Impact Stories

Paying It Forward

Penn State campus

Impact Stories

Paying It Forward

Gary and Bev Mullen

Gary and Bev Mullen (top photo) made a gift to Penn State in honor of his parents, Boyd and Bernice Mullen (bottom photo.)

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.

Gary and Bev Mullen

"I thank you for your generosity, and I know that your support will make a huge difference in the education of Penn State mathematics students. I am so fortunate to have so many opportunities attending such a wonderful school, and having such a generous scholarship will allow me to pursue as many of these opportunities as I have room for in my academic schedule, as well as help to fund some of my thesis work."
—Hannah Pohlmann Recipient of the Boyd A. and Bernice K. Mullen Endowed Memorial Scholarship in the Department of Mathematics.

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."

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