowment to support annual gifts to the University. “We’re proud to be providing the leadership gift for this exciting program,” said Lewis Gold ’59, chair of the Margin of Excellence committee and vice president of the Alumni Association. “This program will provide students with hands-on learning opportunities that will open the doors to inquiry and creativity.”
The $300,000 commitment will be used to launch the Student Discovery through Undergraduate Research program. Earnings from the endowment will provide fellowships to support students while they are involved in research, small grants to support faculty-undergraduate collaborative research, small grants to help students travel to professional conferences to present their research, and funding to support course development for faculty to integrate undergraduate inquiry and research opportunities.
“One of the unique features of studying at a research university is that undergraduate students have opportunities to work side-by-side with professors who are making the latest scientific discoveries, developing cutting edge technologies, and leading the country in the arts,” said Jan Jacobs, vice provost for undergraduate education and international programs.
“Our goal is to engage undergraduate students in research and creative discovery at several points in their college careers,” Jacobs said. “Through this generous contribution by the Penn State Alumni Association, undergraduate students will have an opportunity to participate in ongoing research activities that will extend classroom learning beyond the boundaries of the campus.”
The Alumni Association’s gift is just the latest in a long tradition of philanthropy to the University. Since 1988, the Association has contributed more than $11.5 million to Penn State. In an unprecedented event in American higher education, the Association established its own endowment, called the Margin of Excellence fund, with the earnings earmarked for annual philanthropy to the University. Since the initial gift in 2001, the Association has donated $1.45 million to the University from the fund.
“Engagement in research and other creative pursuits at the undergraduate level will provide our students with the experience necessary to excel in graduate school and their professional lives,” said Alumni Association president Marianne Alexander ’62. “This gift also allows us to continue with our vision to be the national exemplar of how an alumni association constantly contributes to the betterment of its alma mater.”
With more than 146,000 members, the Penn State Alumni Association is the world’s largest dues-paying alumni association. The organization is committed to a mission of connecting alumni to the University and to each other; providing valued services to members; and supporting the University’s mission or teaching, research, and service. Through the collective power of its members, the Alumni Association is making Penn State an even better place for current and future generations.