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ALTOONA, Pa. -- Altoona residents Steve Sheetz, chairman of the board of convenience store retailer Sheetz Inc., and his wife Nancy made a $2.5 million commitment to Penn State Altoona, the largest gift in the 70-year history of the campus.
The gift will offer students new opportunities to excel in entrepreneurial studies. The donors will announce specific designations for the gift at a future date.
"On behalf of our entire Penn State Altoona family, I extend sincere gratitude to Steve and Nancy for their transformational gift," said Chancellor Lori J. Bechtel-Wherry. "Steve and Nancy have been loyal friends of our campus, offering philanthropic support for many years. This latest act of generosity demonstrates their unwavering support of our community and their shared vision for Penn State Altoona’s educational goals."
The couple, who has significant and long-standing personal and professional ties to Altoona and the greater Blair County region, said they have always been interested in finding new ways to strengthen their community, as well as promote educational opportunities for young adults. Steve Sheetz has been involved in the campus’ entrepreneurship program for a number of years. The gift, he noted, also fulfills his strong desire to work with the university in creating a more vibrant and thriving downtown Altoona.
The Sheetzes said they care deeply about students and feel that the creation of an entrepreneurial center at the campus’ downtown location would provide an important educational opportunity that otherwise does not exist in this region. Steve Sheetz, a successful entrepreneur, said he is excited about the possibility of engaging students through a mentoring program. In the past, he has shared his expertise with Penn State students as a guest speaker on the subjects of entrepreneurship and total customer focus.
"We feel it is a great opportunity to show our support for our community, Penn State Altoona, the entrepreneurial program and especially those students who dream of one day operating their own business," he said in a statement.
A 1969 Penn State graduate, Steve maintains a strong relationship with the university. He has served as a Penn State Trustee and the chairperson of several capital campaigns at Penn State Altoona. He has been a member of the campus’ advisory board since 1984. In 1994, he was named a Distinguished Alumnus, the highest recognition Penn State bestows on its graduates. Five years later, he was named a Penn State Alumni Fellow, the most prestigious honor given by the Penn State Alumni Association.
Over the years, Steve and Nancy Sheetz have supported numerous philanthropic initiatives at Penn State Altoona. With Sheetz Inc., they created the Sheetz Family Endowed Scholarship and Sheetz Visiting Lecture Program. Their gifts have helped to fund construction of the Advanced Technology Center and Community Arts Center, and benefited the intercollegiate athletics program, Penn State Altoona Future Fund and William J. Rossman Renaissance Scholarship.
Steve and Nancy Sheetz have two daughters, Megan and Nikki, and seven grandchildren.
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