McPherons create new study abroad scholarship


UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Marilyn McPheron still wells up when she talks about her students.

“They would come into my office and say ‘you changed my life,’” said McPheron, former study abroad coordinator in the Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences, Office of International Programs. “It still overwhelms me to think something I did had that kind of impact.”

McPheron changed countless lives by helping connect students with international experiences during her tenure as study abroad coordinator. With a recent gift to support students who embrace both agriculture and global learning, she plans to change many more.

McPheron is the wife of Bruce McPheron, former dean of Ohio State University’s College of Agricultural Sciences and now provost and executive vice president.

New scholarship

To make international experiences possible for more students, McPheron and her husband committed $50,000 to create the Marilyn McPheron Scholarship for International Experiences for Undergraduates in the College of Agricultural Sciences.

The McPherons’ commitment was eligible for a 1:1 university match through the First-Time Endowed Scholarship Donor Matching Program, an initiative of the university’s $1.6 billion fundraising campaign, A Greater Penn State for 21st Century Excellence.

“We all know that college isn’t just about the coursework. It’s about life experiences too,” said McPheron. “Once students navigate their way in another country, they realize they can do anything. No matter what students go on to do the rest of their lives, this experience is transformative and changes them forever. I’m so honored to play a role in making it possible.”

She was shocked to learn that less than one percent of students in the college were engaging in international experiences at the time.

“Almost three-fourths of our undergraduates held jobs to cover tuition and wouldn’t be able to afford to travel abroad,” McPheron said. “And few programs in the college were set up to accommodate a semester away, meaning students would need to attend Penn State for an extra semester in order to graduate.”

To learn more about the scholarship, visit


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