Pennsylvania State University's Abington branch has received a $17.3 million gift from licorice magnate Steve Taub — the largest gift in the campus' history, the school said Wednesday.
Taub, a Penn State Abington and University Park alumnus who graduated in 1973, designated the gift for the creation of the Taub Endowments. While 40 percent of the money will go toward financial-aid scholarships, another 40 percent will fund study-abroad and other global programs. The rest will be used to expand classroom spaces and technology.
The gift is "unique among all the campuses," said Eric J. Barron, Penn State's president, because it will create more international opportunities for students who aren't from affluent families.
"If you are financially need based, are you going to be studying abroad? It's unlikely," he said. "We know how transformative these experiences are. … This is a gift that's totally focused on student success."
This gift is the second-largest to one of the 24 Penn State University Commonwealth Campuses, and the largest ever to a Philadelphia-area branch, according to a university spokesperson.
In the past Taub has donated more than $4.5 million in gifts and scholarships to intercultural leadership programs at Penn State Abington.
Taub was CEO of Mafco Worldwide Corp, of Camden, the world's largest natural-licorice products manufacturer. For 38 years, he managed international operations of the company that produced flavors and ingredients for food, confectionery, pharmaceutical, among other products, according to the Penn State release.
The portion of the gift dedicated to updating classroom spaces and technology is intended to create "seminar-style and technology-enhanced learning," said Damian Fernandez, the chancellor of Penn State Abington, which last year opened a $50 million residence hall.
Fernandez said that Taub wanted to structure the gift in this way because his degree allowed him, a first-generation student, to visit more than 90 countries during his career.
Penn State Abington has nearly 4,000 students enrolled, half of whom are students of color, Fernandez said. Nearly 15 percent of students are international, he added.
Fernandez said he has been discussing this gift with Taub for more than two years, which Fernandez believes will "open Abington to the world."
"Understanding diversity among people and societies nationally and globally based upon these learned skills and acquired knowledge are essential for long-term harmony and prosperity for the country and the world," Taub said in the release.
Students can qualify for a Taub Endowment scholarship when filing their financial-aid paperwork.
"Generation after generation of students will get to benefit from this gift," Barron said.