On Oct. 5, The 2012 Homecoming Parade will descend down College Avenue, with the newly selected Grand Marshals, Terry and Kim Pegula, representing Penn State and the State College community.
However, the honor and acknowledgement they will be receiving was not earned without their hard work and generosity, as well as the successful inspiring of the Penn State Homecoming directors, enticing them to choose them for the position.
“There isn't a set criteria for selecting a Grand Marshal. Every member has an opportunity to share their story and their information.” Bridgette Carrier (senior-kinesiology), Homecoming executive director, said.
However, even though there is not a set criterion to choose the figures, competition is still intense, and the process of selection is lengthy for the Homecoming directors.
“We accept nominations of prominent alumni and community members for each position. We normally get around 20 nominations for each,” TJ Bard (junior-economics), Homecoming alumni relations director, said. “After nominations are closed within the executive committee, we spend the better part of a meeting discussing the nominees, their service, accomplishments, etc. We then move into multiple voting rounds until we select that year's grand marshal and honorary grand marshal.”
According to Homecoming Public Relations Director Robert Walter (sophomore-marketing), being a Grand Marshal serves a much greater symbolic and literal purpose than just participating in the homecoming parade and other related events.
“The Grand Marshal is someone who has graduated from Penn State, and has contributed somehow to the Penn State community and the world in general. They have had an impact, and at the same time, they represent Penn State in a positive way,” Walter said. “They are inspirational figures.”
Terry Pegula started climbing his way to the top when he founded his own company, East Resources Inc., in 1983. Throughout the next 27 years, his company became one of the largest privately held companies in the United States, selling for $4.7 billion in July of 2010.
In September of 2010, following the successful selling of his company, Pegula and his wife Kim donated $88 million of their profits to Penn State. This donation was the largest private gift the university every received.
The gift is being used to build and operate the Pegula Ice Arena, set to open Fall 2013, where the Men’s Ice Hockey team will be able to play its second season, as well as the first inaugural season of the Big Ten Conference. At the groundbreaking in April 2012, the Pegulas increased their donation to $102 million.
With Homecoming slowly approaching and lots of spirit events coming up soon, the Grand Marshal will be very busy and active in the community. Luckily, Bard said, the Pegulas could not be more excited to participate in such events.
“I have had the chance to talk to them and they are incredibly excited to be able to serve in this capacity this year,” Bard said. “Mrs. Pegula even said that the children are really excited to get to ride in the parade. I am excited to get to meet them and their entire family during homecoming week, not to mention to hear their incredible story of success.”
Along with Pegula’s multiple donations to the Penn State community, he is also considered honorable by the Homecoming committees for his previous success and underlying story.
“We were really impressed with the Pegulas. [Terry] came to Penn State, and he made it his mission to get an education and do something big,” Walter said. “He was really able to be successful with his life and with so little. I feel that everyone comes to Penn State with that same dream to get a good education, and to be able to give it back.”