Significant gift made to Penn State Brandywine for new student union dining hall

Jerry Parsons of Penn State Brandywine

Pictured from left to right: Penn State President Eric Barron; Eleanor Parsons; Jerry Parsons, chairman and CEO of Communications Test Design, Inc.; and Kristin Woolever, Penn State Brandywine Chancellor. 

Credit: Mel Epps, Third Eye Productions, Inc.

MEDIA, Pa. — Penn State Brandywine alumnus Gerald “Jerry” Parsons and his wife Eleanor have made a significant gift to the University to name “Parsons Hall,” the dining hall located in the campus’ newly constructed student union building that opened this fall.

As the heart of the new structure, the dining hall is the largest space in the student union and a place for students to connect with others in the campus community, study and dine in-between classes. In addition to Parsons Hall, the new student union building includes conference space, student recreation areas, the campus bookstore and student affairs offices.

“As a member of the campus advisory board for many years, I am acutely aware of the character, work ethic and potential of Penn State Brandywine’s students and I understand how philanthropy can impact our students’ experience and ability to achieve goals,” Parsons said. 

“We have a great need in our region for educated people who have the skills, qualifications and experience to enter the workforce and make a meaningful contribution,” Parsons added. “Brandywine recognizes this and is taking big steps in making sure its students are well prepared for these roles. As a Penn State alumnus and neighbor, I felt it was important to contribute to the making of tomorrow’s leaders and support our local campus.”

Parsons is chairman and CEO of Communications Test Design, Inc. (CTDI), a global engineering, repair and logistics company based in West Chester, Pennsylvania, and a 1974 engineering graduate of Penn State. Before transitioning to the Harrisburg campus, he attended Brandywine, where he was among the first students to attend classes at the current campus location. Since his graduation, he has played an integral role in growing the campus from one building to the six-building, 112-acre campus it is today.

Parsons served as chairman of Brandywine’s campus advisory board for many years and remains active on the board. He has recruited others to sit on the board and has been a powerful community advocate for the campus and its students. He has been instrumental in raising funds for Brandywine and was a key member of the team that helped the campus raise more than $6.8 million during the University's "For the Future" campaign, surpassing its goal of $6 million. Additionally, Jerry serves on the Penn State Global Advisory Council.

Eleanor Parsons is also a familiar face around the Brandywine campus, where she served many years as a dedicated volunteer for the annual fundraising event that benefits Brandywine’s scholarship fund. She also is active in generating community support for the success and growth of the campus. The Parsons have three children and seven grandchildren.

In 2009, Jerry Parsons received the Alumni Fellow award, the highest award given by the Penn State Alumni Association. Parsons’ other honors include induction into the Chester County Business Hall of Fame, the Chester County Chamber CEO of the Year Award and the Harold Martin Business Leadership Award from the Exton Region Chamber of Commerce. Parsons is a recognized community leader and philanthropist. He received the St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Award given by the National Catholic Educational Association and the Papal Honor of Sir Gregory the Great for his distinguished service to Catholic education. He is an active supporter and Leadership Donor for the United Way of Chester County. Today, he is the executive vice president of the Foundation for Catholic Education and co-chair of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia's Executive Board of Elementary Education. 

“We have a long-standing relationship with Jerry and Eleanor and we are extremely grateful for all they have contributed to Penn State Brandywine over the years,” Chancellor Kristin Woolever said. “Parsons Hall not only transforms our campus but transforms the educational experience for all of our students, whether they live on campus, off campus or commute from home.”

Penn State Brandywine is located in Middletown Township, Delaware County, with an enrollment of about 1,400 students. The campus offers two associate degrees, 12 baccalaureate degrees and the first two years of more than 150 additional baccalaureate degrees that can be completed at another Penn State campus.

Gifts from Penn State’s alumni and friends have been essential to the success of the University’s historic land-grant mission to serve the public good. To fulfill that mission for a new era of rapid change and global connections, the University has begun "A Greater Penn State for 21st Century Excellence," a fast-paced campaign focused on the three key imperatives of a public university. Private support will keep the door to higher education open and enable students to graduate on time and on track to success; create transformative experiences on Penn State campuses and around the globe that tap the full potential of Penn Staters to make a difference; and impact the world through discovery, innovation, and entrepreneurship. To learn more, please visit