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Korners give back through establishment of scholarships, program funds benefiting College of Arts and Architecture, WPSU, Shaver’s Creek Environmental Center

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Barbara and James Korner

As Penn State administrators and faculty members, Barbara and James Korner have seen firsthand how many students struggle to afford a college education. That’s why they have established an Open Doors Scholarship as part of the University’s current fundraising campaign, “A Greater Penn State for 21st Century Excellence.”  

The couple has also made commitments to support the College of Arts and Architecture, WPSU and Shaver’s Creek Environmental Center through their estate. 

“As longtime members of the Penn State family, Barbara and James Korner have been staunch supporters of the University, helping it to grow and thrive,” said Nick Jones, the University’s executive vice president and provost. “By establishing an Open Doors Scholarship for students with financial need and by supporting a range of programs across the University, the Korners will have positive impacts for years to come.” 

Barbara Korner will retire in June 2019 after 12 years as dean of the College of Arts and Architecture. James Korner, who is currently serving as special assistant to the senior vice president for finance and business, will retire in April 2019. James Korner has also served as an adjunct instructor in the School of Hospitality Management and an assistant vice president in Outreach and Online Education.

In establishing their scholarship, the couple took advantage of a 2:1 University match available through the recently concluded Open Doors Scholarship Matching Program, which ultimately triples the value of their initial $30,000 investment. The Barbara Oliver Korner and James R. Korner Open Doors Scholarship in the College of Arts and Architecture will help undergraduate students with substantial financial need who are participating in a range of Penn State programs intended to help them stay on track toward their degrees. 

“For both of us, the most rewarding part of working at a university is seeing students grow and thrive. Too often students are burdened by extensive loans, part-time jobs and other factors that prevent them from making the most of their Penn State experience,” said Barbara Korner. “There was no question that, when deciding what type of gifts we would make to Penn State, a scholarship for students with financial need would be part of our plan. We benefited from scholarships during our own academic journey, and it has been an honor and pleasure for us to work with so many talented and creative students. We are grateful we are in a position to help current and future students complete a Penn State education.” 

Beyond their Open Doors Scholarship, the Korners have also pledged an estate gift to benefit areas across the University, including the establishment of a graduate scholarship in the College of Arts and Architecture and endowments for WPSU and Shaver’s Creek Environmental Center. 

“I have been honored to serve on the board of representatives for WPSU, and Jim and I want to continue to support this incredible community resource. The station’s radio and TV programming is unsurpassed in this region,” said Barbara Korner. “And Shaver’s Creek, also part of Penn State Outreach, is another local treasure that Jim enjoyed shepherding in his work and that became special to us. 

During their years at the University, the Korners, who are members of the Penn State President’s Circle in recognition of their cumulative annual giving, have contributed to scholarships and various cultural outreach programs, including the Palmer Museum of Art, Center for the Performing Arts, Penn State Centre Stage and Penn’s Woods Music Festival, among others.

“A Greater Penn State for 21st Century Excellence” is a focused campaign that seeks to elevate Penn State’s position as a leading public university in a world defined by rapid change and global connections. With the support of alumni and friends, “A Greater Penn State” seeks to fulfill the three key imperatives of a twenty-first-century public university: keeping the doors to higher education open to hardworking students regardless of financial well-being; creating transformative experiences that go beyond the classroom; and impacting the world by fueling discovery, innovation and entrepreneurship. To learn more about “A Greater Penn State for 21st Century Excellence,” visit greaterpennstate.psu.edu