After today’s Kent State game, while enjoying myself at a tailgate, I spotted Terry Pegula.
I was excited, to say the least. This was the man who had just yesterday donated $88 million to our dear university so it could create both a men’s and women’s Division 1 hockey program, enough to pay for everything from student-athlete scholarships to a world-class ice facility. A real-life billionaire, to boot!
I asked permission of my host to pester Pegula with a question– just one, I promised. He obliged and over I trotted to a man who seemed to be enjoying himself, with an expensive-looking cigar in one hand and some even more expensive red wine in the other.
“Mr. Pegula,” I said, “first off, let me just say that a lot of students are really excited about hockey coming to Happy Valley.”
Pegula said he was glad to make the gift, and that hockey was one of his two favorite sports (the other: football). He said that he’s been close to Joe Battista for a while now, a relationship that was undoubtedly crucial to his magnanimous donation. (I suggest you head over to StateCollege.com to read Joe Battista’s reflection about working with the Pegulas as they planned their gift.)
I told him that I run a Penn State student news website and asked if I could ask him a question for our readers. He said sure, so I proceeded.
“If you could tell students here at Penn State one thing, what would it be?”
He paused for just a millisecond before saying,
I would tell students that this contribution could be just the tip of the iceberg, the first of many such gifts, if the development of the Marcellus Shale is allowed to proceed.
Pegula, of course, made his billions through an early bet on the profitability of natural gas reserves embedded in the Marcellus Shale. With that, as Pegula turned back to the group with which he was seated, I thanked the billionaire donor and left him to enjoy the rest of his football Saturday. I was intrigued by the statement, though; that the donor thought Penn State students must know that the tapping of those reserves is a good thing, and didn’t simply spout off a generic platitude as I had expected.
So now my question to y’all is… if you could tell Pegula one thing, what would it be?