Eric Barron Remarks
Renaissance Fund dinner
Honoring PSAA

Tuesday, November 17, 2020
7:00-7:55 PM Zoom


Good evening. Molly and I wish to add our warmest welcome to the Penn State family who have joined us to celebrate the Penn State Alumni Association and what it means to our community.

With us is a distinguished group—members of the Penn State Board of Trustees, as well as much of the past and present leadership of the Alumni Association. Everyone shares a bond that has been forged and strengthened through the PSAA.

I’m very pleased to speak tonight about our incredible alumni association, and its long and rich history. It has been a mainstay of university life since its founding in 1870.

In 1898, it received a public relations boost from a student writing for The Free Lance, which was the precursor to The Daily Collegian. He wrote, “It is assumed that every graduate will desire to connect himself with the organization and cheerfully aid in its efforts.” He also noted, “It is now fast becoming a strong body capable of doing good work for the College and it is earnestly hoped that it will promptly assert its power in favor of this thriving institution.”

At the time, there were only about 400 graduates, but the membership came together to provide a $200 scholarship to a worthy student. That tradition has continued through the years, and the Penn State Alumni Association Renaissance Fund is a wonderful tribute to that philanthropy. Plus, it goes right to the core of the interests of the Alumni Association – that is, helping our community.

The PSAA provides countless benefits to alumni and friends, including supporting vital areas of our university. Plus, it’s a treasure-trove of university history, and most of all, it’s fun. The Penn State Alumni Association is a champion of the “We Are” spirit around the globe.

But perhaps the most profound contribution made by the Penn State Alumni Association was summed up by an article in The Daily Collegian published in November of 1942.

It said, quite simply, “The Alumni Association knows all.”

What’s more, “it tells all” when it comes to connecting alumni through its powerful network.

When that article was written, Penn State alumni numbered 30,000. Today, there are more than 700,000 living alumni. One in 106 Americans with a college degree is a Penn State graduate. That number is 1 in 10 among Pennsylvanians.

The power of the Penn State alumni network is at work every day—connecting our students and alumni, and driving career success in every field, in every corner of the world.

It’s little wonder Penn State was ranked the No. 1 most ‘powerful college network’ and is highly valued by alumni and friends alike. It has been an enduring presence at Penn State, and I’m thrilled it will now be part of the Renaissance Fund scholarships, which are so important for our students.

Last year, 729 Renaissance Fund scholarships were awarded to Penn State students. The award amount was $1,500.

Of those students, 49% of the scholarship recipients came from first-generation families, 41% are from families with an income at or below 150% of the poverty level, and 51% come from single-family homes. Notably, the median Grade Point Average of our Renaissance Scholars for the last academic year was 3.69, and these students serve as leaders inside and outside the classroom.

The Penn State Alumni Association Renaissance Fund scholarship will allow us to continue our heritage of providing access to education for academically strong students who demonstrate the highest need.

To Paul Clifford, his wonderful staff and volunteers, and everyone who is part of the Alumni Association, on behalf of Penn State, congratulations on this honor. You have kept generations of students, faculty, staff and alumni informed, enlightened, and entertained. The Association’s commitment to the welfare of others is a model for success. Thank you for all you do.

Now, I’d like to invite George Henning Jr. to say a few words. George is president of the Renaissance Fund’s board of directors. He received a B.A. from the College of the Liberal Arts in 1963, and an MBA from Harvard Business School in 1965. George is a member of Lion’s Paw and Skull & Bones, and he served for two terms on the Board of Trustees after being elected by the alumni. He is also an Honorary Lion Ambassador, so I suppose that means he can walk backwards around campus. George...