Henderson Foundation commits $1 million for scholarship fund at Penn State Brandywine

Wilbur C. and Betty Lea Henderson

The Wilbur C. and Betty Lea Henderson Foundation has committed $1 million to Penn State Brandywine to endow the Wilbur C. and Betty Lea Henderson Foundation Scholarship — the largest philanthropic gift from a foundation in the campus’ history. The scholarship will support full-time, high-achieving undergraduate students, with a first preference for those who have served or are serving in the U.S. military, have an immediate family member who is serving or has served in the military, or participants in the Army and Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) program at Penn State Brandywine.

“This gift will be transformational in meeting the financial needs of our veteran students and their dependents,” said Marilyn J. Wells, chancellor of Penn State Brandywine. “At Brandywine, the number one barrier for our students completing their degrees is financial. Although the GI Bill typically provides educational assistance to veterans and their dependents, students can exhaust their benefits, and non-tuition expenses can often exceed the annual allowance. The Henderson Foundation’s support will serve these high-achieving students and encourage a more inclusive campus environment.”

The Henderson Foundation was established by the late Wilbur C. Henderson Jr., founder and CEO of the Henderson Group commercial real estate development company in southeastern Pennsylvania. The foundation honors the legacy of Wilbur and his wife, Betty Lea, through support for veterans, medical professionals and community development in the Delaware County region. Previous gifts to Penn State Brandywine from the foundation include the naming of the David Henderson Lobby in the Student Union — in honor of Wilbur and Betty Lea’s late son — and sponsorship and support for the campus’s annual gala, benefiting student scholarships.

“Both David Henderson and his son went to Penn State, along with others on our board and in the Henderson Group,” said Bill Taylor, chair of the Henderson Foundation. “And Wilbur was a veteran of World War II who believed strongly in giving back to those who served.”

“When Wilbur first asked me to join the foundation board, he told me that our goal was to ‘do good for people,’” said Taylor. “There’s nothing better than education to get someone ahead in this country, and with the Wilbur C. and Betty Lea Henderson Foundation Scholarship, we’re hoping we can help veteran and military students and their families get their degrees and continue to live and work in our community.”

The Wilbur C. and Betty Lea Henderson Foundation Scholarship will support students enrolled or planning to enroll at Penn State Brandywine who have achieved superior academic records or who manifest promise of outstanding academic success. Military service will be inclusive of those who are veterans, active duty servicemembers, reservists or National Guard members, or who are currently enrolled in the campus ROTC program. Scholarship support may also be offered to student dependents, who include spouses, siblings or children.

Penn State Brandywine offers 14 bachelor’s degrees that can be completed on campus and the first two years of more than 275 Penn State degrees. The residential campus enrolls nearly 1,400 students.

The Wilbur C. and Betty Lea Henderson Foundation gift will advance “A Greater Penn State for 21st Century Excellence,” a focused campaign that seeks to elevate Penn State’s position as a leading public university in a world defined by rapid change and global connections. To learn more about “A Greater Penn State for 21st Century Excellence,” visit greaterpennstate.psu.edu.

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