Penn State Altoona chancellor and dean, husband endow Open Doors Scholarship

ALTOONA, Pa. — Lori J. Bechtel-Wherry, chancellor and dean of Penn State Altoona, and her husband, Timothy L. Wherry, have made a $30,000 gift commitment to endow the Lori J. Bechtel-Wherry and Timothy Lee Wherry Open Doors Scholarship to support students enrolled in the Open Doors programs at Penn State Altoona.

The Open Doors Scholarship Program offers a 2:1 match to donors who make a minimum $30,000 commitment, payable over five years, to establish a scholarship in support of the Open Doors programs at Penn State. Programs at Penn State Altoona include the Pathway to Success Summer Start program (PaSSS), RaiseMe, and Complete Penn State. After June 30, the University will provide a 1:1 match to gifts of $50,000 or more to create Open Doors scholarships.

Bechtel-Wherry has served as chancellor and dean of Penn State Altoona for 14 years. A professor of biobehavioral health and women’s, gender, and sexuality studies, Bechtel-Wherry began her career at University Park and has been at Penn State Altoona for 33 years. She served as the first head of the Division of Education, Human Development, and Social Sciences when the Penn State Altoona campus became Penn State Altoona, a four-year baccalaureate degree-granting college of the University, in July 1997. Later, she served as the associate dean for academic affairs and interim CEO and dean before assuming the role of chancellor and dean. Timothy L. Wherry retired from Penn State Altoona in 2010 as associate professor of library and information sciences (college librarian) and associate dean for information technology after a 20-year career at the college and a 30-year career in higher education.

The two share a deep appreciation of higher education and recognize the importance of access and affordability.

“We believe that every student who is capable and desirous of a college education should be able to pursue that dream. We have known many excellent students who struggle to make ends meet. Often times they require only a small amount of financial support to stay enrolled in college. The Open Doors Scholarship Program provides a wonderful opportunity to add matching funds to our gift so that we can have a meaningful impact on students' lives. It just felt like the right thing to do,” stated Lori J. Bechtel-Wherry and Timothy L. Wherry.

The couple has supported various scholarships, capital projects, academic initiatives, and community programs at Penn State. In 2008, they celebrated their marriage through a joint gift to Penn State Altoona to name the Timothy L. Wherry and Lori J. Bechtel-Wherry Study in the Robert E. Eiche Library, in addition to establishing an endowed enhancement fund for the library. They were inducted into the University’s Mount Nittany Society and the Platinum category of Penn State Altoona’s Ivyside Society.

This 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. With the support of alumni and friends, "A Greater Penn State" seeks to fulfill the three key imperatives of a 21st century public university: keeping the doors to higher education open to hardworking students regardless of financial well-being; creating transformative experiences that go beyond the classroom; and impacting the world by fueling discovery, innovation and entrepreneurship. To learn more about "A Greater Penn State for 21st Century Excellence," visit