Penn State Distinguished Alumnus, Former Trustee Larry Foster Dies

Penn State distinguished alumnus, generous donor, trustee, and public relations legend Larry Foster died last Thursday, Penn State confirmed. He was 88.

Foster’s influence in Penn State’s College of Communications and the university at large is ubiquitous. The 1948 journalism graduate previously served as the president of the Penn State Alumni Association and served three terms as an alumni-elected Penn State trustee. Foster and his wife Ellen donated more than $2 million to the College of Communications to “endow the Larry and Ellen Foster Professorship in Writing and Editing and to support the twice-a-year Foster-Foreman Conference of Distinguished Writers; they contributed generously to enhance Carnegie Building’s lobby, main conference room and student services area; they created the Lawrence G. and Ellen M. Foster Scholarship endowment; they endowed two Trustee Scholarships; and they provided a lead gift to establish the Arthur W. Page Center for Integrity in Public Communication, which is housed in the College of Communications,” according to Penn State

The Fosters also donated money to university-wide initiatives, including the Foster Auditorium in the Paterno library and an endowment for the Foster Librarian in Communications.

“Any words to try to summarize the Fosters’ impact would be an understatement,” said Dean Doug Anderson. “Larry and Ellen have, through their personal generosity, supported students, faculty, programs and facilities. The spectrum of their impact is incredible.”

Foster received national acclaim for his work on the 1982 Tylenol crisis. As the vice president of public relations for Johnson & Johnson, Foster led Tylenol’s response to to the outrage and confusion after seven people in Chicago died after ingesting Tylenol laced with cyanide.

Through it all, Foster’s dedication to his alma mater remained stronger than ever.

“The impact that the Fosters’ generosity has had on the College is unparalleled and strategically invested,” Anderson continued. “To say that Larry Foster is the godfather of the modern-day College of Communications would be an understatement.”

Penn State has lost a great and loyal son. He will be sorely missed, but his impact will be felt by the thousands of Penn State students that continue to utilize the resources he provided to our university.

About the Author

Kevin Horne

Kevin Horne was the editor of Onward State from 2012-2014 and currently holds the position of Managing Editor Emeritus, which is a fake title he made up. He graduated from Penn State with degrees journalism and political science in 2014 and is currently seeking his J.D. at the Penn State Dickinson School of Law. A third generation Penn Stater from Williamsport, Pa., Kevin is also the president of the graduate student government. Email: [email protected]


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