Couple’s donation creates public administration graduate scholarship


MIDDLETOWN, Pa.Nelson Rimensnyder, retired research director of the US House Committee on the District of Columbia and current director of the New Columbia Archives, and his wife, Lisa Nickerson, pledged $312,500 to establish the Rimensnyder Graduate Scholarship for Excellence in Public Administration at Penn State Harrisburg. The couple, who reside in Washington, DC, share a legacy of experience in the public sector, both as federal employees and as civic activists.

Housed at the Penn State Harrisburg School of Public Affairs, the scholarship will support full-time or part-time graduate students who are enrolled or planning to enroll in the Master of Public Administration (MPA) program or the Doctor of Administration program public. The scholarship was first awarded in Spring 2021. The purpose of the fund is to benefit and help support students who have demonstrated academic excellence and a strong commitment to a career in public service.

“The future success and happiness of our society depends on the quality of leadership, expertise and dedication to the public welfare of our government employees at all levels,” Rimensnyder and Nickerson said in a statement. “We hope this scholarship can attract and help produce outstanding candidates interested in careers dedicated to providing such services.”

“The generosity demonstrated by Nelson Rimensnyder and Lisa Nickerson in their donation to support higher education at the School of Public Affairs is overwhelming, and my colleagues and I are extremely grateful,” said Marvin Overby, Director of the School of Public Affairs. public affairs. “Generations of students in our MPA and PhD programs will benefit from Rimensnyder scholarships as they complete their studies and prepare for careers in public service and leadership.”

Rimensnyder, who graduated from Penn State in 1969 with a bachelor’s degree in liberal arts and in 1970 with a master’s degree in public administration, credited a fellowship with the university’s former Institute of Public Administration as inspiring him to support fundraising. annual fund at Penn State, including the Mowitz Fund, named after the institute’s director, Robert Mowitz.

“From the beginning (of the fellowship), it was clear to me that the institute and its staff, under the leadership of Robert Mowitz, were committed to nurturing, motivating, inspiring and training individuals to perform to the standards highest careers in government and public service,” Rimensnyder said. “To this day, I am grateful for the outstanding academic preparation that contributed so much to my subsequent success working for the legislative branch of the U.S. government in Washington, D.C. ”

Rimensnyder said he was pleased to hear that Mowitz’s goals and ideals continue through the Penn State Harrisburg School of Public Affairs. “I think it was a fundamentally wise decision to move this program to Harrisburg, to give students more opportunities to explore and study government operations at the state level and in a variety of local jurisdictions” , did he declare.

Rimensnyder is an expert on the history of Washington, DC, and its government. After graduating from MPA, he moved to town. There he met Nickerson, another MPA graduate with her degree from George Washington University. He served for several years as an analyst in the Congressional Research Service of the Library of Congress, where he worked closely with the House Committee on the District of Columbia as it developed legislation on the autonomy for the residents of the district that finally ended 100 years of direct rule. by Congress. After the passage of this landmark law, he was hired as the committee’s research director. In addition to serving as the committee’s representative on the National Capitol Planning Commission, Rimensnyder has been deeply involved in studying the context and history of a wide variety of political and legislative issues associated with district governance. of Columbia. He retired in 1992.

Throughout his career, he has been engaged in compiling and cataloging the only comprehensive records that exist on the history of relations between the District of Columbia and the federal government. When the House DC Committee was abolished, he created, with his wife, a documentary collection, The New Columbia Archives. The archive includes documents and other records related to the 200-year struggle of DC residents for civil rights and electoral representation in Congress, as well as the ongoing public debate about the political and financial affairs of the District of Columbia.

Nickerson spent 10 years as a federal government analyst and speechwriter at the Library of Congress, writing remarks for members of Congress. She left the Congressional Research Service in 1978 to become a full-time parent and volunteer PTA and Cub Scout leader for the couple’s three children. In 1994, she returned to full-time employment with the federal government as the Bureau Chief of the US Capitol Police Bomb Squad. There, she was able to bring her training in planning and budgeting, logistics, inventory, and various aspects of human resources and personnel management to good use. She retired in 2010.

“Fifty years of living on Capitol Hill have made it clear to us that the quality of public service at the federal government level impacts the well-being of every citizen in this country,” the couple said. “It is imperative to find, groom and train some of the best and brightest people to take on this job and dedicate themselves to maintaining the highest standards in their professional service. During our careers, we have seen and worked with many examples of outstanding public servants. We hope that the scholarship program will help ensure that the government can continue to attract the best to its service.

This gift will advance “A Greater Penn State for 21st Century Excellence,” a targeted campaign that aims to elevate Penn State’s position as a leading public university in a world defined by rapid change and global connections. With the support of alumni and friends, “A Greater Penn State” seeks to fulfill the three key imperatives of a 21st century public university: keeping the doors of higher education open to students who work hard, whatever regardless of their financial well-being; create transformative experiences that go beyond the classroom; and impacting the world by serving communities and fueling discovery, innovation and entrepreneurship. To learn more about “A Greater Penn State for 21st Century Excellence,” visit


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