Posted: June 17, 2021

York Ag Products has created the Arthur R. and Muriel B. McAlister Endowment in Entrepreneurship and Innovation through a $50,000 gift with a one-to-one University match.

With the goal of encouraging the entrepreneurial spirit of students in the College of Agricultural Sciences, York Ag Products has created the Arthur R. and Muriel B. McAlister Endowment in Entrepreneurship and Innovation through a $50,000 gift with a one-to-one University match, creating a total endowment of $100,000.

The University provided the matching funds through the Economic Development Incentive Matching Program, which supports select initiatives that will drive job and business creation in Pennsylvania.

The endowment will benefit the growing Entrepreneurship and Innovation Program in the college, which helps students to learn and think like entrepreneurs and earn a minor, while also supporting faculty in research commercialization opportunities. The funds will support coursework; forums; engagement, mentoring, networking and professional development opportunities; transfer of research solutions from faculty and graduate students to the market; and more.

“The Arthur R. and Muriel B. McAlister Endowment in Entrepreneurship and Innovation will go a long way toward encouraging an entrepreneurial mindset in the college,” said Dan Azzara, director of entrepreneurship and innovation and the Alan R. Warehime Faculty Chair in Agribusiness. “It will provide learning experiences that challenge our students and faculty looking to take action and solve problems facing industry and society.”

Mark Gagnon, Harbaugh Entrepreneur and Innovation Faculty Scholar and associate teaching professor in agribusiness, echoed those thoughts, saying, “York Ag is a sustaining supporter of the College of Agricultural Sciences. Their gift will benefit our students through immersive entrepreneurial learning experiences in which students can act upon their ideas to create value for society and accelerate their career potential.”

York Ag Products, which was founded in 1988 by W. Dale Anderson and Arthur McAlister, has a long history with Penn State. Anderson, a 1936 Penn State agricultural education graduate, and McAlister, University of Maine alumnus with a degree in animal husbandry, partnered with Penn State in the mid-1980s on research to prove that their company’s York Calcium Chips could replace the oyster shell in the competitive animal feed ingredient industry.

“It was their entrepreneurial spirit and desire to solve an industry challenge that set the foundation for York Ag’s future success,” said Bill Achor, president of York Ag.

With a desire to give back to the community, in 2011 York Ag created the W. Dale Anderson Memorial Trustee Scholarship for students pursuing an Animal Science degree. That same year, York Ag welcomed Achor to its team as a member of the third generation of company leadership.

He eventually took over as president in 2019 and wanted to continue York Ag’s philanthropic efforts. Achor and York Ag established the J. Richard and Deborah S. Roenigk Family Scholarship in Agricultural and Extension Education at Penn State before following it up with this new endowment for entrepreneurship and innovation in honor of York Ag’s original entrepreneur, Arthur McAlister.

“We hope this endowment allows students to enhance their diversity of thinking and perspective, while also giving them the chance to experience real-life challenges and situations,” said Achor. “It’s not always rosy, easy and fun. Sometimes it’s just grit, humility, failure, making mistakes and learning how to come back and try again. I hope this endowment helps ideas, products and research that would be beneficial to the industry and society to make it outside the university setting.”

According to Achor, York Ag has a philosophy of giving that encompasses supporting such causes as local food banks, charities chosen by York Ag employees and a local inner-city school in York, as well as an international component supporting an orphanage, farm, medical center and school in Uganda. For York Ag and Achor, it boils down to being grateful and making an impact in the community.

“When you receive a gift, you give back,” said Achor. “We had another good year and we wanted to continue following our philosophy, as well as continue encouraging the collaboration between industry and education. We’re glad to be in the position to honor a past owner and founder of the business, but also to help prepare the next generation of entrepreneurs out there for their future failures and ultimately greater successes.”

For more information about Penn State’s Economic Development Incentive Matching Program, contact Heather Winfield at hbw11@psu.edu.

The Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences represents the foundation of Penn State and its land-grant mission to serve the public good. To fulfill that mission for a new era of rapid change and global connections, the University is pursuing "A Greater Penn State for 21st Century Excellence," a fast-paced campaign focused on the three key imperatives of a twenty-first-century public university: Open Doors, Create Transformative Experiences, and Impact the World. 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 http://agsci.psu.edu/giving. Information about the campaign is available at greaterpennstate.psu.edu.

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