READING, Pa. — Penn State University has announced the creation of the Dena and Victor Hammel Trustee Scholarship at Penn State Berks to assist students with financial need. In addition to the Dena and Victor Hammel Trustee Scholarship, the couple has supported Penn State students through gifts to the Renaissance Fund, Penn State Hillel, and the Smeal College of Business. Victor Hammel has also served as a member of the Penn State Berks advisory board.
“We certainly have a soft spot for Penn State,” Victor Hammel said. “We’ve been fortunate in our careers, and for those who may not be as fortunate, we wanted to provide the opportunity to come to the University. My wife attended Penn State on a partial scholarship, so we know how difficult it can be to afford a college degree. Now, we’re able to help students receive the same great Penn State education we did.
Victor Hammel graduated from Penn State in 1967 with a degree in Accounting. He rose through the ranks at J.C. Ehrlich Company to become president, growing it into the largest privately owned pest control company in the country when it was sold in 2006. He currently serves as its chairman in a part-time capacity. Dena Hammel earned her degree in Speech Pathology and Audiology from Penn State in 1968 and served as a dialysis social worker in the Reading, Pa. area until her retirement.
Longtime residents of Berks County, the Hammels are active in community organizations that assist youth with limited financial means in the Reading area. Dena Hammel serves on the board of the GoggleWorks Center for the Arts, an institute that offers art programming for inner-city Reading children and provides a venue for local artists to show their work. Victor Hammel has served on The Reading Hospital and Medical Center board of directors since 1992, and both have been long-time leaders of the Jewish Federation of Reading. Another focus of their philanthropy for at-risk children includes support for a children’s orphanage in Israel, of which they are also board members.
The impact of the Hammels’ latest gift to Penn State Berks will be doubled through the Trustee Matching Scholarship Program. In this groundbreaking philanthropic model, Penn State matches 5 percent of the total pledge or gift at the time a Trustee Scholarship is created, making funds available immediately for student awards. This University match, which is approximately equal to the endowment’s annual spendable income, continues in perpetuity, doubling the support available for students with financial need.