Jason and Julie Borrelli honored as Penn State’s Philanthropists of the Year

Jason and Julie Borrelli

Penn State has named alumni Jason and Julie Borrelli as its 2024 Philanthropists of the Year.

Credit: Penn State

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Penn State has named alumni Jason and Julie Borrelli as its 2024 Philanthropists of the Year. The award recognizes individuals, couples or families who have demonstrated exceptional generosity in the promotion and support of the University.

In 2021, the couple’s $5 million commitment named the Jason and Julie Borrelli Institute for Real Estate Studies, building upon their past support for real estate education and helping to re-establish real estate as a major in the Penn State Smeal College of Business. Previously, they endowed the Jason and Julie Borrelli Faculty Chair in Real Estate in 2019 with the goal of helping Smeal attract and retain faculty that contribute to the reputation and prestige of the program.

“Jason and Julie have distinguished themselves in their service to the Smeal College of Business, to the real estate industry and to our University,” said Penn State President Neeli Bendapudi. “They share a deep understanding of the real estate industry’s impact on every sector of our economy and the tremendous opportunities a career in real estate can offer our students. Their philanthropy has enhanced our education of the next generation of real estate industry leaders, advanced our research in the field and supported the success of our students. I am also deeply grateful they are continuing their service to Penn State as members of our Campaign Leadership Council. Their example is an inspiration across the Penn State community, and I am honored to recognize them as Philanthropists of the Year.”

The award comes as the Borrellis mark 30 years since their 1994 graduations from Penn State — Jason with a degree in aerospace engineering from the College of Engineering and Julie as a hotel, restaurant and institutional management major in the College of Health and Human Development. After brief careers with Allied Signal and Marriott, they joined National Properties Inc., a real-estate investment, property management, and development business co-founded by Jeff King, Julie’s father and a 1967 Penn State graduate with a degree in marketing. 

In 2006, Jason earned an MBA from Penn State Great Valley, with a focus in entrepreneurship and entrepreneurial studies. Today he is senior principal for operations of EQT Exeter, a real estate investment manager. After leaving National Properties, Julie Borrelli turned her attention to volunteerism. The couple has two children — Drew, a current Smeal student studying marketing, and Sophie, a biology/pre-med student at the University of Florida. Julie has turned her attention to different philanthropic pursuits: In addition to her involvement at Penn State, she has recently been named the chairperson of the University of Pennsylvania’s Abramson Cancer Center Director’s Leadership Council, and she is an advocate for awareness and research related to Lynch Syndrome, a genetic predisposition to several cancers. Jason and Julie both spend time and resources supporting The TALK School, a center for the education of children with autism and speech/language disorders.

The Borrellis’ support for Smeal, which the couple said proudly follows in the footsteps of Julie’s parents, Jeff and Cindy King, is empowering the college to expand programs sponsored by the institute that help students connect and engage with the real estate industry, such as Real Estate Boot Camp or lecture series that invite leading real estate professionals to discuss current issues facing the field. Their endowment also promotes and expands student research opportunities, provides resources for experiential learning opportunities and allows for an enhanced career and internship placement program. 

“I am continually amazed by the Borrellis’ generosity, by their passion for real estate education and by their commitment to our students and faculty,” said Charles H. Whiteman, John and Karen Arnold Dean of the Smeal College of Business. “A named institute is truly transforming our real estate program and ensuring we remain a global leader in the field, allowing us to recruit and retain the best faculty and attract even more students interested in careers in the real estate industry.”

The Borrellis’ philanthropy and Jason’s leadership as a member of Smeal Board of Visitors and as first the vice chair and then chair of the Penn State Real Estate Advisory Board were instrumental in reinstating real estate as a stand-alone major for the Smeal College of Business in 2022.

“Real estate touches so many different aspects of business, and we think it is important for students to be exposed to it,” said Julie. “We’re excited to see the stand-alone major come to fruition. Knowing this is something that started so long ago, that my dad had his hands in, and now Jason and I helped carry it across the finish line is so exciting.”

In addition to their gifts to the real estate program, the couple has endowed the Jason and Julie Borrelli Trustee Scholarship and the Borrelli Family Open Doors Scholarship in the Penn State Smeal College of Business, the Jason and Julie Borrelli Open Doors Scholarship in the College of Engineering, the Jason and Julie Borrelli UPUA Leader Scholarship, and the Borrelli Educational Equity Scholarship. The Borrellis are now serving on the University-wide Campaign Leadership Council, helping Penn State to prepare for its next major fundraising effort and encouraging other Penn Staters to join them in supporting the institution.

“Giving to Penn State and Smeal has been deeply rewarding for us, and we cherish being able to make a difference at the institution that brought us together and helped to shape our lives,” said Jason. “We are so honored to be recognized as Penn State’s Philanthropists of the Year, but the award is most meaningful to us as an opportunity to say to other Penn Staters, ‘You can make a difference here, too.’”

Donors like Jason and Julie Borrelli advance the University’s historic land-grant mission to serve and lead. Through philanthropy, alumni and friends are helping students to join the Penn State family and prepare for lifelong success; driving research, outreach and economic development that grow our shared strength and readiness for the future; and increasing the University’s impact for families, patients, and communities across the commonwealth and around the world. Learn more by visiting raise.psu.edu.