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LHU News

Berkebile '59 Continues Impacting Students Through LHU Foundation

Jim Berkebile '59

Giving back has always been natural for 1959 Lock Haven State Teacher’s College (LHSTC) graduate, Jim Berkebile. The pride he feels as a first-generation college graduate and retired principal of the former Lock Haven Junior High School makes assisting Lock Haven University students on their quest to earn a college degree and achieve their professional goals one of the philanthropic causes he is most passionate about.

Berkebile has been a financial supporter of the Lock Haven University Foundation (LHUF) for more than 30 years and since 2008, he has volunteered his time and talent to the Foundation as an elected member of the LHUF board of directors.

Berkebile is especially ardent about supporting athletic and academic scholarships, and the university’s student food pantry, The Haven Cupboard. He was the primary supporter responsible for renovations and athletic equipment upgrades in the historic Rogers Gymnasium – the oldest building on campus – and he was one of many major contributors who helped fund the construction of Lock Haven’s Durrwachter Alumni Conference Center (DACC).

“As I look around, I can see that alumni and donors really enjoy the Durrwachter building,” Berkebile said. “The goal all along was to inspire more alumni to return to campus to join us in supporting students at the university.”

“I struggled very much financially when I was a student,” he added. “Every little bit that an alumnus can provide helps make such a difference in the lives of students who need it.”

Originally from Johnstown, Berkebile came to Lock Haven in 1955 at the encouragement of a high school teacher who was also an LHSTC graduate. He visited campus, met with then-president Richard Parsons ’31, and was offered enrollment on the spot.

Immediately upon graduating, Berkebile began his career as a biology teacher at Lock Haven Junior High School. In 1960, he became an assistant coach with the wrestling team, and a few years later was appointed the athletic department’s financial manager. Soon thereafter, he was promoted to athletic director – a position he held for nearly two decades. During the final 12 years of his career, he also served as assistant principal, before retiring in 1989.

For his decades of generosity to the LHUF, there are multiple locations on campus that bear his name, including Berkebile Circle outside of Thomas Fieldhouse and the DACC’s Berkebile-Dwyer Atrium – named in combination with former LHU Foundation and Council of Trustees board member Chris Dwyer ’65. Dwyer, along with former LHU Foundation and Council of Trustees board member Ralph Lovette, were responsible for recruiting Berkebile to serve on the LHU board of directors in 2008.

“I joined the board because I felt that I could contribute something special and I wanted an opportunity to do more for the university and its students,” Berkebile said. “The LHU Foundation is an organization that makes you feel accepted, your ideas are valued, and you feel like you’re part of a very special cause.”

Berkebile’s 14 years of service are third most among the boards 20 volunteers. There are two years left in what he believes will be his final term, but before he steps aside to allow some “new energy” to join the board, he is intent, along with his fellow board members, on increasing the LHUF’s assets, expanding the number of scholarships offered to students, and intensifying alumni involvement.

“I believe that increasing the level of support we provide and the alumni we engage will help us recruit, as well as retain more students, allowing us to open up our excellent facilities to as many students as possible,” Berkebile said.

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Lock Haven University Alumni Association

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Durrwachter Alumni Conference Center
Lock Haven, PA 17745

(570) 484-2586

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