Mercersburg Academy Alumna Deborah J. Simon Donates Nearly $107 Million

   Mercersburg Academy Alumna Deborah J. Simon Donates Nearly $107 Million

Includes second-largest gift ever to a U.S. independent school

PR Newswire

MERCERSBURG, Pa., Oct. 10, 2013

MERCERSBURG, Pa., Oct. 10, 2013 /PRNewswire/ --In gratitude to an institution
that helped shape her life at a pivotal time, alumna Deborah J. Simon of
Indianapolis, IN, and the Deborah Joy Simon Foundation have pledged to make a
$100 million gift to Mercersburg Academy, the largest gift the school has ever
received, and the second largest single gift ever made to an independent
school in the United States. A member of the Mercersburg Academy Board of
Regents, Ms. Simon was a student at the college-preparatory school from 1972
to 1974. When combined with recent campaign gifts that include support for a
new student center, Ms. Simon and her foundation have pledged total campaign
gift amounts of $106,955,000.

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The Simon donation is the lead gift in the school's "Daring to Lead" estimated
$300 million capital campaign, and includes a matching component to encourage
additional campaign contributions. In addition to funding an endowment for
financial aid, the campaign will also support faculty development, enhanced
facilities and innovative programming at the school.

"We are thrilled beyond words for this transformational gift and the
confidence that Deborah and her foundation have placed in us," said Douglas
Hale, head of school. "Because of their vision and generosity, young men and
women from all walks of life will have access to an extraordinary education
that will allow them to realize their potential."

"As a member of the board, I've had the opportunity to work closely with Doug
Hale for a number of years, and am inspired by his vision for Mercersburg as a
leader in independent school education," said Ms. Simon, who serves as a vice
president of the Board of Regents. "This is a place where faculty are
encouraged to experiment with new ideas and technologies to engage students
more fully in their education."

Located on 300 acres of picturesque landscape in South Central Pennsylvania,
Mercersburg Academy provides secondary education to 374 boarding students and
61 day students in grades 9–12. At present, students come from 26 states and
represent 40 countries, with just over half from the mid-Atlantic, and 23
percent international students.

The Simon gift will enable Mercersburg to realize one of its most important
goals: to ensure that a Mercersburg education is affordable to every student
the school admits. Mercersburg is committed to enrolling a student body that
is not only ethnically and geographically diverse, but reflects the
socioeconomic continuum. Currently, 32 percent of students receive need-based
financial aid, and 49 percent receive a combination of merit and need-based
scholarships toward tuition.

"Deborah's gift has shined a light on the Mercersburg tradition of a rigorous
education and an egalitarian, student-centered culture as a model for
secondary education across the country," Hale said. "We are hoping her
generosity inspires others to be part of the philanthropic tradition in
secondary education, because an investment in our youth at adolescence is a
powerful force for good."

"Mercersburg aspires to provide national leadership in experiential learning
that weaves technology into the classroom," said Hale. For example, on the
heels of a providing iPads for all students, in Summer 2012, a number of
Mercersburg faculty wrote, designed, and implemented their own e-textbooks for
a variety of subjects including algebra, American studies, A.P. Latin, and
writing music, aligning them with lessons and weaving interactive experiences
throughout the curriculum.

Ms. Simon is a daughter of the late Bess Meshulam Simon and the late Melvin
Simon. In 1960, her fatherfounded Melvin Simon & Associates in Indianapolis,
Indiana, a company that he and her brother David grew to become Simon Property
Group, Inc. (NYSE:SPG), the largest real estate investment trust in the
world. Active in supporting youth education, Ms. Simon is chair of the Board
of Directors of the Simon Youth Foundation (, a public charity
that operates in 13 states to provide financial and academic support to high
school students at risk of dropping out of school. The Deborah Joy Simon
Foundation is a private foundation that makes grants for religious,
charitable, scientific, literary and educational purposes.

"Many people consider preparatory schools to be places that shape students to
a certain mold. But Mercersburg was, and continues to be, a place where every
student can be himself or herself," said Ms. Simon. "Mercersburg remains
dedicated to bringing out the best in what each student has to offer. It's
freeing and empowering as a teenager to be accepted for your uniqueness, and
to grow up with friends from different cultures and backgrounds."

During her career at Mercersburg, Ms. Simon was actively involved in Stony
Batter Players, the student theatre organization founded in 1899, in which
Academy Award-winner Jimmy Stewart '28 was a participant. In 2006, she
contributed $3 million to build a 600-seat, state-of-the-art proscenium
theatre within the school's Burgin Center for the Arts. This fall, Mercersburg
also celebrates the dedication of the newly renovated Simon Student Center at
Ford Hall, which will be the nerve center for the school's Residential Life
Program. A $5 million gift from Ms. Simon helped develop this project, part of
the current Daring to Lead campaign. Over the years and including the current
pledge, Ms. Simon and her foundation have given a total of $111,208,830 to

Previous gifts of this caliber to independent schools include former
kindergarten teacher Barbara Dodd Anderson's $128 million gift to the George
School in 2007 and a $100 million gift by Walter Annenberg to the Peddie
School in 1993. Mercersburg's previous largest contribution was a $35 million
gift by alumnus and former President of the Board of Regents H.F. "Gerry"
Lenfest '49 in 2000. His earlier gift for the school's Centennial Campaign
(1990-1998) supported the construction of Lenfest Hall, the Academy's 45,000
volume library.

Other prominent Mercersburg Academy alumni include Richard "Dick" Thornburgh
'50, former U.S. attorney general and governor of Pennsylvania; Burton Richter
'48, Nobel Laureate in Physics; Robert Weis '37, former Chairman, Weis
Markets; Richard Cass '64, president, Baltimore Ravens; Betsy Mitchell '83,
Olympic gold medalist in swimming; and Academy Award-winner Benicio Del Toro

About Mercersburg Academy
Founded in 1893 in the heart of south central Pennsylvania, Mercersburg
Academy is an independent, coed college-preparatory school offering a rigorous
academic program to 435 boarding and day students who represent 26 American
states and 40 nations. The school prepares young men and women in grades 9–12
and post-graduate from diverse backgrounds for college and life in a global
community. Mercersburg alumni include Rhodes scholars, Olympians,
Oscar-winners, and a Nobel laureate. For more information, please visit

SOURCE Mercersburg Academy

Contact: Denise Portner, Senior Vice President, SteegeThomson Communications,
267-670-7010,; or Wallace Whitworth, Director,
Marketing and Communications, Mercersburg Academy, 717-328-6353,
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