Individual donors and partner organizations are propelling WCU students to greater success. Discover the latest happenings from across our Foundation’s initiatives.
Legacy Society Members Explore WCU History
Special Collections Librarian Ron McColl presented the Shakespeare First Folio, which came to the United States in 1895. It was eventually acquired by William Pyle Philips, son of George Morris Philips, the first principal of West Chester Normal School. While a student there, Philips honed his interest in English literature under the inspiring instruction of Dr. Francis Harvey Green, the library’s namesake. His father is remembered as an esteemed educator who demonstrated an unwavering commitment to the success and legacy of WCU.
More than 400 alumni, faculty, staff, friends, and benefactors have expressed their commitment to West Chester University by including the Foundation in their estate plans — their partnership will support future generations of Golden Rams for years to come.
All Presidents' Gala Raises Over $150,000
Each year, West Chester University’s Annual Presidential Scholarship Community Gala attracts numerous friends from throughout the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to an annual benefit organized to fund Presidential Scholarships for West Chester University students who have earned academic distinction. Funded entirely by private donations and since its inception in 1983, the Annual Presidential Scholarship Community Gala has raised more than $2 million dollars for West Chester University students through a renewable, four-year Presidential Scholarship.
This year’s critical-need benefit did not disappoint. Following an unprecedented two years, the 39th gala made its in-person return on Saturday, April 2, at Longwood Gardens. The All Presidents’ Gala, which was inspired by the University’s sesquicentennial and the tireless work of past presidents to move the University forward, was a resounding success as it raised more than $150,000.
More than 340 guests honored the University’s longstanding legacy of student success and teaching excellence by attending the premier event that was made possible thanks to Presenting Sponsor Aramark and numerous corporate sponsors. West Chester University President Christopher Fiorentino and Susan Fiorentino shared co-hosting roles with Gala co-chairs Patricia and James P. Shinehouse. A 1980 alumnus, James P. Shinehouse is a founding partner at Atlantic Financial Advisory Partners, and Patricia Shinehouse worked as a medical editor for a nursing publication company and has been a Stephen Minister.
Among those leaders honored at the Gala were former University president Greg Weisenstein and former acting president Linda Lamwers, who also delivered remarks on behalf of former president Madeleine Wing Adler.
In written remarks, former president Adler stated, “Dr. Fiorentino and these leaders need your support: your volunteering, your advocacy, and, yes, your financial contributions…This is why in December we committed an additional $25,000 to student scholarships in the fund named for my late son, J. Peter Adler. Whether you support students, or faculty and staff development, or unique University programs, it preserves the legacy of this University, the jewel in the crown of public higher education in Pennsylvania. Expect excellence and support excellence.”
Jacquelyn North, a 1981 alumna and co-chair of 150Forward: The Campaign for West Chester University, spoke about the power of student scholarships during a time of need. “To me, scholarships make the impossible possible. To students, a scholarship can determine whether they walk across the stage at graduation or not. In addition to supporting the President’s Scholarship, I am elated to pay it forward through the creation of my own scholarship, the North Family First-Generation College of Business Scholarship.”
“We are all here as leaders whose efforts will broaden access to scholarships, assist WCU with technological innovation and propel tomorrow’s leaders by creating opportunities on campus, in our workforce and in our communities,” said James Shinehouse during his remarks to those in attendance. “Pat and I are happy to announce our newest commitment to equip these leaders with the skills they need to reach their full potential, a $100,000 endowment for international travels/study abroad. These monies will give our students the opportunity to experience the world and bring back to campus a new perspective.”
The evening was all about West Chester University students. Attendees were impressed by the University’s participating ROTC students and Opera Theatre performers as well as members of the Incomparable Golden Rams Marching Band, and the Golden Rams Society.
“For 39 years, we have raised more than $2 million for student scholarships,” said President Fiorentino, who remarked that he has been with the University for the same amount of time. “As a University practice, it remains important to intentionally uncover and then remove barriers that impede student success. Scholarship assistance, housing, food, basic goods, and services— our students continue to need support.
We are grateful for your efforts, because they make a significant difference in the lives of well-deserving and academically talented students. We must continue this kind of ambition on their behalf.”
This year’s incoming class of academic scholars includes Noelle Clavner, Jordan Coleman, Enrique Del Leon-Raya, Laina Harding, Kya London, Kayla Ruff, and Katelyn Skarupa.
Gala Sponsors: Presenting Sponsor: Aramark. Diamond Sponsor: Truist. Entertainment Sponsor: Hobbs & Company, Inc. Gold Sponsors: H.B. Frazer Company; Lamb McErlane PC; Meridian Bank; Obermayer Rebmann Maxwell & Hippel LLP; S&T Bank; Patricia & James P. Shinehouse ’80; Sodexo; WCU Alumni Association; and West Pharmaceutical Services, Inc. Silver Sponsors: Citadel; Dilworth Paxson LLP; The Elite Group; First Bank; Jobsite Products, Inc.; NJM Insurance Group; Red River; Sunset Hill Jewelers & Fine Arts; and TD Bank. Bronze Sponsors: Baker Tilly; CALECO Laundry; Fox Rothschild LLP; KCI/MBP Joint Venture; Martin’s Financial Consulting Group – Ameriprise; Philadelphia Phillies; The Protection Bureau; Radius Systems; Rainer & Company; and SEI Investments Company.
Charter Day of Giving Raises $101,678
Thank you for joining in with hundreds of alumni, faculty and staff members, students, families, and friends to show your Ram Pride.
Student Services, Inc. Presents $3.5 Million Gift to WCU
As the largest cash donation ever made to West Chester University, a $3.5 million gift from Student Services, Incorporated (SSI) will be presented during a Gift Agreement Signing and Check Presentation Celebration on Tuesday, March 22, at 3 p.m. in the University’s Philips Autograph Library, 700 South High Street, West Chester. SSI Chair of the Board of Directors Bernie Carrozza and SSI Executive Director Donna Snyder will publicly sign the gift agreement and present the transformational check to West Chester University President Chris Fiorentino. The presentation of the historic gift coincides with the University’s 150th anniversary this year; a celebratory toast will follow.
The SSI Board of Directors approved a special resolution to support donating to the largest comprehensive campaign ever launched to fund WCU students’ immediate needs — 150Forward: The Campaign for West Chester University. The gift, which will provide a perpetual source of annual funding through earned interest, will establish the Student Services Incorporated Presidential Endowment. The endowment will enable the University to provide the additional support needed to fuel student-related priorities, student scholarship/financial aid, academic and co-curricular programs, and technology initiatives.
“SSI has a long history of being a passionate supporter of West Chester University students,” says SSI Chair of the Board of Directors Bernie Carrozza. “We are happy to be able to help provide the type of resources and support that will enable bright minds and dreams to flourish. This endowment is quite intentional. It offers the flexibility to seize opportunities or to make strategic investments in initiatives and priorities focused on achieving the University’s mission of student success.”
The historic gift enables the student-focused campaign to move beyond the $50 million mark. Thanks to the unwavering support of donors who welcome the opportunity to help students navigate academic journeys, the campaign has reached 77% of its goal to raise $65 million by June 30, 2024.
“We are overwhelmed with the generosity of this gift,” says West Chester University President Chris Fiorentino. “SSI continues to demonstrate to our students that the organization believes in their abilities and continues to welcome making lasting investments in their educational goals. We are grateful to be able to align with a partner who has provided an intentional investment in the future of this University and in generations of students to come. I can think of no better way to honor West Chester University’s 150 Anniversary and to prepare for the next 150 forward.”
About Student Services, Incorporated
Student Services, Incorporated (SSI) is a not-for-profit organization designed to serve the students of West Chester University. The objective of the corporation is to initiate, regulate, and operate the financial matters of the University’s co-curricular student activities.
Largest Campaign in University's History Surpasses $46 Million to Support an Even Greater Number of Students
As the spring semester begins, West Chester University has secured $46 million in its goal to raise $65 million by June 30, 2024 as part of 150Forward: The Campaign for West Chester University. As the largest comprehensive campaign in the University’s history, the efforts are designed to help an even greater number of WCU students secure specific needs: more scholarships; increased opportunities for academic, civic and professional opportunities; and ready access to technological advancements.
Coinciding with the University’s 150th anniversary celebrations this year, the campaign has reached more than 70% of its goal thanks to those who are dedicated to helping hard-working students excel academically. Intentional about fueling these students’ academic dreams are Clinton, NJ resident Dawn Swope Apgar and West Chester, PA resident Charles (“Chuck”) E. Swope, Jr., cousins who hail from three generations of families committed to nurturing student success. Their grandfather, Charles S. Swope, served as president of West Chester State Teachers College. Their grandmother, Edna, and their own fathers, Richard M. Swope and Charles S. Swope, formed The Swope Foundation in 1960, which has provided more than one million dollars in scholarship funds to West Chester University students.
The goal of the Dr. and Mrs. Charles Swope Scholarship Foundation has been to ensure that students receive financial assistance so they can attain their higher education goals. Charles and Edna Swope, both graduates of West Chester State Normal School in 1921, donated to the church, supported their families who had fallen on hard times, and gave all the produce from their garden to neighbors and friends in West Chester. The family ethos has always been to work hard and save so that gains could work for family members, friends, and be used to help others.
Dawn, an assistant professor and assistant chairperson for the Department of Sociology, Anthropology, Social Work and Criminal Justice at Seton Hall University in South Orange, NJ, and Chuck, a broker of record and chairman of Swope Lees Commercial Real Estate, LLC in West Chester, see themselves as stewards of this Swope family mission today.
“Our grandparents, then parents, recognized the world is shaped by the great minds of the future,” said Dawn. “They felt it’s important to pay it forward by investing in bright, motivated students.”
To ensure their educational legacy, Dawn and Chuck recently completed the strategic transition of the family Foundation into a memorial endowment.
“We wanted to leverage the institutional capabilities of the West Chester University Foundation,” said Chuck. “We like knowing that there is a plan for the future, and it allows us to focus less on the business aspects and more on the students.”
For the Swopes, those relationships anchor their family’s mission to continue to make a difference where it matters most.
“Our Foundation is now in its fourth generation, and I’ve still stayed in contact with past recipients,” said Dawn. “Our hope is that the scholarships are an example of how students can feel connected — with one another and with our family.”
“The seeds of student success at West Chester University were first sown by the Swope family and continue today,” said West Chester University President Chris Fiorentino. “All of us are truly grateful to this family for committing their lives and resources to making sure hardworking students have access to an exceptional education, as well as to the tools that enhance their abilities. We hope others will be inspired by the Swope family’s example, their generosity, and their belief in the difference that West Chester University students can make in the world.”
First Resource Bank Supports Frederick Douglass Institute
First Resource Bank has generously awarded WCU Foundation $2,500 to support the Frederick Douglass Institute’s K-12 outreach programs. WCU Foundation is eligible as an Educational Improvement Organization (EIO) under Pennsylvania’s Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) program. The Frederick Douglass Institute runs educational enrichment programs throughout the academic year in Coatesville and Norristown Area School Districts. Viewed left to right: Deb Cornelius, Chief Development Officer, WCU Foundation; Dr. Christian Awuyah, Director, Frederick Douglass Institute; Lee Herzer, VP for Commercial Lending, First Resource Bank; and Chris Mominey, CEO of WCU Foundation.
Essential Utilities Presents $75,000 Check to WCU Resource Pantry
In survey data collected last year, approximately 40% of WCU students reported experiencing some type of basic-need insecurity, including not having enough food to eat. During this season of thanks and giving, Essential Utilities is stepping up in a big way to assist WCU students who depend upon the services provided by the University’s Resource Pantry. Chairman, President, and CEO of Essential Utilities Christopher Franklin ’87 visited the on-campus Resource Pantry on November 18 to present WCU President Chris Fiorentino with a generous gift of $75,000 from Essential Utilities to help expand the Resource Pantry’s reception and intake area. Understanding the importance of confidentiality, the generous gift will also fund the purchase of tablets that will enable student customers to initiate self-checkout of food and personal-care items in private.
Since the Resource Pantry opened its doors in 2016, demand has increased ten-fold. During the previous in-person academic year (2018-19), the Pantry served more than 800 students and recorded 5,100 total visits. During that time, it also distributed nearly 20,000 pounds of food; 16,000 personal care products; 2,600 school supplies; and more than 650 articles of clothing.
“Essential Utilities is honored to support the West Chester University Resource Pantry to minimize food and basic-need insecurities,” said Mr. Franklin, who knows firsthand about WCU students’ needs as he currently serves as a member of the University’s Council of Trustees and is a WCU alumnus. “As a company committed to providing safe and reliable access to the earth’s most vital resources, Essential recognizes that basic needs are critical to everyday life. We hope this donation will enable the Resource Pantry to help those who find themselves needing some additional support now as well as those who may one day reach out to seek assistance in the future.”
The Resource Pantry is open to all WCU students and is central to upholding the University’s mission to ensure student success and provide access to a college education, regardless of financial circumstances. Offering a supply of non-perishable food, fresh produce from campus gardens, personal care items, school supplies, and winter and career clothing, the Resource Pantry helps eliminate barriers to degree completion and empowers students to learn independent living skills and achieve long-term stability.
“West Chester University is truly grateful to Essential Utilities for supporting our students in such an impactful way,” said President Fiorentino. “This company’s actions demonstrate what it means to truly meet students where they are currently in their lives. By providing the basic resources that our students need to live as well as to excel, Essential Utilities is investing in their overall success and helping this University make a bold statement that it will work to ensure access to hardworking students no matter what their financial situations may be.”
Essential Utilities is a Diamond Sponsor of WCU’s 150th Anniversary Celebration and a continued partner in helping WCU students advance inside the classroom as well as outside the classroom. Under its former company name of Aqua America, the utility company previously gifted $50,000 to the University’s College of Business and Public Management.
About Essential Utilities
Essential is one of the largest publicly traded water, wastewater and natural gas providers in the U.S., serving approximately 5 million people across 10 states under the Aqua and Peoples brands. Essential is committed to excellence in proactive infrastructure investment, regulatory expertise, operational efficiency and environmental stewardship. The company recognizes the importance water and natural gas play in everyday life and is proud to deliver safe, reliable services that contribute to the quality of life in the communities it serves. For more information, visit http://www.essential.co.
Sponsors of West Chester University’s 150th Anniversary
Celebrations throughout West Chester University’s 150th Anniversary year are made possible by the generosity of community partners. Presenting Sponsor: Aramark. Platinum Sponsors: Student Services, Inc. and West Pharmaceutical Services, Inc. Diamond Sponsors: Essential Utilities and WCU Alumni Association. Gold Sponsor: BB&T (Now Truist). Bronze Sponsors: IMS Technology Services and Meridian Bank. Purple Sponsors: Barnaby’s West Chester; Clark Associates, Inc.; First Bank; MacElree Harvey; Northwestern Mutual; PSECU; Radius Systems; SEI Investments Company; TD Bank; Univest Financial; and Visual Sound.
2021 President's Award Honorees Recognized
In the words of President Christopher Fiorentino, 150Forward Campaign: The Campaign for West Chester University is not about bricks and mortar – it is about our students, and the resources they need to help them reach their full potential. On Thursday, October 28th, the annual President’s Circle Ceremony brought us together to celebrate a few of those individuals, and a community partner, who are helping make this vision possible. This year’s President’s Award recipients are:
Stephanie and Edward N. Collison, Jr. ’93
As President of Hobbs & Company, Inc. based in Boothwyn, Ed Collison, Jr. ’93 has worked on many large contracts, but he counts the completion of three residence halls on WCU’s campus, and projects in Sykes and Anderson Halls, as his proudest. Hobbs & Company, Inc. has also been essential in the relocation of the campus cell tower in preparation for the Sciences & Engineering Center and The Commons; he is a current WCU Foundation Trustee. Stephanie Collison is Principal Product Management Business Analyst on the Customs Development team with Ultimate Kronos Group (UKG), a leading provider of human capital management solutions in the cloud. Ed and Stephanie are past President’s Community Scholarship Gala co-chairs and created the Collison Family Scholarship last year.
Ann and Carl R. Gersbach ’70
For Ann and Carl R. Gersbach ’70, West Chester University is home. The WCU campus is where they first met and is the hometown they returned to after Carl’s seven years as a linebacker in the National Football League. As a Senior Vice President at CBRE, he provides real estate services and consulting to corporations and public sector clients throughout North America. Ann, a talented artist, has served St. Agnes School in West Chester for many years, as it was the school she attended as a young girl. Carl takes pride in giving back and supporting student-athletes through The W. Glenn Killinger Scholarship, the Football Assistance Fund, and the annual QB Classic Golf Tournament; he has served as a WCU Foundation Trustee and as past President of Killinger Foundation.
Barbara J. Lappano ’67, M’73
To say that Barbara J. Lappano ’67, M’73 is held in high esteem at West Chester University is quite an understatement. A physical education major and WCU cheerleader, she cheered for the Golden Rams football team at their first appearance in the Tangerine Bowl. As a member of the faculty from 1970-2004, she taught dance education, technique, and theory courses, coached WCU cheerleading, and also implemented a dance minor for the University in the Theatre Department. In the community, Barbara has choreographed musical theater productions for The Savoy Company, The Montgomery School, The Hill School, and Downingtown Area School District; she teaches ballet, jazz, and musical theater – and consults – through her own business, Dance by Design. In 2007, she established the Barbara J. Lappano Dance Scholarship. A former member of the Alumni Association Board of Directors, she received the President’s Medallion for Service in 2019.
Dr. and Mrs. Charles S. Swope Memorial Scholarship Foundation
Since 1960, the Dr. and Mrs. Charles S. Swope Memorial Scholarship Foundation has operated as a private foundation dedicated to supporting high achieving WCU students. Named after Dr. Charles S. Swope, President of West Chester State Teachers College from 1935-1959. In 2021, the funds were gifted to West Chester University to create an endowed scholarship, The Swope Memorial Scholarship. Dr. Swope’s grandchildren – Dr. Dawn Swope Apgar and Charles E. Swope, Jr. (Chuck) have worked tirelessly to carry on the intention and tradition of their family’s foundation. Dawn is Assistant Professor and Director for the Department of Sociology, Anthropology, Social Work and Criminal Justice at Seton Hall University, and Chuck is Broker of Record and Chairman of Swope Lees Commercial Real Estate, LLC in West Chester.
The President’s Circle is comprised of dedicated alumni, parents, friends, faculty, staff, and community partners who assist in advancing student success through their philanthropic leadership. Bound by their commitment to West Chester University, members drive student success now – and provide a strong foundation for the University’s future.
Visit https://www.wcufoundation.org/presidents-circle/ for more information.
Pictured (L-R): Dr. Susan Fiorentino; President Christopher Fiorentino; Edward N. Collison, Jr. ’93; Stephanie Collison; Barbara J. Lappano ’67, M’73; Dr. Dawn Swope Apgar; Charles Swope, Jr.; Ann Gersbach; and Carl R. Gersbach ’70.