Alumnus Rick Barger receives University Alumni Service Award

MIDDLETOWN, Pa. — Rick Barger, a 1971 bachelor’s of business administration graduate of Penn State Harrisburg, has received the Philip Philip Mitchell Alumni Service Award from the Penn State Alumni Association for his significant contributions in public service on behalf of the University.

Barger, a retired financial executive, was most recently the executive vice president and treasurer at Diakon Lutheran Social Ministries, of Allentown, Pennsylvania. Diakon operates a dozen senior living and housing communities and a range of services for children, youths, families and older adults in Pennsylvania and Maryland, directly serving more than 63,000 people annually.

A prestigious recognition endowed by Philip P. and Elizabeth Mitchell, the Alumni Service Award allows for the recipient to choose a Penn State fund, project or initiative to support with a $1,000 gift made in the recipient’s name. Barger’s award supports the Student Emergency Assistance Fund.

Barger has provided more than three decades of dedicated service to Penn State. His commitment to a Penn State Harrisburg education began from his earliest days as a student. While finishing his bachelor’s degree, he would walk several miles each day from his apartment to campus, leaving the car at home for his wife, Patty, who was expecting twins. Today, he is the chair of Penn State Harrisburg’s “Campaign for a Greater Penn State” Committee and dedicates much of his time to ensuring educational excellence at Penn State Harrisburg.

He created the Barger Family Trustee Scholarship to serve Penn State Harrisburg students, and the Barger Fund for Penn State Harrisburg in memory of Jonathan P. Barger, to enrich Penn State Harrisburg by providing funds for charitable purposes used at the discretion of the chancellor.

In 1980, while employed at the accounting firm Ernst and Whinney, which later became Ernst and Young, Barger started an annual giving program for Penn State Harrisburg alumni working there. This effort became the college’s first endowed scholarship created by alumni and has helped multiple generations of students. The first recipient of that scholarship, Ron Bittner, a 1985 alumnus, was inspired to pay it forward by creating the Ronald H. Bittner Scholastic Achievement Award in Accounting, due in large part to Barger’s example. 

Barger has been a member of numerous boards, committees and councils over the years, including the Penn State Harrisburg Board of Advisers; the School of Business Administration Advisory Board, since its inception in 1999; the Penn State Harrisburg Alumni Society Senior Council, since its inception in 2008; the college’s first Library Campaign in 1998; and the 25th Anniversary Committee in 1991. 

Barger received the Penn State Harrisburg Alumni Achievement Award in 1982, and, in 1989, the Penn State Alumni Fellow award. He has played an integral role in bringing alumni and others together to support Penn State Harrisburg. In addition, Barger also enjoys interacting with students. He makes himself available to students in multiple ways, including individual mentoring and serving on panels. He has been a guest speaker to numerous clubs and classes.