John E. Morgan Foundation provides funding to renovate auditorium

The John E. Morgan Auditorium at Penn State Schuylkill will be getting a $250,000 facelift, thanks to the John E. Morgan Foundation. A series of renovations and technical upgrades will enhance the much-used facility that serves the Schuylkill student body and nearby communities.

The Morgan Foundation made a $250,000 gift to The Pennsylvania State University Philanthropic Fund, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, which then directed the funds to Penn State Schuylkill.

The Morgan Auditorium is Penn State Schuylkill's principal performance venue. Constructed in 1982, the 260-seat facility hosts student and professional theatre productions, musical acts, community meetings, public information sessions, local grade school programs, theatre and musical classes, motion picture showings, and public lectures. Thousands of students and visitors are entertained or educated in the auditorium each year.

The upcoming renovations will likely include refinishing the stage floor, reupholstering or replacing seats, replacing acoustic wall panels, upgrading backstage equipment and furnishings, and purchasing new spotlights and microphones.

"The Morgan Auditorium is a vibrant place, alive with the arts, and with ideas, and with community conversations," said Chancellor Kelly M. Austin. "Penn State Schuylkill simply wouldn't be the same without it. We are extremely grateful to the Morgan Foundation for their generosity to The Pennsylvania State University Philanthropic Fund, and for the Morgan Foundation's determination to help maintain this important resource for our students and the people of the surrounding communities."

"Enhancing the cultural life of the people in eastern Pennsylvania was an important priority for John E. Morgan," said Jim Zigmant, president of the Morgan Foundation. "We're very pleased to contribute to that effort by ensuring that the Morgan Auditorium can continue serving the Schuylkill campus and community in a manner befitting his memory."

Morgan, who died in 2001 at age 89, amassed a fortune with his late-1950s invention of the waffle stitch used in long underwear and blankets. He sold his J.E. Morgan Knitting Mills in 1984 and retired to a second career as a philanthropist, with Penn State Schuylkill and Hershey Medical Center among the beneficiaries. Morgan provided much of the funding to construct the Schuylkill facility that bears his name. The Tamaqua-based John E. Morgan Foundation carries on his philanthropic work.

"By enabling this renovation project at Penn State Schuylkill, the Morgan Foundation has once again shown its deep commitment to the people of eastern Pennsylvania," said Rodney Kirsch, president of the Philanthropic Fund and senior vice president for development and alumni relations at Penn State. "We are very pleased to help facilitate the foundation's most recent investment in the Schuylkill Haven region."

The gift will also help Penn State Schuylkill to reach the goals of For the Future: The Campaign for Penn State Students, a University-wide effort directed toward a shared vision of Penn State as the most comprehensive, student-centered research university in America. The campaign is engaging alumni and friends as partners in achieving six key objectives: ensuring student access and opportunity, enhancing honors education, enriching the student experience, building faculty strength and capacity, fostering discovery and creativity, and sustaining the University's tradition of quality. For the Future is the most ambitious effort of its kind in Penn State's history, with the goal of securing $2 billion by 2014.