Posted: October 31, 2022

Mark Saunders and his partner, Lynn Walker, longtime donors to the College of Agricultural Sciences, have committed $250,000 to endow a graduate scholarship.

Mark Saunder and Lynn Walker

Mark Saunder and Lynn Walker

Philanthropy often provides an avenue of connection between a donor and an organization, creating and strengthening a relationship that can last for years. For alumnus Mark Saunders and his partner, Lynn Walker, longtime donors to the College of Agricultural Sciences, funding undergraduate scholarships has done just that. To further deepen that connection, Saunders and Walker have committed $250,000 to endow a graduate scholarship.

The H. Mark Saunders and Lynn M. Walker Graduate Scholarship will benefit full-time graduate students who exhibit academic excellence and are doctoral candidates in the Department of Animal Science. Each scholarship will be awarded once per academic year with possibility of renewal.

“We are grateful for donors like Mark Saunders and Lynn Walker who recognize the needs of our graduate students and also believe in and support the critical work going on in the College of Agricultural Sciences,” said Blair Siegfried, associate dean for research and graduate education and director of the Pennsylvania Agricultural Experiment Station. “This support will help us ensure we can continue to recruit and retain the best and brightest students in our animal science graduate programs.”

Saunders, who graduated in 1977 with a degree in animal science, originally came to Penn State to pursue studies in landscape architecture. However, he always had an interest in agriculture, which was further developed during his first year in school by his residence hall’s proximity to the dairy barns and the College of Agricultural Sciences. The following summer, he took a job at a dairy farm in Sullivan County and realized he wanted to pursue a career as a veterinarian.

Saunders went on to attend the University of Pennsylvania Veterinary School where he met Walker and had a 20-year career in veterinary radiology, which is also Walker’s field. The couple moved to Vermont in 2003 and opened a specialty veterinary practice. Today, they run the LYNKS Group, a veterinary practice specializing in in-house and teleradiology services.

“Lynn and I have always supported undergraduate student scholarships, first an endowment for pre-veterinary students and a second we opened to the entire college,” said Saunders. “After fully funding those, we were trying to decide what we wanted to do next.”

After learning more about the need for graduate support, Saunders and Walker opted to create a graduate scholarship.

“We know there is not only a lot of competition to get into graduate school, but it’s also highly competitive among schools to get the best and the brightest students,” said Saunders. “Being able to offer strong recruitment packages to potential students is important. Having outstanding students who contribute to the research program also enhances the reputation of the college.

Saunders noted that the couple’s other hope is to ease the financial burden on graduate students. “We hope this scholarship helps them be more financially stable, lowers their stress level, and allows them the time and energy to fully devote themselves to their program and their projects, and then go on to be excellent ambassadors for the college and University,” he said.

Saunders, who has been a guest speaker at the college’s annual Scholarships and Awards Celebration in the past, pointed out that their support goes beyond the finances.

“This is an endorsement of the direction the college is going, the quality of students and the quality of the leadership, and the relationship we have with the school,” he said. “We have a greater connection and feel more involved than we would if we had not made these gifts.”

The couple also said they really appreciate the relationships they have built through the years with people at Penn State.

“We always feel so appreciated for what we do, even though it may be small compared to others,” Saunders said. “We feel so accepted and appreciated at Penn State. Whenever we visit and see people we have gotten to know through the years, we feel like we are coming home.”

The Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences represents the foundation of Penn State and its land-grant mission to serve the public good. Through teaching, research, and Extension, and because of generous alumni and friends, the College of Agricultural Sciences is able to offer scholarships to one in four students, create life-shaping opportunities, and make a difference in the world by fueling discovery, innovation, and entrepreneurship. To learn more about supporting the college, visit

With the record-breaking success of “A Greater Penn State for 21st Century Excellence,” which raised $2.2 billion from 2016 to 2022, philanthropy is helping to sustain the University’s tradition of education, research and service to communities across the Commonwealth and around the globe. Scholarships enable our institution to open doors and welcome students from every background, support for transformative experiences allows our students and faculty to fulfill their vast potential for leadership, and gifts toward discovery and excellence help us to serve and impact the world we share. To learn more about the impact of giving and the continuing need for support, please visit

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