Penn State Wilkes-Barre exceeds goal for student emergency fund, food bank

Sharon, left, and Ric Struthers.

Ric and Sharon Struthers are among the most generous supporters in the history of Penn State Wilkes-Barre.

Credit: Penn State

LEHMAN, Pa. — The Penn State Wilkes-Barre campus community has successfully secured a matching gift challenge made by long-time supporters Ric and Sharon Struthers for the benefit of the campus’ Student Emergency Fund and Food Bank.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and related restrictions, many students are facing financial challenges as they pursue their education. In response to this extraordinary situation, earlier this year Ric and Sharon Struthers made an initial gift of $10,000 divided equally between the campus’ Student Emergency Fund and Food Bank, and challenged advisory board members, alumni, faculty and staff to contribute an equal amount or more to these two funds. To encourage others to also give, the couple committed to match contributions, up to an additional $10,000, received from other donors. The challenge exceeded its goal, and in fulfillment of their matching commitment, the Struthers have provided the campus with their second gift, bringing their total personal investment to $20,000 for these initiatives.

“Thanks to the generosity of the Penn State Wilkes-Barre faculty, staff, Advisory Board members and alumni who make this campus such a special place, more than $30,000 was raised to provide Penn State Wilkes-Barre students access to crucial assistance as we continue to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic and its drastic economic impact,” Chancellor and Chief Academic Officer Dale Jones said. “The response to this challenge is a shining example of our collective commitment to the well-being of our students. It proves again that we can truly make a difference through united efforts. . I especially thank Ric and Sharon for inspiring us with this challenge and for their continuous support and advocacy of Penn State Wilkes-Barre.”

The campus Student Emergency Fund provides students with tuition and housing assistance as well as assistance with classroom and educational materials and medical expenses. The food bank continues to operate through contactless pickup, and provides students with a selection of nonperishable food along with household and personal hygiene items.

Ric Struthers said, “I am thrilled that the advisory board, alumni, faculty and staff have stepped up and matched our donation. It shows what a terrific group of supporters we have involved with the Wilkes-Barre campus. Our goal is always to support those in need, and this gives the chancellor the opportunity to do that.”

Contributions are still welcome and may be made at

Ric Struthers attended Penn State Wilkes-Barre for two years before finishing his education at University Park in 1977 with a degree in management. He and Sharon have made several generous gifts to Penn State Wilkes-Barre, including a $1 million gift to build and furnish the Struthers Family Career Services Center and establish an endowment to support the center’s operations. Their commitment also endowed the Struthers Family Trustee Scholarship for Penn State Wilkes-Barre students with financial need. In 2018, the Struthers created the Struthers Family Open Doors Scholarship at Penn State Wilkes-Barre with a $500,000 gift. Their philanthropy has shaped other areas across the University, including $3 million in commitments toward a new home for the Smeal College of Business and gifts for the Bank of America Career Services Center, which Ric helped to launch; Intercollegiate Athletics; Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center; and many other funds and scholarships.

The couple have also long been volunteer supporters of the University. Ric serves on the Penn State Wilkes-Barre Advisory Board, the Smeal College of Business Board of Visitors, and the executive committee of the University’s fundraising campaign, “A Greater Penn State for 21st Century Excellence.” He was named a distinguished alumnus, the University’s highest honor for its graduates, in 2002. Sharon serves as the co-chair of the Parent Philanthropy Committee, and she is a member of the foundation board of directors at Clemson University, her alma mater. She was named a 2016 Honorary Alumni Award Recipient by the Penn State Alumni Association.

Gifts from Ric and Sharon Struthers and from other supporters will advance "A Greater Penn State for 21st Century Excellence," a focused campaign that seeks to elevate Penn State’s position as a leading public university in a world defined by rapid change and global connections. With the support of alumni and friends, “A Greater Penn State” seeks to fulfill the three key imperatives of a 21st-century public university: keeping the doors to higher education open to hardworking students regardless of financial well-being; creating transformative experiences that go beyond the classroom; and impacting the world by fueling discovery, innovation and entrepreneurship. To learn more about “A Greater Penn State for 21st Century Excellence,” visit