Alumni Couple Create $100,000 Trustee Scholarship at Penn State BerksPenn State alumni Victor and Dena Hammel of Wyomissing, have committed $100,000 to create the Dena and Victor Hammel Trustee Scholarship at Penn State Berks to both assist students with financial need and honor the campus’ retiring chancellor, Dr. Susan Phillips Speece. This scholarship is one of the many ways the couple is creating educational opportunities for children and students who are facing financial challenges in their local community and across the globe, Dr. Speece said.
"Vic and Dena Hammel have long been friends of Penn State Berks,” commented Speece. “Their generous gift—funding scholarships for our students—reflects their passion for youth and for building community. We are most grateful to them."
In addition to the Dena and Victor Hammel Trustee Scholarship, the couple has supported Penn State students through gifts to the Renaissance Fund, Penn State Hillel, and the Smeal College of Business. Victor Hammel has also served as a member of the Penn State Berks advisory board.
“We certainly have a soft spot for Penn State,” Victor Hammel said. “We’ve been fortunate in our careers, and for those who may not be as fortunate, we wanted to provide the opportunity to come to the University. My wife attended Penn State on a partial scholarship, so we know how difficult it can be to afford a college degree. Now, we’re able to help students receive the same great Penn State education we did. During our thirty-year relationship with the Berks campus, we have come to admire the work of Dr. Speece, and we wanted to honor her with a gift before her retirement in June.”
Victor Hammel graduated from Penn State in 1967 with a degree in accounting. He rose through the ranks at J.C. Ehrlich Company to become president, growing it into the largest privately owned pest control management company in the country when it was sold in 2006. He currently serves as its chairman in a part-time capacity. Dena Hammel earned her degree in speech pathology and audiology from Penn State in 1968 and served as a dialysis social worker in the Reading area until her retirement.
Longtime residents of Berks County, the Hammels are active in community organizations that assist youth with limited financial means in the Reading area. Dena Hammel serves on the board of GoggleWorks Center for the Arts, an institute that offers art programming for inner-city Reading children and provides a venue for local artists to show their work.
Victor Hammel has served on The Reading Hospital and Medical Center board of directors since 1992, and both are involved with the Jewish Federation of Reading. Their other philanthropy includes support for a children’s orphanage in Israel, of which they are also board members.
The impact of the Hammels’ latest gift to Penn State Berks will be doubled through the Trustee Matching Scholarship Program. In this groundbreaking philanthropic model, Penn State matches 5 percent of the total pledge or gift at the time a Trustee Scholarship is created, making funds available immediately for student awards. This University match, which is approximately equal to the endowment’s annual spendable income, continues in perpetuity, doubling the support available for students with financial need.
The Hammels’ gift will move Penn State Berks even closer to its goals of For the Future: The Campaign for Penn State Students, which is directed toward a shared vision of Penn State as the most comprehensive, student-centered research university in America. 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.