Thursday, April 4

560,658 Alumni are far less when it comes to BOT voting and making donations

500,000 and 600,000 are numbers that are oft repeated when speaking of PSU alumni, however, when it comes to voting for the BOT and making donations to PSU the numbers are far, far less.

Ray Blehar

With the vote for new alumni trustees upon us, I thought it would be interesting to take a look at how many PSU alumni do what matters most:  vote and donate money.


PS4RS provided this graphic on how many alumni voted in the last election, which stated 37,563 (about 6% of alumni).  The total votes were 101,308 or 2.7 votes per ballot.  The fact that only 6% of alumni vote in trustee elections is astonishing, but I am quite certain we will see a dramatic increase this spring.

Jay Paterno wrote in that PSU alumni should be wary of voting irregularities in this years election and recommended observers.  Bob Horst noted that the BOT routinely rigged the mechanical and engineering trustee elections in years past.

It may be prudent for PS4RS to hold their own "mock" election to ensure that their membership vote is not undercounted.  

My goodness, PSU has become a third world Banana Republic, where we have to be concerned about rigged elections.  Of course, we will all be labeled as dissidents in the next issue of The, have some North Korea with those bananas.


The 2011-2012 PSU President's Report on Philanthropy and Endowments (page 29) revealed that only 75,593 alumni donated to PSU (13.5%).  That is an eye opening number.  The inverse shows that 480,065 do not donate to Dear Old State.  I suspect the percentage will be lower in 2012-2013 given what has transpired over the last year.  I anxiously await the next report to find out.

Page 30 reveals that almost one quarter of the annual giving is to PSU Athletics ($51.4M).  However, the Nittany Lion Club Annual Report for 2011 indicated that over $81M was raised, including endowments.  The total number of donors to the NLC was 23,374, which includes students and non-alums.

Another interesting point is that donations to THON are included in the PSU donation total, thus alumni who contribute to THON are among the 75,593.  Given that THON is a special philanthropy that draws in a considerable number of small donors, one can surmise that the number of alumni donors to THON is quite large.  What is unknown (more research needed) is just how many alums donate to THON and nothing else.


The bottom line is for an alumni base the size of PSU's, it is surprising how few donate and vote.  In other words, the vast majority of alumni leave PSU and really don't take an active interest in the University.  PS4RS boasts a membership of around 15,000 -- a very powerful voting/donation block if it can be harnessed in the BOT election and in directing (or dare I say, withholding) donations.


  1. I am a lifetime member of the alumni association and therefore have voted in every election since I graduated in 1980. I have also been a donating member since that time as well. I am a member of the NLC and also contribute to THON, but 2011 was the first year I ceased giving any money directly to the university through my alumni group campaign. Mostly I use the excuse that I have two kids there now, but it's more because of the BOT and their abuse of responsibilities.

  2. Until the BOT debacle in 2011, my wife and I were members of the "Golden Lion Society" society by virtue of our "Life Time" membership in the Alumni Association and making a donation to Penn State every year since our graduation about 25 years ago. This was separate from our yearly Nittany Lion Club contributions, consistent pledges to THON, and occasional donations groups like the Blue Band. In 2012, I was greatly conflicted about donating to the university wondering how to support the PSU and not “enable” the BOT. I was greatly relieved when we received a request from Penn State with Sue Paterno's signature regarding the library. Other than THON, we decided to shift our contributions solely to the Library. In the latest ranking, Pattee is among the best in the country. The h*ll with the NCAA and the rest of ill-informed haters, maybe we can honor Paterno and Penn State making them #1 again in an area that commemorates the "Grand Experiment"

    1. Thank you for sharing, Douglas. I was conflicted about giving to PSU this year, but relented and made my contribution to the NLC, but stopped there. I usually donate to Smeal College of Business and the Blue Band -- but not this year.

      Also, I dropped two season tickets that I normally would have purchased and sent a message that I was cancelling those tickets because of the decisions by the BOT.

      The NLC said they would forward my message regarding cancellation to AD Dave (Judas) Joyner.

  3. I donated to THON, as I have since graduating in '98, but the contribution I normally make to the University I redirected to Ziegler's movie.

  4. I did the same thing in 2012 and donated to Ziegler's movie and SMSS website.

  5. No Joe, No Dough. My wife and I pulled were leaving our estate to PSU, now it is dedicated to other entities