Mark Gruskin spent two years studying computer science at the Penn State Greater Allegheny (then McKeesport) campus in the 1970s. Because there were no four-year degree options at the time, Gruskin transferred to University Park to complete the remaining two years of his degree.
He remembers fondly the years spent in McKeesport. He enjoyed his stay in the residence hall and found it to be so beneficial for his transition to college life.
Gruskin has remained a dedicated supporter of the campus and member of the Penn State Greater Allegheny Advisory Board. His fond memories and the fact that he grew up in Western Pennsylvania, are two of the reasons he decided to renew his commitment by making a $50,000 pledge to the Open Doors Scholarship Matching Program, an initiative of A Greater Penn State for 21st Century Excellence.
Through the Open Doors Scholarship Matching Program, available for one year only, the University makes a 2:1 permanent match for endowed scholarships to support students enrolled in pilot programs designed to help students with financial need to thrive at Penn State. Penn State’s match will triple the size of Gruskin’s scholarship endowment, raising it to $150,000.
Gruskin, a 14-year member of the Penn State Greater Allegheny Advisory Board, is a strong advocate for student scholarships. He has consistently donated to the campus’ annual All That’s Jazz Scholarship Benefit, now in its 14th year. In 2001, he also helped to establish the John H. Gruskin Learning Center, in memory of his father, with a $50,000 gift.
Gruskin recognizes the need to help students both academically and financially. “When I was a struggling student, I was lucky to have received help from some caring and concerned faculty. There are a lot of first-generation college students coming here from families that might need some assistance. With the Learning Center they can get academic support. Now, through the Open Doors Scholarship Matching Program, I hope to help students who otherwise might not be able to afford a Penn State degree.”
The University has developed a number of pilot programs to help keep students on track to their degrees. The Open Doors Scholarship Matching Program is designed to create scholarships that support students in these programs. These programs include (among others): Pathway to Success: Summer Start (PaSSS), which helps entering students to make the transition to a Penn State campus by learning skills and earning credits during the summer before their first year, and raise.me, which enables high school students to earn micro-scholarships toward their Penn State education by meeting goals that will lay a strong foundation for their future studies.
Laura King, director of campus development at Greater Allegheny said, “The Open Doors Scholarship Matching Program is a great way that Penn State has committed to ease the financial burden for our students, especially those who are among the first in their families to enter college, or who come from low-income households. It wouldn’t be possible without help from donors like Dr. Gruskin. His generosity over the years has been extraordinary, and with this gift, he will continue to help students for many years to come.”
Gifts from Penn State’s alumni and friends have been essential to the success of the University’s historic land-grant mission to serve the public good. To fulfill that mission for a new era of rapid change and global connections, the University has begun "A Greater Penn State for 21st Century Excellence," a fast-paced campaign focused on the three key imperatives of a public university. Private support will keep the door to higher education open and enable students to graduate on time and on track to success; create transformative experiences on Penn State campuses and around the globe that tap the full potential of Penn Staters to make a difference; and impact the world through discovery, innovation and entrepreneurship. To learn more, visit www.greaterpennstate.psu.edu