Class Gifts

Elm Trees
The Elm Tree Endowment was a gift of the Penn State class of 1996 to preserve the historic elms. (Photograph by John Beale)

Class gifts are philanthropic donations given by graduating Penn State classes that have made a significant impact on the university, including some of the most beloved and recognized landmarks.

Beginning with the class of 1861, Penn State seniors have given back to university with a major gift that is funded by seniors pledging all or a portion of their general deposit. The deposit is held by the university during a student’s time at Penn State and is used to over unforeseen fees and expenses.

The mission of the annual Class Gift Campaign is to promote a philanthropic spirit among graduating students by providing the class an opportunity to leave a legacy to the university. Graduating seniors nominate projects to be funded and then vote on the gift they want to provide. Many of the gifts have helped to beautify the campus, while others have supported important university initiatives.

The initial class gift was a portrait of Penn State’s first president, Evan Pugh. Later class gifts have included the Old Main bell tower clock, Allen Street Gates, the Land-Grant Frescoes, Nittany Lion Shrine, Peace Garden, HUB aquariums, Veteran’s Plaza, and the “We Are” sculpture.

Gifts have also included an organ for Schwab Auditorium, the sun dial in front of Old Main, a scoreboard and timer for “New” Beaver Field, the bronze bell at the football stadium, the outdoor study lounge adjacent to Pattee and Paterno Libraries, the Celebration Garden at Rec Hall, and the Marsh Meadow Boardwalk and Overlook at the Arboretum at Penn State. Senior class gifts have also provided funds for scholarships, library books, the student radio station, a health center ambulance, the student food bank, the Elm Tree Endowment, and the Center for Counseling & Psychological Services.


Penn State Class Gifts. (Accessed April 23, 2021).

First Published: May 20, 2021

Last Modified: July 9, 2022