Penn State Altoona

Penn State Altoona alumnus supports political science program

Tuesday, September 13, 2011 - 1148 hits

ALTOONA — Penn State Altoona has received a $200,000 gift commitment from Penn State alumnus George F. Gardner and his wife, Elizabeth, of Carlisle, Pennsylvania, to support the college's Political Science program. The Gardners' gift will promote ethical leadership, engaged citizenship, and an enhanced awareness and understanding of constitutional government among Altoona students. The commitment will fund curricular innovation, expand the breadth of educational programming and provide financial assistance for students who seek opportunities beyond the traditional classroom experience.

"Focusing our political science students on the great history and accomplishments of our founding fathers and the republic that they created is never more needed than at the present time, when our country is faced with political challenges that become ever more pressing to solve," said George Gardner.

Initiatives to be funded by the Gardners' gift include internships at the local, state, national, and international levels; study abroad; an alternative spring break program entitled "Politics and Government in Washington, D.C."; student and faculty research; appearances by visiting speakers; and a senior award.

"This gift is a testament to George and Elizabeth Gardner's ongoing commitment to partner with Penn State Altoona to build a dynamic Political Science program," said Chancellor Lori J. Bechtel-Wherry. "They are passionate about helping our college provide students with a multifaceted education that is so crucial to ensuring an informed and engaged citizenry. Our entire academic community is grateful to the Gardners for sharing a vision that will advance our Political Science program in innumerable ways throughout the coming years."

The bachelor of arts degree in Political Science has become one of Penn State Altoona's most visible and successful programs, challenging students with a comprehensive mix of liberal arts education and active involvement in internships, service learning, and other hands-on opportunities. "Whether students are considering careers in public life or in one of the countless fields impacted by politics and government policy, the Political Science program offers invaluable core skills and knowledge, fostering a spirited appreciation of ethics, responsibility and integrity relating to governmental and civic issues," said Dr. Bechtel-Wherry. "By helping us to create a challenging classroom environment and integrate real-world experiences, the Gardners have become our partners in providing students with the education necessary to be informed citizens and leaders."

A 1949 Penn State graduate and former Penn State Altoona student, George Gardner achieved initial professional success as founder and developer of cable television systems in Pennsylvania, Maryland, and West Virginia. He built his first system in Lewistown, Pennsylvania, in 1951. Two years later, he formed the first distribution company capable of selling all the materials required to build and operate a cable television system, establishing himself as a pioneer in the evolution of cable television. That company, TVC Communications LLC, is presently located in Annville, Pennsylvania.

Gardner helped to advance the interests of the emerging cable industry by collaborating with other cable operators to form national and state trade associations. He has been honored for his contributions to the cable industry by the Pennsylvania Cable Television Association, the Maryland, Delaware and District of Columbia Cable Television Association, and National Cable Television Association. His service on the board of directors of the Pennsylvania Cable Television Association includes terms as president, treasurer, and secretary. He is certified as a Broadband Engineer by the Society of Cable and Telecommunication Engineers, and he is a member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers.

Elizabeth Gardner, a native of Carlisle, Pennsylvania, graduated from the Carlisle Hospital School of Nursing on November 17, 1955. She retired in 1991, after thirty-six years of service in the nursing profession. During her adult singing career, she performed as a dramatic soprano soloist and became proficient in both clarinet and piano.

The Gardners' gift will help Penn State Altoona to reach the goals of For the Future: The Campaign for Penn State Students. This University-wide effort is directed toward a shared vision of Penn State as the most comprehensive, student-centered research university in America. The University is engaging Penn State's alumni and friends as partners in achieving six key objectives: ensuring student access and opportunity, enhancing honors education, enriching the student experience, building faculty strength and capacity, fostering discovery and creativity, and sustaining the University's tradition of quality. The campaign's top priority is keeping a Penn State degree affordable for students and families. The For the Future campaign is the most ambitious effort of its kind in Penn State's history, with the goal of securing $2 billion by 2014.

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