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Lehigh receives $5 million gift to support endowed scholarships

Ernest and Elizabeth Althouse in a 1968 photo.

Lehigh University has received a $5 million gift for endowed scholarships from the estate of Ernest E. Althouse ’26 of Willow Street, Pa.

The bequest from Althouse and his wife, Elizabeth Plank Althouse, is the largest single gift to financial aid that has been made to Lehigh’s Shine Forever campaign. The gift establishes the Adam J. and Minnie M. Althouse Scholarship Fund in memory of Althouse’s parents. The endowment will support undergraduate students in the P.C. Rossin College of Engineering and Applied Science.

“Lehigh’s founder, Asa Packer, understood that smart and talented students are the most important resource a society has, and he established scholarships to keep Lehigh open to the students of his time,” said President Gregory Farrington. “With this marvelously generous gift to student scholarships, the Althouses follow in his footsteps. Their endowment will give as many as a dozen young women and men the gift of a Lehigh education, and the fund will only grow in the years to come. We are most grateful.”

Because financial aid is critical to bringing the best students to Lehigh, scholarship is a top priority of Lehigh’s current Shine Forever campaign.

Ensuring a bright future for others

The Althouses were concerned with the rising costs of a college education. Ernest Althouse once wrote to his lawyer: “Our parents were deprived of the benefits of a college education, but they made sacrifices so that they could give each of us a college education. In loving memory of our wonderful parents, Elizabeth and I want to ensure that the endowment is ample to produce sufficient income to meet higher tuition costs in the future and thereby make it possible for other parents with limited financial means to give their children a college education.”

Althouse was born in 1904 near Strausstown, Berks County, Pa., and grew up in Hamburg. He graduated from Lehigh University in 1926 with a degree in electrical engineering. He was a member of Tau Beta Phi and Eta Kappa Nu, national honorary engineering societies.

He began his career with the Duquesne Light Company in Pittsburgh, Pa., before joining the Central Hudson Gas and Electric Corporation in Poughkeepsie, N.Y. He served in various capacities over the years before he was appointed vice president in charge of operations in 1954. He became senior vice president in 1964, a member of the board of directors in 1967, and then president of the company in 1968. After his retirement in 1975, be served as vice chairman of the board until 1986. In addition, he once served as director of the Utilities Mutual Insurance Company and of Mid-Hudson Pattern, Inc. Althouse held membership in a number of professional and trade organizations. He died in April at the age of 101.

Elizabeth Plank Althouse was born in 1901 in Gallupville, N.Y. She earned a degree in home economics from Skidmore College in 1924 and worked at Central Hudson Gas and Electric as home service director until 1935. She was a member of the Mahwenawasigh Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution and member and registrar of the Duchess of York Chapter of the Daughters of the American Colonists. She was a leader in the community and served a number of community organizations including the Mabel Jean Reid Art Study Club, the Poughkeepsie Day Nursery Association, and the Dutchess County Unit of the American Cancer Society. She passed away in 1995.

Ernest and Elizabeth Althouse were married in 1935 and were members of the First Presbyterian Church in Lancaster, Pa. They lived in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., until after Ernest’s retirement, when they moved to Willow Street, Pa.

The Althouses will be honored in October 2006 at Lehigh’s annual Founder’s Day ceremony and their names will be inscribed on the university’s Leadership Plaza at the Alumni Memorial Building to ensure that their generosity is always remembered by the Lehigh family.

Their gift is part of Shine Forever: The Campaign for Lehigh, a $500 million campaign focused on raising endowment for faculty chairs, undergraduate scholarships, academic programs, and student life and athletics, in order to attract the finest students and faculty and to continually enhance the quality and reputation of the university.

For more information about the campaign, its priorities and progress, click here.

--Joanne C. Anderson

Posted on Wednesday, May 17, 2006

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