As an undergraduate at Allegheny College in Meadville, Pennsylvania, Gary Mullen focused on mathematics, a subject he had fallen in love with in high school.
Although he came from a family of modest means, scholarships meant that he didn't have to worry about paying for college. The financial and academic freedom scholarships provided meant so much to Gary that he pledged to one day pay it forward.
"I said to myself, 'Gary, if you are ever in a position to support students, you should help others as you were helped.'"
Now a professor in Penn State's Department of Mathematics, where he completed his master's degree and Ph.D., Gary is honored to be in a position to fulfill his long-standing pledge. He and his wife, Bev, have made a range of gifts to support both students and faculty in the department.
Gift Honors Parents
In 2002, Gary endowed the Boyd A. and Bernice K. Mullen Endowed Memorial Scholarship, named in honor of his parents, with a gift of cash. While Gary's parents never attended college, they always encouraged Gary and his brother to pursue higher education and helped to pay part of their tuition. The scholarship recognizes outstanding mathematics students.
Through the years, Gary and Bev have enjoyed meeting the recipients of the scholarship at the department's annual scholarship banquet.
"It makes you feel good when you see how excited students are to receive our scholarship, knowing that their fellow Penn Staters are invested in their success," Gary says.
Gift Gives Back
The Mullens enjoyed the experience so much that they planned a second scholarship through a gift of real estate. They gifted a piece of land they owned in State College to create a charitable remainder unitrust, which provides them with annual payments for life.
After their lifetimes, the funds from the trust will create the Gary L. and Beverly B. Mullen Endowed Scholarship for students in the mathematics department with financial need.
"It's meaningful to know that, as endowments, our scholarships will continue to support Penn State students in perpetuity," Bev says.
Support for Faculty
In addition to scholarships, Gary and Bev believe in supporting faculty. They have committed a portion of their estate to one day create the Gary L. and Beverly B. Mullen Career Development Professorship in Mathematics to support early-career faculty.
"We hope this gift will enable future department leaders to keep the best and brightest faculty members right here at good old Penn State," Gary says, "and enable these rising stars to pursue ideas that the regular budget just doesn't allow you to do."