Alumni and supporters kick up their heels during Mont Alto campaign kick off

Penn State Mont Alto hosts western-themed 'A Greater Penn State for 21st Century Excellence' event
Mont Alto Campaign Event

President Eric Barron, right, and wife Molly, left, join Penn State Mont Alto Development Committee Chair Ellen K. Palmer, second from left, and Vice-Chair Christina Yoder, third from left, and her husband, Ryan, during Mont Alto’s western-themed campaign kick-off event.

Credit: Frank Maira

MONT Alto, Pa. ― “Had it not been for the scholarship support I received, I would not have been able to excel as a Penn State student,” said 2006 alumna Christina Yoder, Penn State Mont Alto campaign co-chair, as she expressed her appreciation to a room filled with Mont Alto alumni and supporters wearing cowboy hats.

Indeed, the scholarship support Yoder received while a student at the Mont Alto campus has set her career on a path to success. Since earning both associate and bachelor’s degrees from Penn State Mont Alto, she has earned a master’s degree and is now a doctoral candidate at other institutions and works as a professor of management at Mount St. Mary’s University.

A western-themed event on May 19 at the Mont Alto campus officially kicked off the campus' efforts in “A Greater Penn State for 21st Century Excellence," the University's current fundraising campaign. The event was not only complete with stirring words from Penn State President Eric J. Barron, Mont Alto Chancellor Francis K. Achampong and others, but it also gave those in attendance the opportunity to eat barbecue, swing a lariat, and kick up their heels during square and line dancing.

The "Open Doors" imperative of “A Greater Penn State” will keep a Penn State education within the reach of working families, according to Barron. Barron also noted the other two campaign imperatives of "Create Transformative Experiences" and "Impact the World."

With about one-third of the time elapsed for the five-year campaign, Achampong reported that Mont Alto has already raised $2.2 million toward its $4 million campaign goal.

“Since 75 percent of Mont Alto’s campaign goal is focused on Open Doors, much of the monies already raised have bolstered the campus’ scholarship endowment, giving support to 44 percent of our student population over the last academic year,” Achampong said.

Additional Penn State Mont Alto campaign initiatives noted by Achampong include: improving human health by training and graduating nurses who have received a top-notch, cutting edge education enhanced by the latest simulation technologies; being a driver of economic development by supporting the creation of new ventures and growth of existing ones; offering students transformative learning experiences by exposing them to the arts and humanities and providing them opportunities to expand their global horizons through study abroad.

Jim Ingram, a 1983 alumnus and volunteer campaign chair for Penn State’s Commonwealth Campuses, said the campaign will have a transformational impact on the University and across Pennsylvania at its Commonwealth Campuses. He could not attend but sent a video message for the occasion.

Ingram and his wife, Barbara, a member of the class of 1985, previously established a scholarship in his father’s name, Jack Ingram. Since then, they have seen how scholarship support affects Mont Alto students.

“We have heard students share their dreams and aspirations. We have also heard about their financial challenges and how scholarship support can help them to stay in school and graduate,” he said.

Until June 30, those who fund an Open Doors Scholarship through the University’s Open Doors Scholarship Matching Program will receive a 2:1 University match on their scholarship commitments of at least $30,000. After this date, donors can leverage a 1:1 University match for commitments of at least $50,000.

"A Greater Penn State For 21st Century Excellence" has a fundraising goal of $1.6 billion over a five-year period that began in July 2016. To date, the campaign has raised $675 million and is on track to have one of its best fundraising years on record, having already raised $324 million this year.

“All of you play an important role in the overall campaign to create 'A Greater Penn State,'” said Barron. “During our first year, we surpassed $300 million, and this year, we did it again. These are the first back-to-back years exceeding $300 million in our history. And we’re still building.”

If you would like to discuss how you might impact the Penn State Mont Alto campaign with your philanthropic support, contact Randall Ackerman, director of campus development, at [email protected] or 717-749-6116.

More photos from the event are available here

"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 21st 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