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In December, Penn State announced that Phi Sig Naren Gursahaney ‘83 had been selected by the Penn State Board of Trustees to receive the Distinguished Alumni Award, the University's highest honor presented to its alumni. In addition to this honor, Gursahaney was previously named an alumni fellow in recognition of his outstanding professional accomplishments, as well as a prolific donor to the university, establishing the The Naren and Judith Gursahaney Fund for Excellence in Mechanical Engineering along with his wife Judy. 

Gursahaney talked to us about this honor, how Phi Sig impacted his life, and why he gives back. Read on! 

Tell me about pledging Phi Sig. What led to that decision?  

I pledged Phi Sig in the Spring of 1980, during my freshman year. There were a couple guys from my high school who were brothers there and I just felt comfortable with the environment. Everyone was down to earth and no one took themselves too seriously. It was a pretty easy to fit in, no matter what your background was. It turned out to be a great decision, as I still have several friends who I am in touch with from those days. Needless to say, social media makes it a lot easier to keep in touch with people, but I do get to see some of the old gang in person. 

What are some of your favorite memories of the Phi Sig house? 

 I haven’t stepped into a fraternity house in a long time, so it’s tough to compare life at Phi Sig back then to how things are today. Of course, Homecoming was a big deal when I was there, and Phi Sig took its participation in Homecoming, including the parade, very seriously. I don’t know if it is still in existence, but Phi Sig also launched a Superstars competition while I was there.  

Most of my other memories were related to pledging, our pledge bolt (to the University of Maryland) and the many house parties and socials. And, of course, the end of term/year Hairy Gorilla parties. In order to protect the innocent (and not so innocent), I’ll refrain from sharing specific memories. 

Who do you keep in touch with today?  

I keep in touch with several brothers via social media. The people I see the most are Julie and Jeff Grubb ‘84, as my wife and I see them several times a year, either in Austin, Boca Raton, New Orleans or State College. Jeff and I worked together at Westinghouse after graduation, and we have remained good friends.  

I have also kept in touch with Fred DeCock ‘80, as we also worked for the same company (Tyco) for a little while, and he was nice enough to reach out the last time he was in Florida. He also helped me connect with his brother, Gary DeCock ‘83, at the B1G Championship a few years ago. Jay Succop ‘82 was one of the high school friends who attracted me to Phi Sig, and we continue to stay in touch. I have also had a few “chance run-ins” with some of my Phi Sig brothers … for example, John Schaub ‘82 and I met up for breakfast in Virginia after finding out via social media that we were in the same city, and Roy Kern ‘83 (a pledge brother) and I ran into each other at a charity event in Pittsburgh. 

Can you tell us about your life after graduation?  

Life has been a whirlwind since I graduated from Penn State. I started our working for Westinghouse Electric and worked for them for about four years (in Baltimore and Israel) before going back to grad school at Darden/UVA where I got my MBA. After that, I moved to Cleveland to work for Booz Allen, where I lived for four years. During that time, I met and married my wife, Judy. I then went to GE and over my 10-year career there, we moved all over the country/world (Connecticut, upstate New York, Wisconsin, and Japan twice) and had our two kids, Kayla and Phillip, along the way. I left GE to join Tyco in Princeton, NJ and we lived there for nine years. When Tyco decided to spin-off the business, I was leading at the time, ADT, I led the spin-off and we moved to Boca Raton, FL. I was the CEO of ADT until 2016, when we sold the company to private equity. I “retired” then, and now fill my time serving on three company boards. Fortunately, both of our kids live relatively close by in the West Palm Beach area. 

What kind of lasting impact has Phi Sig had on your life?  

Phi Sig was a big part of my Penn State experience, and hence played a big part in my life. My experience at Penn State not only provided me with the academic foundation that I have been able to build on, but it has also provided me with numerous lifelong friends, including some of my Phi Sig brothers. We all grew up together and had a number of bonding experiences that tie us together. I still consider Penn State “home” even though I live 1000 miles away. 

Tell me a little bit about your recent Distinguished Alumni Award. Why has giving back to Penn State and Phi Sig been important in your life?  

The Distinguished Alumni award is truly humbling when you think of the large population of incredibly accomplished Penn State alumni. While I am very proud of what I have accomplished since leaving Penn State, there is no question that in my case this is a team award, not an individual award.  

I have been blessed with incredible opportunities, great teams and great mentors throughout my career. But, most important, I have a great team at home with my wife, Judy, and our two children, Kayla and Phillip. They have made incredible sacrifices to allow me to achieve my professional goals.  

Since so many people help me in my career, I have a responsibility to pay it forward. This is why we give back to Penn State, so other students can have some of the same opportunities.  

We have been able to give back in a variety of ways: financially with scholarships, excellence funds and facilities; and with my time via my participation on advisory boards in the College of Engineering and as a volunteer on the current capital campaign.  

Penn State is not our only beneficiary, but with both me and our daughter, Kayla (IST ’16), they do receive a significant share of our annual donations. So, whether it is Penn State or some other cause, we can all make a difference in the lives of the next generation.