Dick and Bebe Hayes bequest to benefit Child Study Center, scholarships

smiling husband and wife in Penn State garb
Penn State liberal arts alumnus Dick Hayes ’68 and his wife, Bebe, enjoyed attending the Penn State v. Indiana game held on October 2, 2021. Credit: Katy Heltman. All Rights Reserved.

By Susan Burlingame

Penn State pre-law alumnus Richard "Dick" Hayes and his wife, Young Mi "Bebe" Hayes, have committed $2.5 million through their future estate to support the Child Study Center at Penn State and to create a scholarship fund in the College of the Liberal Arts.

The Richard and Young Mi Hayes Child Study Center Director's Fund, created as a non-endowed fund in 2021, is slated to receive an additional $1.5 million from the couple’s estate. It provides Evan Pugh University Professor Karen Bierman, the current director of the Child Study Center, and future directors with discretionary funding for the center’s community outreach programs, undergraduate and graduate student training, and research — all of which are dedicated to promoting children’s development and well-being. The Child Study Center is housed in the college’s Department of Psychology.

The remaining $1 million of the Hayes’ future gift will create the Richard A. and Young Mi Hayes Scholarship in the College of the Liberal Arts. When the endowment is realized, its proceeds will be awarded to undergraduate and graduate students in the college who have achieved superior academic records or demonstrate great promise in achieving academic success.

“I have been consistently impressed by the compassion Dick and Bebe have for at-risk children and families, resulting in years of generous contributions to the Child Study Center,” said Clarence Lang, Susan Welch Dean of the College of the Liberal Arts. “Knowing that they have dedicated support from their future estate both to promoting the work of the Child Study Center and to providing access to a Penn State liberal arts education is extremely heartening. I am deeply grateful that the College of the Liberal Arts has such devoted benefactors as Dick and Bebe Hayes.”

Dick Hayes grew up near Buffalo, New York. His father, a first-generation college student, attended Penn State in the 1930s, “during the depths of the Great Depression,” said Hayes, and paid his way through college by delivering newspapers, shoveling snow and serving as a bellhop at a local hotel, among other jobs.

“It was my father’s courage and diligence and his own aspirations that changed the trajectory for our whole family, and ultimately for me,” Dick said.

Despite his father’s insistence that Dick explore other colleges, in addition to Penn State, to find his own unique college experience, Dick found in Penn State exactly what he was looking for — a pre-law major program, an active fraternity where he would meet lifelong friends, a tennis team and, of course, a great football tradition.

“When I was 10 years old, the first college football game I saw in person was Penn State against Syracuse, with [former Cleveland Browns running back] Jim Brown playing against [Baltimore Colts and Penn State great] Lenny Moore,” Dick said. “It wasn’t just about football, but ultimately Penn State was where I felt most comfortable — and obviously it all worked out.”

After graduating from Penn State in 1968, Dick continued his education at New York University School of Law, where he earned a master of laws degree and a juris doctorate. He then enjoyed a 35-year career as a tax attorney with major financial institutions including Arthur Young and Co., Citibank, Security Pacific Bank, First Interstate Bank, Wells Fargo and Allianz of America Corporation, from which he retired as senior vice president and general tax counsel.

“It was my father’s courage and diligence and his own aspirations that changed the trajectory for our whole family, and ultimately for me.”

Dick Hayes, retired senior vice president and general tax counsel, Allianz of America Corp.

Dick said he joined the Penn State Alumni Association right after graduation and made small gifts to the University for many years. When the former dean of the College of the Liberal Arts, the late Susan Welch, reengineered the college’s alumni relations function, however, Dick said he was impressed that a development officer would take the time to visit him on the West Coast. The visit turned into a multi-year commitment to the political science department for student internships, Dick said.

It wouldn’t be long before Dick — by this time married to Bebe — found yet another philanthropic calling. Having served as chair of a program for at-risk families while Bebe worked with young people at the Alameda Youth Corrections Center, Dick began to wonder what programs were in place for foster children and at-risk children at Penn State. He reached out to Welch, who ultimately introduced the couple to Bierman.

“We were so impressed with Karen, who came to us with about a dozen funding opportunities,” Dick said. “What caught Bebe’s eye was a socialization program for kids starting school or in their early years who were, for one reason or another, not fitting in or making friends. We made a commitment to fund the low-income families that year.”

Subsequent gifts to Child Study Center programs and research projects led to the creation of the annually funded Hayes Child Study Center Director’s Fund, which will become a permanent endowment through the Hayes’ estate.

“It’s in my nature to make my surroundings happy,” said Bebe, who grew up on Wando Island in South Korea. She holds two associate degrees in business and one in counseling and enjoyed a successful career in the beauty industry. “Children are our future. I just want to support the little kids who don’t have the chance or opportunity to grow up in a better environment. That is the seed of my heart.”

“Dick and Bebe Hayes are deeply committed to community engagement efforts designed to improve child and family well-being,” Bierman said. “Their support of the Child Study Center through the years has helped to extend outreach support to families, schools and communities, as well as provide outreach training opportunities for our students. We are deeply appreciative of their recent estate gift, which will create a source of enduring support for CSC outreach efforts and help translate foundational CSC research into practices, programs and policies that enhance the lives and wellbeing of vulnerable children, youth, and families.”

Supporting students and coming home

When asked why a portion of their estate was designated for scholarships, Dick referenced Penn State’s land-grant mission and its responsibility to be affordable and accessible.

“Buffalo was a blue-collar, working-class city with a lot of immigrants,” Dick said. “My [internships] were in factories, and a lot of my fraternity brothers were first-generation students from those same kinds of backgrounds. We wanted to make sure that students today and in the future would have access to the academic excellence and success of Penn State. The land-grant mission is alive and well. It’s about helping people improve their status in life.”

While living in California, the couple hosted events for Penn State alumni and welcomed Penn State visitors, but they often returned to Happy Valley for football games and meetings. In 2020, at Bebe’s suggestion, the couple left California and bought a home near State College.

“I’m not good at language skills, but I am good at reading people’s hearts,” Bebe said. “I have known Dick for over 15 years, and I know Penn State makes him the most happy. We are so glad that we moved here.”

Dick is a member of the College of the Liberal Arts Alumni Society Board and is active in the college’s mentor program. “I’ve been on a lot of committees and part of a lot of organizations, but nothing has been as rewarding as Penn State,” he said.

The Richard and Young Mi Hayes Child Study Center Director's Fund and the Richard A. and Young Mi Hayes Scholarship in the College of the Liberal Arts help to advance "A Greater Penn State for 21st Century Excellence," a focused campaign that seeks to elevate Penn State’s position as a leading public university in a world defined by rapid change and global connections. With support from devoted benefactors who believe in Penn State and its mission, “A Greater Penn State” seeks to fulfill the three key imperatives of a 21st-century public university: keeping the doors to higher education open to hardworking students regardless of financial well-being; creating 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 greaterpennstate.psu.edu.

People Mentioned in this Article

Karen L. Bierman