Bear2Bear Impact Award for Leadership and Service

John E.F. “Jef” Corson P’04, H’12

John E.F. “Jef” Corson P'04 John E.F. “Jef” Corson P'04

In 1983, when then Ursinus College president, Dick Richter, approached Jef Corson to follow in the footsteps of his father, Philip Corson (for whom the college administrative building is named), and join the Ursinus Board of Trustees, it took a little convincing. Jef knew from his father’s experience that Ursinus needed the support: the college was committed to affordable access for first generation and working-class students and depended on fundraising. What caused him to hesitate was the question Jef would always ask himself: Am I the right person to make a difference?

Corson was 43 at the time, and relatively early in a business career which, at that point, included an executive vice president role at G. and W.H. Corson, Inc., and serving as principal at the firm Abbott and Cobb, a large producer of vegetable seeds in North America. He told President Richter that he was too young and didn’t have enough influence to have an impact on behalf of the college. Everyone else on the board was older and more connected. Richter’s response was, “That’s why we need you.” Corson was convinced and joined the trustees.

Jef Corson’s tenure on the board lasted nearly four transformative decades. He served at times as secretary, treasurer, vice chair, and chair, and was even tapped as the college’s interim president in 2010. As Richter had hoped, Corson helped move the board forward and change with the times. Trustee membership began to include more diverse backgrounds and perspectives. Corson was also instrumental in establishing several new campus buildings. Through the Corson Foundation, Jef committed $1 million toward the building of the Innovation and Discovery Center, a state-of-the-art hub for science and technology, which continues to shape today’s Ursinus experience and develop future innovators.

Ursinus is not the only organization for which Corson was the right person to make a difference. Other important groups to which he has dedicated his time and resources include: the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) (board member), the Montgomery Hospital (board chair), the Einstein Healthcare Network (board member), and the Einstein Medical Center Montgomery (EMCM) (board vice-chair). He has also been involved with the Valley Forge Council of the Boy Scouts of America, the Montgomery County Community College Foundation, the Superior Tube Scholarship Foundation, and the Central Montgomery County Mental Health Administration. A common thread among Corson’s service is his commitment to assisting in the care and development of young people.

Although he did not attend Ursinus as an undergraduate student, Corson has long embodied and championed its spirit and values. He is also a proud UC parent—his son, Flynn Corson, graduated from the college in 2004 and is now a trustee. Jef, himself, received an honorary degree from the college in 2012, but he has no interest in accolades. With an open heart, a clear mind, and a deep sense of gratitude, Corson is laser focused on making a difference in peoples’ lives. For him, dedicating his time and resources to helping others is just what success looks like. As he succinctly puts it, “It’d be a shame to nestle into the grave without ever having done anything worthwhile.”

At 83, Jef Corson is currently the president of both the Corson Investment Company and the Corson Foundation and remains an active and enthusiastic volunteer for a number of organizations in the community. He currently lives in Plymouth Meeting with his wife Carol. They have six children and 11 grandchildren.

For his years of service to Ursinus College and to young people all over this region, Corson is being presented with the 2024 Bear2Bear Impact Award for Leadership and Service.

Previous Honorees

Donald E. Parlee ’55 and Joan B. Parlee ’57

Michael T. Piotrowicz ’78, P’05

Nancy Opalack ’71

Joseph DeSimone ’86 P’12