May was a monumental month for Millersville University. On May 6, 2020, the University announced the first named college in its 165- year history, and three days later, 93 students graduated from the Lombardo College of Business.
Dr. Samuel Lombardo and his wife Dena have been supporters of Millersville for many years. Their first major gift to MU was in 2015, when they gave $1.2 million to make the Lombardo Welcome Center a reality. During a virtual celebration on May 6, they announced a $3 million gift and the newest college at Millersville was named in their honor—the Lombardo College of Business. With other gifts throughout the years, it brings their total giving to Millersville to $5 million.
“During these extraordinary times in which we find ourselves, we thought it was important to step forward to ensure student success,” explained Sam Lombardo. “My companies have been very successful, and we are financially blessed. I like giving back and now, more than ever, seems to be the appropriate time.”
“This gift will change the lives of students at Millersville University and impact the local, regional and national business landscape,” said Dr. Daniel A. Wubah, president of Millersville University. “A gift of this magnitude not only ensures the lasting legacy of the Lombardo name, but it also confirms their commitment to the success of generations to come. The Lombardos’ transformative gift will establish endowments in perpetuity to ensure that the top-notch Millersville University education remains affordable to academically qualified students, who may otherwise not have the opportunity to pursue higher education.
“Dr. and Mrs. Lombardo could have easily decided to wait out the storm before confirming this transformative gift,” Dr. Wubah continued. “They could have said, ‘let’s wait and see how things shake out.’ However, my dear friends, Sam and Dena prefer to walk the walk rather than talk the talk. To them, leadership does not wait but rather acts! Their timing could not be better because of the significant impact that this gift will have in the preparation of the skilled workforce needed to catalyze our recovery from the current economic downturn. This impact will be felt in Lancaster County, South Central Pennsylvania and the entire Commonwealth.”
“I am humbled by this honor,” said Sam Lombardo. “I’ve been blessed to achieve success because of the great people around me. There are lots of entrepreneurial ideas out there, but unless you have a team to achieve it, the ideas are left on the garage floor. Millersville’s College of Business will offer a unique partnership of the best academics and of the private sector to bring in talented entrepreneurs and businesspeople to share in their experiences. I’ve emphasized with Dr. Wubah the need to offer mentoring and internships. It’s important to mentor and help young people from college to career path.”
Lombardo is a well-known insurance entrepreneur and the chairman and CEO of The Benecon Group, which specializes in developing innovative and effective employee benefit solutions. His companies gained national recognition when they were listed four different times by Inc. Magazine as one of the “500 Fastest Growing Companies in America.”
“I’m a businessperson who started with nothing,” said Lombardo. “I started my company from scratch, built it into a boutique and grew it into an enterprise. To be able to help business students realize their dreams is very important to me.”
While plans for an on-campus event were postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic, there was a virtual announcement for this gift. Mike Warfel ‘84, chairman of MU’s Council of Trustees, was among those giving remarks.
“The Lombardo College of Business will engage and serve students, alumni, area employers and all community members. It will enhance the rich fabric of our business community and further innovation throughout the region. Additionally, with named prominence, the Lombardo College of Business will further assist students with career placement and increase alumni engagement,” said Warfel.
“I am so proud of Sam and his successes over the years,” said Dena Lombardo during the virtual announcement. “Here we are today, and to receive this recognition from Dr. Wubah and Millersville is a tremendous honor. Thank you all for sharing in this news. Stay safe.” The Lombardo College of Business offers a bachelor’s in business administration with options in accounting and finance, or marketing and management. The gift will be used where it’s needed most: for student scholarships, faculty development, equipment and internships.
“I would like to thank Dr. and Mrs. Lombardo for providing Marauders like myself, and other students, with the tools we need to succeed,” said business major Lydia Shaloka.
The Lombardos have been very generous with other programs involving children and education in the region, giving to the Lancaster Cleft Palate Clinic, Schreiber Pediatrics, the Clinic for Special Children, Franklin & Marshall College and the United Disabilities and Veterans Honor Park.