STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) – Penn State received more than $208 million in donations for the fiscal year that just ended, the second-highest total in university history despite the upheaval after the arrest of Jerry Sandusky on child sex abuse charges.
The school said Monday there was a slight uptick in the number of alumni who donated money or gifts in the fiscal year that ended June 30 to more than 75,500, reversing two years of slight declines.
“We’re very grateful – humbled really – to have this kind of response from Penn Staters, who I think have rallied to the cause … by the side of the institution through a very difficult time,” Rod Kirsch, senior vice president for development and alumni relations, said Monday in an interview.
The number of donors overall – which would include corporations and non-alumni – also rose slightly to more than 191,000. Donations included gifts for scholarships; as well as increases in giving to the football booster club and the annual student-organized dance marathon to raise money for pediatric cancer patients and research.
Only the 2010 fiscal year was more prolific for Penn State, when the school raised more than $274 million. What Kirsch described as a “bonanza year” for fundraising was due in large part to an $88 million gift by Terry Pegula, and founder and former president of an energy company involved in Pennsylvania’s burgeoning natural gas industry. Pegula earmarked the gift, which is the largest private donation in Penn State history, to upgrade the school’s club hockey team to Division I and build an arena.
Pegula has since increased his commitment to $102 million. He said at a groundbreaking ceremony in April that he didn’t waver even after the turmoil that embroiled the campus after retired defensive coordinator Sandusky was arrested in November. It led to the ouster of head coach Joe Paterno, a move criticized by some alumni and former players.
Sandusky is awaiting sentencing after being convicted of 45 criminal counts last month.