A Perfect Partnership
They listen, learn, and act.
How one couple has incorporated the University into their vision for change.
A holistic approach
Norman and Marietta Mawby may not be alumni of West Chester University, but their ties to the University run deep. Working with the Foundation, they’ve tailored their giving plan to suit their means – and their dedication to the communities they serve.
After graduating from Penn State University and following his service in the U.S. Army, Norm enrolled at West Chester University to complete the teaching requirements he had begun at Oklahoma University. He earned a master’s degree in governmental administration from the University of Pennsylvania’s Fels Institute, Wharton School in 1965. In 1980 – due to his extensive experience in finance, planning, and development – he was nominated by the governor to join the WCU Board of Trustees. Marietta attended a summer session at West Chester while home on break from University of Michigan. She reconnected with the University during her time at Chester County Department of Children & Youth when she supervised undergraduate social work students.
“Our relationship with the University has evolved,” Norm says. He donated regularly during his time as a trustee and was heavily involved in the athletics program, helping to fundraise, and formed a close bond with baseball coach Neil Serpico and basketball coach Dick DeLaney – he even sponsored a team of WCU students as part of a summer college basketball league. “When we began to have more independence with our money, we saw that we could help, and our commitment was formalized in a different way.”
In 2015, the Mawbys established their Believe, Play & Have Fun Foundation at the Chester County Community Foundation to support their various philanthropic interests – including West Chester University’s social work department – and to encourage others to support these causes, as well.
After supporting the University for close to two decades, they established a complementary fund at the WCU Foundation named the Believe, Play & Have Fun Social Work Fund to benefit students at West Chester. Marietta’s field experience – and her membership on the undergraduate social work advisory board – has given her a unique understanding of the challenges social work students at the University are facing, and what they need most.
“It’s the little things like books and transportation to field placements that ensure a positive experience,” she says. “Those things help students to maintain the hope that they can get their degree.”
Dr. Desha Williams, dean of the College of Education and Social Work, echoes that sentiment.
“With the support of the book and travel grants for our social work students provided by the Mawbys, doors are opened, dreams are realized, and new advocates are put into the world to impact change,” she says. “We are so grateful for these grants, and so are our students.”
Norman and Marietta Mawby
Creators and Donors; Believe, Play & Have Fun Social Work Fund
“Our emphasis has always been on providing young people with opportunities for education. It’s fulfilling to see someone who starts in their career, and how they progress.” – Norman Mawby
“It’s the little things like books and transportation to field placements that ensure a positive experience,” Marietta says. “Those things help students to maintain the hope that they can get their degree.”
A second avenue
West Chester University has not been the sole benefactor of the Mawbys’ generosity. They have granted to student managers of the men’s and women’s basketball teams at Penn State University Brandywine; to the University of Pennsylvania’s Parkinson’s Disease and Movement Disorders Center; and to Riddle Hospital in support of continuing education for its physical therapy staff. Prior grants were awarded to the Fels Institute of Government for its programs to prepare students for roles as public leaders and managers. As a public leader herself, Marietta has served the residents of the Chester County community in roles for the Department of Children and Youth Services. She also served the Chester County Court of Common Pleas in Domestic Relations and Juvenile Probation positions.
Both Norm and Marietta have found that donating their time is just as fulfilling – Marietta served on the board of the Chester County Domestic Violence Center for ten years.
“Because you are not enmeshed in the daily grind,” she says, “you can help to make connections and bring in the resources they need. I have a master’s degree in social work, which was rare in the court system at the time. I wanted to integrate balance and restorative justice, to focus on prevention.”
Norm has a long history of serving the community. He has held positions for the Woodland School Board for 25 years and Whitehorse Village Retirement Community Board for 12 years. Norm served on the WCU Board of Trustees for 12 years, serving six as chairman.
“It gives you an opportunity to become involved with the people you are serving,” says Norm. “Our emphasis has always been on providing young people with opportunities for education. It’s fulfilling to see someone who starts in their career, and how they progress.”
The bigger picture
Norm and Marietta have witnessed the evolution of the University and share a mutual respect for President Fiorentino – they see real promise in the direction the University is heading. Marietta is especially excited about the University’s Philadelphia campus.
“West Chester made the major effort to reach out to Philadelphia, so the University was more accessible to families there – to students who don’t come from a traditional background,” she says. “They have a much better sense of the needs of the community.”
“To achieve social justice,” she continues, “we need to be able to communicate with each other – one person or one organization cannot dictate what is needed. That’s the hard work – the grassroots of change.”