Campus receives $1.5 million for STEM-related initiatives

The John E. Morgan Foundation has generously presented a $1.5 million challenge match to help Penn State Schuylkill facilitate instruction in science, technology, engineering, and math-related (STEM) fields and provide financial assistance to students who wish to pursue a degree in a STEM-related major. The match is a donation that will be fully realized once the campus has successfully raised an equal amount of donations from alumni and friends of the campus, and must be met by the year 2020.

"Our campus community is very appreciative of the Morgan Foundation's generosity and long-standing commitment to Penn State Schuylkill," said Kelly M. Austin, Penn State Schuylkill chancellor. "The Foundation's enduring contributions will have a significant impact on future generations of students by funding world-class facilities and supporting talented students with financial need. This gift will ultimately strengthen our local community by advancing the education of tomorrow's leaders."

One million dollars of the match has been designated for renovations of the campus science center facilities, including the radiology technology, physics, and chemistry labs. The upgrades will enhance the classroom experience by making available a wider variety of technologies and enable innovations in educational delivery methods.

David Rill, program coordinator and instructor in radiological sciences, spoke about how this gift will benefit his students and the program. "These upgrades will significantly enhance our instruction in radiologic science, providing our students and graduates with access to state-of-the-art radiographic equipment in the field of diagnostic radiology."

Roy Heim, president of Heim Construction Co., Inc., and a member of the Schuylkill Campus Advisory Board, is involved in steering Penn State Schuylkill's future fundraising efforts. He hopes to encourage local alumni, friends, and businesses to contribute to the matching fund in order to meet the grant challenge, emphasizing the many ways the campus impacts their community. "If asked what organization would be most beneficial to the enrichment of my community, I would have to say a local university would be on the top of my list," Heim said. "Penn State Schuylkill is delivering a well-rounded, superior educational experience for local young adults. It provides hundreds of jobs, and it has a significant, positive economic impact on the local and surrounding communities. This historic contribution from the Morgan Foundation, combined with the matched funds that we hope to raise from our alumni and community business partners, will improve programs and facilities; help us to retain local, qualified graduates; and enable our campus to continue to build a strong community."

The gift also includes $500,000 in matching funds to create a $1 million endowment that will be used to fund scholarships for students who have a demonstrated financial need and wish to pursue STEM-related majors. The campus has already achieved this portion of the challenge match, receiving commitments from five donors.

Thomas Wylonis, Penn State alumnus and former resident of Frackville, Pennsylvania, is one of the donors who is helping to meet the match. "I can think of no better way to support young men and women in Schuylkill County, who have high academic capability, leadership potential, and an interest in STEM, but who lack the financial resources to attend Penn State, than to join with the John E. Morgan Foundation in establishing an endowed scholarship fund," Wylonis said. "My contribution of $200,000 to the endowment, matched by the John E. Morgan Foundation, will cover about half of the total cost for two students to attend Penn State every year into the future. Thank you, John E. Morgan Foundation, and congratulations to the future scholarship winners!"

John E. Morgan, who died in 2001 at age 89, earned prominence in the textile industry with his late-1950s invention of the waffle stitch, used in the manufacture of long underwear and blankets. He sold the J.E. Morgan Knitting Mills in 1984 and retired to a second career as a philanthropist, with Penn State Schuylkill, Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, and Penn State Intercollegiate Athletics among the beneficiaries. At the Schuylkill campus, his philanthropy in the 1980s made possible the construction of the John E. Morgan Auditorium. In 2012, the Foundation contributed $250,000 to support upgrades to the auditorium to enhance the campus and community facility. In 2006, the foundation created what at the time was the largest endowed scholarship in the campus' history, a $1 million Trustee Scholarship.

Alumni and friends like the John E. Morgan Foundation are invaluable partners in fulfilling the University's land-grant mission of education, research and service. Private gifts from alumni and friends enrich the experiences of students both in and out of the classroom, expand the research and teaching capacity of faculty, enhance the University's ability to recruit and retain top students and faculty, and help to ensure that students from every economic background have access to a Penn State education. The University's colleges and campuses are now enlisting the support of alumni and friends to advance a range of unit-specific initiatives.