UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Penn State has named Gail and Dennis Jackman, alumni and volunteer leaders, as the 2020 Fundraising Volunteers of the Year. The award, which recognizes an individual, couple or group who has demonstrated exceptional commitment and leadership in building philanthropic support for the University, will be presented to the Jackmans at a ceremony held in spring 2021.
“Gail and Dennis have given so much of their time and talent to Penn State,” said Penn State President Eric J. Barron. “Not only have they provided meaningful leadership and shaped our vision for the ‘Greater Penn State’ campaign, but through their example, they’ve encouraged so many others to follow in their footsteps and give back to their alma mater.”
The Jackmans’ shared commitment to Penn State began on the University Park campus, where the couple met as undergraduates. After completing a bachelor’s degree in sociology (1976) and a graduate degree in business at Cornell, Dennis pursued professional opportunities that included a stint as staff in the U.S. Senate and progressive responsibilities in external affairs. He retired as global senior vice president for policy and external affairs at CSL Behring, an international biotherapies company. Gail earned her bachelor’s degree in individual and family studies and consumer studies in 1977, followed by a master’s in consumer economics at Cornell, and built a successful career, ultimately founding and running Reach Research, a marketing and consumer research firm. But as their career paths took them up and down the East Coast, the Jackmans remained loyal to their alma mater.
“Ever since we graduated, we’ve maintained a connection to the University,” explained Gail. “We have many family members and friends who attended Penn State, and we’ve always celebrated our Penn State experience, the continued excellence of the University, and its impact on students and society. Over time, we knew we wanted to have increased involvement, and Penn State staff were very helpful in identifying opportunities that were personally meaningful for us.”
The Jackmans began their volunteer service by joining the Rock Ethics Institute’s External Advisory Board in 2008. In collaboration with fellow board members and staff, Gail and Dennis helped further the institute’s mission to advance ethical leadership by enhancing the institute’s visibility and outreach through strategic focus and communications approaches. In 2012, the Jackmans expanded their volunteer efforts by joining the College of the Liberal Art’s Development Council, and they participated in the college’s campaign planning committee in preparation for the launch of the “Greater Penn State” fundraising campaign.
Gail and Dennis are also members of the selection committee for Penn State’s new Perreault Fellows Program, a competitive undergraduate global leadership and internship program funded by the generosity of CSL Limited CEO Paul Perreault and his wife, Beverly. Dennis was supportive of CSL’s growing involvement at Penn State, which culminated in the company’s $4.92 million gift to establish the CSL Behring Fermentation Facility at Penn State and encourage the hands-on training needed to enter the biotechnology market. In addition, Dennis served as an inaugural member of the McCourtney Institute for Democracy Board of Visitors, committed to the study and advancement of democracy. He received the Liberal Arts Outstanding Alumnus Award in 2012 and was named an Alumni Fellow by the Penn State Alumni Association in 2018.
“Gail and Dennis have brought energy and forward-thinking to their volunteer roles,” said Clarence Lang, Susan Welch Dean of the College of the Liberal Arts. “Through their service and philanthropy, the Jackmans have touched every part of our mission, from the student experience to the groundbreaking scholarly research. They have truly shaped the future of our college and our University.”
In addition to their service to the College of the Liberal Arts, the Jackmans have committed their personal philanthropy to further the mission of the University, enhancing opportunities for students and strengthening programs. Within the college, the couple has established the Dennis and Gail Jackman Trustee Scholarship in Honor of Frank Jackman and Aubryn Atchley to help undergraduate students with emergency financial needs; the Dennis J. Jackman and Gail Atchley Jackman Graduate Endowment in Honor of Dean Susan Welch to support graduate student opportunities; the Jackman-McCourtney Endowed Career Development Professorship to provide resources to faculty in the college’s new School of Public Policy; and the Dennis and Gail Atchley Jackman Dean’s Fund to encourage innovative learning and research projects by faculty and students. They also have continued to provide support to the Rock Ethics Institute and input to the School of Public Policy.
“We are very grateful to be recognized as Penn State’s Fundraising Volunteers of the Year,” said Dennis. “It is a great honor to be named, but we also accept this on behalf of the many outstanding volunteers at Penn State. The existence of this award is recognition of all the dedicated volunteer leaders across the University.”
The Jackmans’ volunteer service and philanthropic support 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 hard-working 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 http://greaterpennstate.psu.edu.