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Donations to PSU bounce back

| Monday, July 8, 2013, 9:33 p.m.

STATE COLLEGE — Penn State said on Monday its fundraising efforts rebounded last year after a drop-off in donations followed the arrest of former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky on child molestation charges.

Total alumni giving reached nearly $88 million in the year that ended in June, up from about $71 million a year earlier but still down from $131 million in 2010-11. That year, a major donation for the school's ice hockey program caused a spike in total donations.

The total number of donors rose to an all-time high of about 193,000, and the school was 92 percent of the way toward meeting a $2 billion goal for a campaign that began in 2007. “For the Future: The Campaign for Penn State Students” has raised $400 million for facilities and $688 million toward the endowment, in addition to hundreds of millions of additional funds.

Rod Kirsch, vice president for development and alumni relations, said giving to the university remained solid despite the Sandusky scandal, a transition to a new president, a rough national economy and uncertainty about federal tax laws.

“The resiliency and commitment of the Penn State family is pretty remarkable,” Kirsch said. “A lot of universities would love to have a base of 193,000 donors.”

Total receipts, a measure of how much the money the university ends up collecting, amounted to about $238 million last year, an increase of $29 million from a year earlier.

The arrest of Sandusky and two university administrators in November 2011 was followed last summer by Sandusky's conviction and the release of a damning report, commissioned by Penn State, about how the school handled complaints about the former coach's encounters with children.

The school's trustees are meeting at Penn State Fayette on Friday, which will mark a year since the release of the Freeh report, as it has become known.

Some alumni have objected to how the school handled the Freeh report, which was critical of the actions by former head coach Joe Paterno, who died of lung cancer in January 2012.

Others have criticized the university's consent agreement with the NCAA, made a year ago, that avoided a complete ban on football but kept the football team out of post-season play for four years, and required a $60 million fine, among other things.

Sandusky is serving a lengthy prison sentence and pursuing appeals. Former administrators Tim Curley and Gary Schultz, and former school president Graham Spanier, await trial for an alleged cover-up of Sandusky complaints, charges they all deny.

Kirsch said fundraising has been resilient despite the two years of negative publicity and turmoil.

“There has been a lot of noise on a variety of items,” Kirsch said. “But at the end of the day I think you ultimately go back to resiliency.”

“The proof is in the numbers, and the numbers have remained very strong here,” he said.

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