At 125 years old, the Alumni Association’s oldest and largest chapter is still proving its status as the Alpha.
The Greater Pittsburgh Chapter wrapped up its anniversary year with a move that honors the past and the future: an endowment supporting the Alumni Association’s FastStart program, named for one of the chapter’s most beloved members, Franco Harris.
“We are the first chapter to endow the FastStart program, and we decided to rename it The PSAA Greater Pittsburgh Chapter Franco Harris Memorial FastStart Program Endowment,” says Kathy Kasperik ’92 H&HD, a past president of the chapter and former member of Alumni Council.
What started with a handful of dedicated alumni in 1898 has flourished to include thousands of members, a couple hundred of whom typically show up to signature events such as the annual Blue White Ball fundraiser for THON and Penn State Day at PNC Park. “We do this for the love of the university and each other and this community we’ve created,” says chapter president Kristen Conti ’05 Com.
Among Kasperik’s favorite chapter events were the two Alumni Association-sponsored pre-game mixers before the Penn State-Pitt football games at Heinz Field in 2016 and 2018. “We shut down the Hard Rock Café both times,” she says of the chapter-hosted events, which included Creamery ice cream and a performance by State College-based band Velveeta.
Conti says the easy drive from Allegheny County to Beaver Stadium keeps the chapter from hosting many home game watch parties, since so many members have season tickets. But, she adds, that same proximity to their alma mater is a key to the chapter’s longevity: “The high concentration of alumni, students, and friends and family in the area certainly helps to sustain us.”