Donor Stories

Donor Stories - Millersville University Faculty and Staff

Dr. Charles Scharnberger

Dr. Charles ScharnbergerDr. Charles Scharnberger has a long history of supporting the success of students at Millersville University. He joined the faculty in 1973 and served as professor of Geology for 30 years, nine of them as chair of the department of Earth Sciences, before retiring in 2003. Originally from St. Louis, Scharnberger earned a bachelor’s degree from Amherst College in Massachusetts and master’s and doctoral degrees from Washington University in St. Louis. Currently, he is a member of the Millersville University Foundation board of directors, where he previously served two terms in the 1990s.

Reflecting on his career at Millersville, Scharnberger says that he appreciates having had the opportunity to teach geology to undergraduate students. His favorite part of geology was being outdoors, what geologists call “field work.” His favorite classes were structural geology and exploration geophysics, both of which involved extensive field work for students, as well as the senior-level course in geological field mapping. In graduate school, Scharnberger’s concentration was geophysics, and when he came to Millersville, he established the university seismograph station. He became known as an expert on local earthquakes and was often interviewed on that subject by news media.

The gratification that Scharnberger found through his experience at Millersville led him to give back to the university to make a difference in the lives of students. He began to make small financial contributions to the university as a faculty member. In the 1980s, he donated to the Earth Sciences Department a series of books describing the geology of North America published by the Geological Society of America. This valuable series is available for students to consult in the department library.

As a further effort to make a positive impact for students, he established the Dr. Charles K. Scharnberger Geology Scholarship, to be awarded to a junior or senior majoring in geology and in good academic standing. Scharnberger says, “I really enjoyed my time here. I liked my colleagues; I liked the campus; I liked the area; I liked the students. I thought I had gotten a lot out of my experience at Millersville so I should give something back.” In addition to the scholarship fund, Scharnberger has established an estate gift through his IRA. “The most gratifying part of giving back,” he says, “is seeing the success of students.”

To learn more and to request a free Millersville University Estate Planning Guide, please visit or contact the Development Office at or at (717) 871-7520.

  • Donor Story - Happy Memories


    Donor Profile: Barbara (Class of 1965) & Peter Hunsberger

    Relationship to MillersvilleHunsbergers

    Barbara is a retired University librarian and an alumna of the Class of 1965. She is also an eighth generation Biemesderfer whose grandfather, D. Luke Biemesderfer was president of Millersville from 1943-1965.

    Types of Gifts
    Life insurance policy, Outright gift

    Please reflect on your experiences at Millersville.
    As the acquisition librarian at Millersville from 1973-2001, I saw many changes in research and reference sources. From books, journals, and the Dewey Decimal System to computers, online research, and Google, the way students find information has changed drastically. It is much more automated, much faster, but there is still the challenge of discerning what information is accurate. Where does it come from - and, is it a valid source? You can't just Google it.

    How did you decide a gift of life insurance was right for you?
    Sometime in the 1980s, there was a news article in the local newspaper about an insurance gift to MU. I thought this looked like a way that Peter and I could make a gift to MU that was affordable and meaningful. We agreed that this is what we wanted to do and that we wanted to give the gift in honor of my grandparents, Dr. D. Luke and Elva Biemesderfer. Chip Kirchner helped us to set this up with the assistance of a financial planner.

    What made you give to Millersville?
    I am an alum of MU and my Grandfather Biemesderfer was president at MU for 22 years. He came to MU as president in 1943, the year I was born, and retired in 1965, the year I graduated. My maternal grandfather, Harold Brenner, was the postmaster and receiving clerk at MU for over 30 years. I have many happy memories of the campus from my childhood and I enjoyed attending MU as a student. As a faculty member I learned first-hand what a wonderful opportunity MU can be for most students. Many students have financial difficulties in getting through college and we wanted to help them if we could.

    To learn more and to request a free Millersville University Estate Planning Guide, please visit or contact the Development Office at or at (717) 871-7520.

  • Donor Story - A Valuable Education

    Donor Profile: Dr. Mary Elizabeth Dixon

    Relationship to MillersvilleDrdixon p Jpg
    Dr. Dixon was a retired Physical Education teacher, Coach of the women's field hockey and basketball programs, and founder and advisor to the Dolphin Club, synchronized swimming team.

    Type of Gift

    Life estate agreement

    Dr. Dixon passed away in 2009 at the age of 93. This profile has been taken from an interview with her in 2007 for the Millersville University Alumni Review magazine.

    Please reflect on your experiences at Millersville.
    I knew I wanted to teach physical education at the post-secondary level. It was kind of a stroke of luck that I landed here at Millersville. When job hunting after World War II, four of Pennsylvania's state teachers colleges had openings. President Biemesderfer persuaded me to come to Millersville.

    What motivates you to give?
    I support organizations and causes which are of personal value to me including Wheatland, Rock Ford Plantation, the Farmland Preservation Trust, Fulton Opera House, Lancaster County Citizen Scholarship Foundation, and Millersville students. Each one suggests a value in history, in what should be preserved, in what is important for observing and learning.

    How did you decide a life estate agreement was the type of gift you wanted to give?
    In 1957, I built a home in Millersville. About a decade ago, I decided to contract with the University for a life-estate agreement, and I immediately realized a number of substantial deductions for my gift. My home is now the property of Millersville University. I still live there and will do so for the remainder of my life.

    Why did you make this gift?
    I enjoyed my career and Millersville and am grateful for the opportunity to have known faculty and staff personally. Perhaps most of all, Millersville has fulfilled the high commitment to education which my parents passed along.

    To learn more and to request a free Millersville University Estate Planning Guide, please visit or contact the Development Office at or at (717) 871-7520.