Penn State Altoona receives unrestricted gift from Michael and Gail Irwin

Monday, November 22, 2010 - 2548 hits

ALTOONA — Penn State Altoona has recognized a generous unrestricted gift commitment from Altoona residents Michael J. and Gail H. Irwin with the naming of the Michael and Gail Irwin Family Trading Room, a facility that will connect educational experiences with business practices.

"This exciting gift is in keeping with the spirit of philanthropy and leadership that has long defined Mike and Gail's relationship with our college," said Chancellor Lori J. Bechtel-Wherry. "In perpetuity, the Trading Room will symbolize their passionate support for education at all levels, willingness to make a personal investment in initiatives that contribute to academic excellence at our college and endeavors that enhance the economic vitality of our region."

To be located in the newly-named Sheetz Center for Entrepreneurial Excellence that will be home to the college's entrepreneurial studies program, the Michael and Gail Irwin Family Trading Room will replicate a real-world trading experience and function as a classroom and laboratory. As in other cutting-edge trading rooms across higher education, tickers, stock boards, and televisions will surround users with critical information from the world's financial markets. Each work station will include the software needed for simulated trading and all other finance-related challenges.

Faculty will also utilize the Trading Room to conduct research in the operation, governance, and performance of global financial markets, while focusing on all the elements inherent in today's global economies. The dynamic opportunities available in this kind of facility help to prepare students for direct placement in the financial world through the development of specialized knowledge and thorough engagement in investment projects.

"A Trading Room is the place where a student's undeveloped vision of a career in the financial sector begins to take definitive form; where passion translates to function; where enthusiasm and excitement become achievement and accomplishment," said Dr. Bechtel-Wherry. "The Irwin Family Trading Room will endure as a symbol of Mike and Gail's belief in the unlimited potential of our students and the inherent value of Entrepreneurial Studies. We view it as yet another resource that will place our graduates on career paths with every possible advantage."

Over the years, the philanthropic support of the Irwins has enhanced the academic experiences of students and helped Penn State Altoona address diverse areas of need. Their gifts have supported the William J. Rossman Renaissance Scholarship, Community Arts Center and Advanced Technology Center building funds, and the Chancellor's Excellence Fund.

Mike Irwin is a 1967 Penn State graduate who earned three letters as a Nittany Lion football player and served as Joe Paterno's first captain. The president of Irwin Financial, Inc., he has been providing financial advice for over twenty-seven years. Prior to servicing clients' needs in the investment business, Mike was the executive vice president of the Hite Company and a special agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Gail Irwin is a 1968 graduate of Lycoming College in Williamsport, Pennsylvania. She was an elementary school teacher in Louisville, Kentucky, and St. Louis, Missouri, prior to starting a family. She later became a substitute teacher for the Altoona Area School District and worked part-time at Irwin Financial. Gail has served on numerous community boards, including the Central Pennsylvania Community Foundation, Big Brothers/Big Sisters, Blair County Chapter of the American Cancer Society, Friends of Home Nursing and Providence Presbyterian Church.

As volunteer leaders for Penn State Altoona, Mike has served on the Advisory Board since 1988, and Gail has accepted a variety of vital roles, including membership on the college's sixtieth anniversary committee. The Irwins have three children.

"There is no secret formula of our family's philosophy," the Irwins said. "Giving only needs a beginning. You simply return to the community that has blessed you so much."

Media contact:
Marissa Carney, Media Relations Coordinator, University Relations 814-949-5105

Web Contact:
Jonathan O'Harrow, Webmaster, University Relations 814-949-5105

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