Penn State alum, Harrisburg retiree pledges $1.85 million estate gift

Headshot of John Baskwill on campus

John Baskwill

Credit: Sharon Siegfried

MIDDLETOWN, Pa. — Penn State alumnus and retired Penn State Harrisburg staff member John R. Baskwill has pledged an estate gift of $1.85 million to the college.

Baskwill followed in his father’s footsteps to Penn State, earning a bachelor’s degree in accounting in 1979 and then a master of business administration degree in 1981 from the Smeal College of Business at University Park. He also earned a master’s degree in management information systems from Shippensburg University. He spent years working in the banking industry, starting as an internal auditor at Peoples National Bank in Shippensburg, moving to the audit department at Dauphin Deposit Bank and Trust in Harrisburg and later working in technology positions.

In 1998, Baskwill found a job listing at Penn State Harrisburg — a position he was excited about since he “bled blue and white” for most of his life, he said.

“I was lucky enough to get the job,” Baskwill said. He spent 25 years at Penn State Harrisburg before retiring as systems administrator in June 2023. During his time at the college, he was responsible for designing, building and maintaining the academic and administrative network and server environment for the campus.

Baskwill said he knew early in his career that he would want to leave a gift to Penn State.

“I have always believed in Penn State’s mission and how it can improve people’s lives, but I don’t pretend to know the best way to accomplish that,” Baskwill said. “So, I thought an unrestricted gift would allow the administration to decide the best way to use the money to strengthen Penn State Harrisburg because that is really my goal. I would like to see Penn State Harrisburg thrive far into the future, helping as many students as possible.”

Baskwill was known to put campus and student needs first, and when he wasn’t working, he could often be found at Penn State sporting events, including every home football game.

“We are so grateful to John for his inspiring investment in Penn State Harrisburg’s future, as well as for his years of dedicated service to the college,” said David M. Callejo Pérez, chancellor and dean at Penn State Harrisburg. “Gifts such as his play a critical role in helping the college address key priorities and opportunities in years to come, and we appreciate the generous support.”

Gifts to Penn State Harrisburg will advance the University’s historic land-grant mission to serve and lead. Through philanthropy, alumni and friends are helping students to join the Penn State family and prepare for lifelong success; driving research, outreach and economic development that grow our shared strength and readiness for the future; and increasing the University’s impact for families, patients and communities across the commonwealth and around the world. Learn more by visiting