Philanthropist of the Year

This award recognizes individuals, couples, or families that have demonstrated exceptional generosity in the promotion and support of The Pennsylvania State University. Through their philanthropy, the recipients have helped to shape Penn State’s future and enabled us to better serve students and citizens.

2014 Philanthropist of the Year - Donald W. Hamer

Photo of Don Hamer

From improved cancer treatments to more thoughtful community design, Don Hamer’s philanthropic investments are yielding extraordinary returns for all of us. The first in his family even to attend high school, Don earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Illinois and an M.B.A. from the University of Chicago and served two stints in the U.S. Navy before he arrived in State College in 1963 to work for a ceramic capacitors company. To better communicate with his customers, he began taking electrical engineering classes at Penn State, and he completed a bachelor’s degree in 1968. Soon after, he launched State of the Art Inc., now a leading supplier of film-resistive components to the biomedical, communications, aerospace, and defense industries. Don credits much of this success to his partnerships with University faculty members and to the many interns and employees he’s recruited from Penn State’s graduates. In return, he’s helped the Department of Materials Science and Engineering in the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences to become one of the top-ranked programs in the country, with strengths ranging from healthcare technologies to energy storage, and with his wife, Marie Bednar, he recently created the department’s first endowed professorship. Don and Marie are also leading supporters of the University Libraries, where Marie served for many years as a librarian. Don’s philanthropy to Penn State reflects his wide range of interests and commitments; among his many gifts, he has created the Donald W. Hamer Endowment for Art Acquisitions and Exhibitions at the Palmer Museum of Art and the Hamer Center for Community Design in the Stuckeman School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture. As a Distinguished Alumnus and a volunteer leader for Centre County and Penn State, Don continues to change both the University and the community for the better.

Philanthropists of the Year, 2002 – 2013

  • 2013 - Mr. Ted McCourtney and Mrs. Tracy McCourtney
  • 2012 - Mrs. Edna Peterson Bennett Pierce
  • 2011 - Mr. Terrence M. Pegula and Mrs. Kim Pegula
  • 2010 - Mr. Stephen G. Sheetz and Mrs. Nancy L. Sheetz
  • 2009 - Mr. Edward H. Arnold and Mrs. Jeanne Donlevy Arnold
  • 2007 - Mr. William A. Schreyer, Mrs. Joan Legg Schreyer, and Ms. DrueAnne B. Schreyer
  • 2006 - Mr. J. David Rogers and Mrs. Patricia Maloney Rogers
  • 2005 - Mr. William L. Weiss and Mrs. Josephine Berry Weiss
  • 2004 - Mr. William E. Leonhard and Mrs. Wyllis Leonhard
  • 2003 - Mr. Harold J. Marcus, Ph.D., and Mrs. Inge Marcus
  • 2002 - Mr. J. Lloyd Huck and Mrs. Dorothy Foehr Huck