Exterior shot of the front of Old Main

Corporate Sponsorships Working Group


Penn State is embarking on an effort to develop a University-wide commercial partnership program that will provide a unified strategy and approach to commercial partnership opportunities and help Penn State optimize the benefits of future collaborative partnerships across the University. The commercial partnership effort stems from Penn State’s Resource Optimization Initiative, which launched in 2018 as a multi-year effort to study the affordability of a Penn State degree and to identify potential cost savings and opportunities to enhance revenue and fulfill strategic initiatives. A Corporate Sponsorship Working Group, which is one of the groups involved in reviews and activities through the Resource Optimization Initiative, has enlisted a team of leading marketing and sponsorship leaders to help develop the program.

Why has the University initiated this effort and what are the benefits to the Penn State community?

The University is in the preliminary stages of a process to develop a University-wide commercial partnership program that will help Penn State optimize the benefits of future collaborative partnerships across the University for students, faculty, staff, alumni and community members in a meaningful and authentic way. As part of ongoing efforts to support University services and fulfill strategic initiatives, this new commercial partnership program will help generate new incremental revenue for the University, while also providing new opportunities for programmatic support and services that benefit students, faculty and staff across Penn State’s campuses.  

Will this program impact the kinds of partnerships Penn State enters into?

The University has a long and successful history of building meaningful and collaborative partnerships with private industry. With a new University-wide commercial partnership program, Penn State will continue to enter into partnerships with companies that share and respect Penn State’s values, culture and traditions and that align authentically with the University’s missions of teaching, research and service. The University carefully considers sponsorship and partnership agreements, and as part of this effort, the University will develop and put updated policies and processes in place to consider future proposed partnerships.

Does launching this program mean Penn State will be entering into more partnerships?

While still in the preliminary phases of this effort, the future commercial partnership program will take an integrated, University-wide approach that focuses on forming quality corporate partnerships that extend throughout the University and will not be limited to a single area, facility or program. This effort will help streamline and reduce duplication of agreements across various areas, and focus on forming more comprehensive, impactful partnerships. 

What are the steps in this process?

The Corporate Sponsorship Working Group has taken initial steps to examine how Penn State enters into partnerships with corporations and other entities, and how these partnerships benefit students, faculty, staff, alumni and the broader community. Before making recommendations to senior leadership on launching the commercial partnership program, the University will also undergo a comprehensive asset valuation, brand and audience equity research, and partnership rights and packaging development. The program is expected to launch by the end of the year. 

Can the Penn State community provide feedback?

In addition to conducting interviews about this effort with key stakeholders across the University, a marketing research study will be deployed beginning in August to seek additional input from the Penn State community, including students, faculty, staff, alumni, members of the general public and event attendees. Individuals who are randomly selected to participate in the study will receive an email with a link to the confidential survey. The study will gather data around community members’ perceptions and thoughts about the value and impact of corporate partnerships. 

Will the corporate partnership program affect existing partnership and sponsorship agreements and/or specific areas at the University that often seek partnerships with corporate entities?

While this effort is just getting underway, the University will develop and put updated policies and processes in place and will be reviewing new and continuing partnerships that align with Penn State’s mission, vision, values and brand. One of the primary goals of this effort is to maximize and streamline partnership opportunities across the entire institution, including offices, programs, departments, academic colleges and campuses. 

How will the group’s work impact potential naming rights to University facilities?

The University is in the preliminary planning stages of this effort. While naming rights may be considered as part of integrated, University-wide corporate partnership packages, they will not be the sole focus of any partnership. 

Will the commercial partnership program impact research funded by corporate sponsorships? If units are already proceeding with partnerships for research, can they continue?

The commercial partnership program will not impact research funded by corporate sponsorships, and units and departments should feel comfortable proceeding with pursuing sponsorships that support research endeavors. The Office of the Senior Vice President for Research (OSVPR) is participating in the Corporate Sponsorship Working Group and is advising the committee with respect to research. The purpose of this working group is to establish holistic partnerships with select companies to benefit the entire University. This work does not replace current corporate engagement programs but is viewed as a way to offer an additional avenue for resources and sponsorships by companies. Penn State is in the initial stages of developing this program, which will help optimize the benefits of commercial partnerships for students, faculty, and staff across the University, and will continue to provide updates about future plans as they are developed. For those with questions about corporate-sponsored research, please contact either the associate dean for research in your respective college or the Office of Industry Partnerships within OSVPR.