Between a statement released by Penn State Football Coach Joe Paterno’s family penned by the legend himself, and today’s release of the Freeh report, it has been tough for the scrutinized university to stay out of the press. While the “saddening and sobering” report rehashes how key officials at Penn State concealed the details of child abuse, the university’s development team hasn’t had to pick up the pieces.
Despite the negative press, Penn State University has collected the second highest donation total in the school’s history, with more than $208 million in the past twelve months, going against the declining trend of the last two years (Associated Press). Along with the rise in dollar amount comes an increase in total contributors, with more than 191,000 individual donors supporting the university.
Rod Kirsch, Senior Vice President for Alumni Relations and Development for the university attributes the increase to a rally by alumni to support the institution through a difficult time. Interestingly, funding totals include amounts raised by THON (the university’s pediatric cancer initiative) as well as significant contributions from former or existing faculty, including Joe Paterno, whose family continue to make significant contributions to Penn State, despite his firing and passing.
As media coverage continues to shed light on misdoings by university officials and football staff, the question remains how long can the development department sustain donations and shelter their fundraising plan from donor trepidation?