Penn State Hazleton donors endow Open Doors scholarships

Joseph and Lillian Clifford have made a $30,000 contribution to Penn State University to establish the Clifford Family Open Doors Scholarship.

The donation is part of the University-wide campaign “A Greater Penn State for 21st Century Excellence” and will leverage a 2:1 University match, increasing the fund to $90,000.

The Open Doors programs were initiated to help students overcome the obstacles to earning a Penn State degree. In an effort to expand access and affordability, Penn State has created a number of programs such as the Pathway to Success Summer Start (PaSSS) program to help students overcome the obstacles that can hinder their path to graduation.

Open Doors scholarships benefit students enrolled at Penn State Hazleton who are participating in PaSSS. The summer PaSSS program at Penn State Hazleton provides tools and resources to first-year students to increase their likelihood of graduating on time, which could save thousands of dollars in tuition and fees that would accrue from an additional semester or year. In addition to completing their coursework, students in the PaSSS program are paired with mentors and guaranteed a job opportunity.

“We are incredibly grateful to our donors who invest in the education of our students. It shows the students that we as a campus, as well as the donors who make these programs possible, believe that these students are worthy of our investment,” said Penn State Hazleton Director of Development Eileen Kuperavage.

Joseph Clifford said, “As a family we deeply appreciate Penn State's long history and tradition for providing academic opportunities for students from all economic and social backgrounds. We have personally experienced the life-changing opportunities made possible with a Penn State education, which is why we find it so gratifying to establish an Open Door scholarship. It is our hope that this scholarship will provide deserving students with the opportunity to achieve their dreams and to contribute to bettering our community.” 

Joseph Clifford serves on the Penn State Hazleton Council, the campus advisory board. He is the chair of Penn State Hazleton’s Launch Box innovation project and a board member of the Greater Hazleton Chapter of the Penn State Alumni Association. Both Joseph and Lillian are life members of the Penn State Alumni Association.

The Open Doors Scholarship Program offers a 2:1 match from University funds for private gifts to endow scholarships for undergraduates with financial need who are enrolled in the University’s Open Doors programs, designed to help students overcome financial hurdles to remain on track toward graduation. 

“A Greater Penn State for 21st Century Excellence” is a fast-paced campaign that underscores Penn State’s mission for a new era of rapid change and global connections. The campaign focuses on three key imperatives of a public university: garnering private support to keep the doors to higher education open to hard-working students regardless of financial well-being; creating transformative experiences that go beyond the classroom; and impacting the world by fueling discovery, innovation and entrepreneurship.