A Lifelong Friendship
Through the years at Weis Markets, a great trust and friendship grew between Charles and the company's young corporate counsel, Sidney Apfelbaum. That relationship ultimately sparked another great friendship with Susquehanna's 11th president, the energetic and visionary Gustave Weber.
During its first 100 years, Susquehanna was a modest institution facing nearly constant challenges and little philanthropic support. By the 1970s, when Charles Degenstein became acquainted with the university, Susquehanna was at a crossroads. The student body and campus footprint had more than doubled since "Gus" Weber took the helm in 1959. But the physical and programmatic expansion, albeit necessary, came at a steep price and Susquehanna was struggling financially. That all changed a few years after Charles and Gus met.
Charles' first major gift to Susquehanna resulted in the naming of the campus center in his honor. This was followed in the 1980s by the visionary pledge and gifts that created not only the Sigmund Weis School of Business, named in honor of his father-in-law, but an equal-sized endowment to support the liberal arts.
Adding Up the Impact
During his lifetime, Charles made gifts of $25 million to Susquehanna University. And, since its founding in 1994, the Degenstein Foundation has provided an additional $25 million in gifts. The impact of these gifts cannot be overstated.
Capital projects supported by Charles and his namesake foundation include Apfelbaum Hall, the studio art building, numerous residence halls, the Charles B. Degenstein Campus Center and its Degenstein Center Theater and Lore Degenstein Gallery, and Cunningham Center for Music and Art and its Stretansky Concert Hall.
The program endowments and initiatives established or supported by Degenstein philanthropy includes Charlie's Coffeehouse, the Arlin M. Adams Center for Law and Society, and The Joseph I. and Ellen Weis Goldstein Fund for Jewish Life and Learning.
Endowed scholarships such as SU4U and other financial aid giftfts established by the foundation support deserving students from the central Susquehanna Valley and some of Susquehanna's top talents. Since its inception, the foundation has supported the education of dozens of local students through the SU4U program and countless more through the many named scholarships it has established through the years.