“We bleed green,” says Patti Biederman ’76, ’07P. Decades of involvement have given Patti and husband, Scott ’75, ’07P, an unparalleled view of Plymouth State’s progress and potential.
The demands of their eponymous restaurant, an iconic local institution, have been complemented by abiding alumni commitment. The Biedermans’ combined list of Plymouth State accolades includes Distinguished Alumni Service and James J. Hogan Memorial awards, election to the Business Department Hall of Fame, co-founding the Women’s Leadership Circle, and memberships on the President’s Council and the Panther Business Club Alumni Chapter, along with leadership of numerous committees and task forces.
“I always said to my students who worked at Biederman’s Deli, at the end of the day it doesn’t matter whether we’re producing high-end computer chips in a factory, sandwiches in a restaurant, or art students in your classroom,” says Patti. “You’ve got to go from A to B to C and you’ve got to be passionate about it.”
The Biedermans hail President Birx’s Integrated Clusters vision as the path forward for higher ed, and hands-on learning resonates strongly with Patti. “I was a physical education major and we had to go out and do observations and student teaching,” she says. “In my mind, I was able to experience the Cluster model. It makes so much sense because when you’re in your first job, you could be the social media person and still need to know how to run a budget and do marketing. You’re the jack of all trades.”
The importance of giving back has grown vastly. “The financial costs, particularly for first-generation students, have changed dramatically,” says Scott. “I don’t think most alumni realize that well over 40 percent of current PSU students are the first in their family to go to college.
“From a cultural standpoint, the concept of giving back to Plymouth State is relatively new in our 150-year history,” he adds. “It was not in the MO of students at my time.”
“I think the word ‘scholarship’ is foreign to some alumni,” agrees Patti. “There are so many students today who need a bit of help. Things have changed so much since Scott and I went to Plymouth State. A lot of students have potential but without the help of scholarships they won’t be able to get a college education. That’s why we as alums need to step up.”
The couple’s donor support has been unwavering, but their priorities have evolved. Their longstanding focus on “brick and mortar” has come to fruition in projects like ALLWell North, and more recently, the new Morgridge Strength & Performance Lab, which will be formally dedicated on September 1. While recognizing that facilities will still require donor funding, the Biedermans’ now aim their philanthropy more directly at deserving students.
“We’re raising future leaders because we’re teaching them how to think critically across disciplines,” says Patti. “They’re not stuck in little silos. They’ll be our leaders when we’re retired and that’s why we all need to give back.”