MONACA, Pa. — In her time as Penn State Beaver’s volleyball coach, Donna Kuga earned five conference coach of the year awards.
Now, just two months after her death, the Penn State University Athletic Conference will add one last accolade to her collection: The Robert J. Scannell Award.
The prestigious award is named for the former vice president and dean of the Commonwealth Education System, who was largely responsible for establishing athletic programs at Penn State campuses, and is presented to an administrator, faculty, staff member or coach who has served the PSUAC with distinction.
Kuga certainly fit the criteria.
She earned her bachelor’s degree from Penn State, where she was a scholar-athlete, having played on the Beaver women’s basketball team.
After earning advanced degrees in education, Kuga soon returned to the Beaver campus as a professor, coach and, eventually, athletic director. Though she served stints as the women’s basketball and softball coach, her specialty was volleyball, for which she earned Penn State Commonwealth Campus Athletic Conference Coach of the Year four times and Western Pennsylvania Collegiate Conference Coach of the year once.
Kuga became acting director of academic affairs (DAA) at Beaver in 1997. A year later, she was hired full time to the position. She remained as DAA until 2014 when she agreed to lead the campus through an extended chancellor search after the late Gary Keefer’s retirement.
Though no longer an employee of the athletic department, she continued to serve as a friend and avid supporter. In fact, it was Beaver’s current athletic director and softball coach, Andy Kirschner, and assistant athletic director and volleyball coach BJ Bertges who nominated Kuga for the Scannell Award.
In addition to her athletic accolades, Kuga received many academic distinctions over her 40-year career, including the All University Excellence in Advising Award from the Penn State Undergraduate Student Government Association, the Outstanding Academic Adviser from Penn State Beaver SGA, and the Community Action Grant from the American Association of University Women Educational Foundation.
Kuga’s sister will accept the Scannell Award during a ceremony on May 23 at the Nittany Lion Inn.