Alumni engagement and support are key priorities of The Power of Penn Campaign. Through membership in the Harrison Society, alumni and friends aim to secure the future of the University in ways just as meaningful as the Society’s namesake did 125 years ago.
Charles Custis Harrison, 12th Provost of the University of Pennsylvania starting in 1894, transformed the campus. A staggering 49 buildings were built during his tenure, many of which are icons of Penn’s landscape today, including Houston Hall, the Quad, and the Penn Museum.
Appropriately, 100 years after his appointment as provost, the University created the Charles Custis Harrison Society—a designation to honor alumni and friends who wish to have the same transformative power as Harrison by supporting Penn with a planned gift, whether through a bequest, living trust, retirement plan, or life insurance; or in the form of a charitable gift annuity or charitable trust.
Today, the Harrison Society counts over 4,000 members in its ranks, who range in age from 23 to 105 and support everything from the Museum to the ICA, Athletics to Law, and beyond. In 2019, the University celebrates the Society’s 25th anniversary and its tremendous growth.
Your foresight, your generosity, your incredible spirit of loyalty and pride in Penn will bring a future that is even more vibrant and accomplished than our past and our present”President Amy Gutmann
Nearly 200 members and guests attended a celebratory luncheon where President Amy Gutmann praised attendees for creating lasting legacies at Penn. She discussed the impact of Society gifts—just as impactful as the capital construction in Harrison’s time—including the Rockwell Gym; Pennock Walk at the Morris Arboretum; and scholarships that increase access to a Penn education for students from all backgrounds. “Your foresight, your generosity, your incredible spirit of loyalty and pride in Penn will bring a future that is even more vibrant and accomplished than our past and our present,” Gutmann said to the group.
Patricia Ann Quinn, CGS’02 was one such alumna whose experience as a scholarship recipient informed her decision to become a Harrison Society member. A recipient of the Bread Upon the Waters Scholarship—offered at Penn for women over 30 who can only attend part-time due to work or other constraints—she graduated from the College of General Studies (now Penn LPS) in 2002 and knew immediately that she wanted to give back. “There’s a shared sense of justice among the women who got this scholarship. Life isn’t all about me. You give back. I’m glad to be in a place because of that scholarship where whatever abilities I got from the education, I can give back in ways that mean a lot to me.”
For others who see Penn as a member of their family, adding the University to their estate plans was a logical way to demonstrate that loyalty. Allan, C’81, PAR’11, PAR’14, and Dale, MT’81, PAR’11, PAR’14, Bell met their freshman year of college. They describe themselves as a “Penn family, through and through”—both of their children are married or engaged to other Penn graduates and they count among their friends alumni from across many class years. Allan is the Power of Penn Alumni Engagement Committee chair and 2018 Alumni Award of Merit winner, and Dale received the Alumni Award of Merit in 2012. They joined the Harrison Society in its inaugural year, and it’s one of their many ways of showing their love for Penn.
Sam Colangelo, W’18, wasn’t even born when the Harrison Society was formed in 1995. The youngest member of the Society, Sam has spent much of his life around Penn. His older sister came here, and it was the first college campus he ever visited. In his senior year, he became one of three co-chairs for Seniors for the Penn Fund, an on-campus group dedicated to engaging students through philanthropy. As he approached graduation, he wanted ways to stay connected to Penn as he moved on in his career. Before he even graduated from college, he had included Penn in his estate plans.
“Joining the Harrison Society gave me a way to stay connected to Penn in ways that a yearly donation and coming back for homecoming just couldn’t do.”