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Honorary Smeal Board of Visitors member to enhance diversity and inclusion programs for students, faculty, and staff through estate commitment

September 7, 2021

By Anne Louise Cropp

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — When Penn State Smeal College of Business alumnus William “Bill” Donan thinks about his hopes for the future, he envisions a student body and faculty at Penn State that is more reflective of society as a whole. That dream inspired his recent estate commitment to the University.

William Donan
William Donan

When realized, 35 percent of his estate commitment will endow the William A. Donan Dean’s Excellence Fund in the Smeal College of Business. The remaining 65 percent will endow the William A. Donan Excellence in Diversity Fund in the Smeal College of Business.

“As a Black student at the University Park campus in the 1960s, there were few students or faculty members who looked like me. While there are more people of color on campus today, I think it’s vital that we do even more to encourage diversity at Penn State. This has shaped my philanthropy to the University over the years,” Donan said.

Donan’s philanthropic support has been ongoing for decades.

“Bill has been a powerful advocate for inclusivity at Penn State for more than 50 years,” said Dean Charles H. Whiteman. “These gifts will have a profound impact on our students and faculty, and I am grateful for his ongoing support and his confidence in our work to create a more equitable and just future for everyone.”

The William A. Donan Dean’s Excellence Fund will provide financial resources for the dean to meet the most urgent needs of the college. Expenditures may include curriculum development and enhancement, professional development, travel expenses, faculty support, research expenses, and scholarship support for graduate and undergraduate students.

The William A. Donan Excellence in Diversity Fund will be used to offer scholarships to students in need, support conference travel or experiential learning opportunities or otherwise bolster the mission of the college, particularly as it relates to initiatives around diversity, equity and inclusion.

“Mr. Donan has been among our most loyal and generous alumni. In addition to his financial support, he has mentored me, our students, and others within the Smeal community. I am grateful for everything he has done to support our work,” said Jamie Campbell, the college’s assistant dean of diversity enhancement programs.

“This commitment will help to shore up our work and allow us to reach for new goals that help us create a better Smeal for the entire Penn State community.”

Donan graduated from Penn State in 1968 with a degree in management.

As a student at Bartram High School in Philadelphia, Donan said he dreamed of becoming a pilot. After graduating from Penn State, he joined the Army and spent five years as an aviator stationed in the Middle East.

When he left active duty in 1973, Donan joined American Hospital Supply. He spent the next 30 years with the company and successor organizations in a number of roles with increasing responsibility. He retired as corporate vice president and president, southeast region for Allegiance Healthcare, in 2001.

Donan is a past member of both the Smeal College Alumni Society Board and the Smeal Board of Visitors. He is a member of Smeal’s Hammond Society, which honors former Alumni Society Board members for their involvement with the college, and he has been named an honorary member of the Board of Visitors.

He received the Penn State Alumni Fellow Award in 1994 and the Smeal Alumni Diversity Award in 2002. He was honored as a Distinguished Alumnus — the University’s highest honor — in 2006.

"I was not an exceptional student, but I found a way to excel in my chosen career path, and I made it a point to help other people along the way,” he said. 

Donan created the William Donan Undergraduate Scholarship in 1997, the William Donan Minority MBA Fellowship in 2000 and the William A. Donan Professorship in Business Administration in 2002. Each fund is intended to support individuals whose gender, race, ethnic, cultural and/or national background contributes to the diversity of the University community.

“While I am proud of my professional accomplishments,” Donan said, “I am most proud to help students and faculty at the University that I love find their place in the world.”

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