Abington faculty, staff fund $50 book vouchers for 66 students

Sixty-six Penn State Abington students each will receive $50 vouchers to purchase textbooks thanks to the support of Abington faculty and staff, and the creative thinking of their colleagues.

The initial goal of The 25-In-25 Challenge was for 25 faculty and staff members to donate $25 each within a 25-day period. Abington Chancellor Dr. Karen Wiley Sandler offered to personally match each donation so that 25 deserving students would receive $50 bookstore vouchers for the spring 2013 semester.

But from the time the challenge was announced, the Abington community enthusiastically stepped up, and by its close, 66 people donated, 40 of them participating for the first time in the Abington Faculty and Staff Campaign.

"Abington faculty and staff have a well-deserved reputation for truly caring about students in and out of the classroom," said Ross Brinkert, co-chairman of the Faculty and Staff Campaign. "This extends that commitment even further."

The idea for the Challenge originated with Brinkert, associate professor of corporate communication, who noted that he knows from his own students that the cost of books, on top of paying tuition and living expenses, can be overwhelming.

"We all know the average student today faces a much greater financial burden than his or her counterpart did a decade ago," he said. "The 25-In-25 initiative is a modest yet meaningful way to lift that burden."

Brinkert approached Annie Badasarian, assistant director of development, and Christopher Walters, his faculty and staff campaign co-chairman, with the concept of promoting $25 donations. Walters, in his role as associate director of enrollment management and retention, helps students coordinate the grant, loan, scholarship and work study packages that make paying for college possible. He, too, is said he's well aware of the financial challenges facing students.

The trio brought the idea to Chancellor Sandler who enthusiastically offered to personally match the donations dollar for dollar so that each student would receive a $50 voucher for spring 2013 books.

According to Walters, the method for determining which students receive the awards is still being determined.