The Schreyer Honors College was established in 1997 when William A. and Joan L. Schreyer came forward with a landmark $30 million gift to Penn State. The root of this gift can be traced back to 1945 when Bill Schreyer arrived in State College as a freshman to enroll in what was then the Pennsylvania State College. "I had such a great time at Penn State. It was a real growing-up experience for me." Mr. Schreyer wrote in his 2009 memoir, Still Bullish on America.
Upon graduation, Mr. Schreyer joined a new training program established by Merrill Lynch. It was a decision that led to a 45-year career that propelled him from an apprenticeship at the age of 20 to CEO and chairman of the board in 1985.
Leadership & Loyalty
Mr. Schreyer credited much of his professional success to his experiences at Penn State and in return, remained an active leader at his alma mater throughout his life. Described as one of the University’s most prominent alumni and supporters, his honors and appointments at Penn State include:
1979: Distinguished Alumnus Award Recipient
1980-83: Alumni Council Member
1986-98: Board of Trustees Member
1993-96: Board of Trustees President
Mr. Schreyer was also a member of the Smeal College of Business Board of Visitors and served on the External Advisory Board of the Schreyer Honors College.
In 1980, Mr. Schreyer led the University’s first comprehensive fundraising initiative, The Campaign for Penn State, which raised a total of $352 million for the University. He continued his leadership through involvement in subsequent capital campaigns including Grand Destiny, which saw gifts exceed $1.3 billion, and For the Future: The Campaign for Penn State Students, which closes in June 2014.
The financial commitment made by Bill and Joan Schreyer to the honors college that bears their name is staggering. The extraordinary $30 million gift that launched the college in 1997 transformed the University Scholars Program into an honors college that quickly defined honors education throughout the nation’s public universities. The Schreyers’ subsequent gift of $25 million in 2006 was the lead gift for the Enhancing Honors Education objective in For the Future: The Campaign for Penn State Students. Having contributed more than $58 million to Penn State, the Schreyers are one of the largest family donors in the school's history.
Since the college’s founding in 1997, Mr. Schreyer frequently said that his family’s contributions toward the Honors College were the best investments he’d ever made. The dividends on that investment have been evidenced by the contributions being made by current Schreyer Scholars and the thousands of Scholar alumni around the globe.
More than 11,000 Penn State alumni have graduated with the distinction of honors and the title of "Scholar." This number includes those who graduated from the University Scholars Program, which provided the foundation for honors education at Penn State and was the precursor to the Schreyer Honors College.
Bill Schreyer died at the age of 83 in January 2011. Mrs. Schreyer and the Schreyers' daughter, DrueAnne, remain members of the External Advisory Board. Joan Schreyer was named an honorary alumna of the University in 1991.
Read more about current Scholars and recent graduates who are well on their way to having an important and ethical influence in the world: