MONACA, Pa. — It was the early 1960s, and the Beaver County Commissioners were anxious to do something with the former tuberculosis sanatorium, which had been sitting empty for years. So the commissioners offered the property to Penn State, hoping to have it used as a Commonwealth campus. To sweeten the deal, in addition to the buildings and grounds, the commissioners promised $600,000 for renovations and construction.
But the budget for the Michael Baker Engineering and Sciences Building, the General Classroom Building, and the Library was something north of $2 million.
So inaugural Campus Executive Officer Joe Giusti went to work raising the other $1.4 million.
According to former faculty and longtime advisory board member Betty Sue Schaughency, the fundraising strategy was the stuff of legend and a bit of genius. Giusti pitched agency after agency, upping the stakes with each meeting.
If I can raise $200,000, will you match it?
If I can raise $400,000, will you match it?
If I can raise $800,000, will you match it?
Of course, if any rung on that ladder would have fallen, the entire plan would have imploded, but it worked, as the three buildings were dedicated in 1968. All three are still in use today.
Giusti died on Jan. 30 in Harrisburg. He was 81.
“We, literally and figuratively, would not have the campus we do today without the leadership of Joe Giusti,” said Beaver’s current chancellor, Jenifer Cushman. “We are indebted to him, and we honor his memory.”
Giusti, who earned both his master’s and doctorate degrees from Penn State, served as Beaver’s campus director from 1965 to 1979, overseeing 14 years of immense growth. The campus’ amphitheater, a well-known landmark that sits behind the pond at the main entrance, is named in his honor.
After leaving Penn State, Giusti served as Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne’s chancellor. He moved into the private sector in 1987, when he was named director of education programs and scholarships for global resource development at AMP Incorporated.
He retired in 1998.
In addition to his leadership in education, Giusti was known for his work in the community, having served on the board of numerous local and state organizations, including: The Medical Center, the Pennsylvania Association of Two-Year Colleges, the Beaver County Council of Higher Learning, and the Beaver Campus Advisory Board. He was an emeritus member of the advisory board at the time of his death.
Giusti is survived by his wife, Marie Mazza Giusti.
Funeral services will be held on Friday, Feb. 10, in Harrisburg.