Hersha and Hasu Shah | Giving Back

Penn State’s hospital names its main entrance after philanthropists Hersha and Hasu Shah


Penn State Health Holy Spirit Medical Center’s main entrance now bears the name of Harrisburg residents Hersha and Hasu Shah, two prominent Penn State donors who have made significant contributions to the hospital. In acknowledgment of their extraordinary contribution to the hospital fund, the hospital’s main entrance has been renamed as the Hersha H. and Hasu P. Shah Main Entrance.

The Shahs have also established the Hersha H. and Hasu P. Shah endowed scholarship for women in the School of Business Administration at the Pennsylvania State University. Apart from these charitable contributions to Penn State, the philanthropists have long been involved in the community, giving generously to several causes.

Hersha and Hasu Shah

Hersha and Hasu Shah along with their sons Jay and Neil Shah and Penn State Health Holy Spirit Medical Center’s officials

Hoteliers Hasu and Hersha have always been passionate about serving others since they moved to the US. Before they had enough money to donate, they dedicated their time in the endeavour to give back. In 2010, they received the National United Way Tocqueville Society Award, the organisation’s highest recognition for humanitarian efforts across the United States. The Shahs have also supported humanitarian efforts in India, where they were born. They have funded one million cataract surgeries, apart from making extraordinary donations during natural calamities.

From India to the U.S.

In 1964, Hasu P. Shah, arrived in the USA from India to pursue his dream of obtaining a chemical engineering degree. He was merely 19-years-old then. As he was still learning English as a second language, he encountered many challenges in both the United States in general and at college, primarily with complicated engineering courses. Hasu’s father had financially supported his college tuition for the first year. The remaining educational fee was paid by Hasu himself as he took multiple part-time jobs. During the vacations, he worked two full-time jobs. He was such a bright student that he obtained his chemical engineering degree in just three years.

Hasu P. Shah graduated with a B.S. in chemical engineering in 1967 from Tennessee Technical University. After graduation he got an environmental engineer position with the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. At that time, environmental engineering was a new field of study, and there were no environmental engineers in practice yet. Hasu was promoted within this position every few years despite not being a veteran in this field.

Hersha and Hasu Shah

Hersha and Hasu Shah with the National Tocqueville Society Award

Journey of entrepreneurship and philanthropy

By 1984, Hasu had saved just enough money to purchase a 125-room hotel in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Hasu devoted all his free time, when he wasn’t working as an engineer, to fixing up the hotel property. His wife, Hersha, took care of the day-to-day functioning of the hotel.

This was the start of Hasu P. Shah’s career in the hospitality industry. He named the company after his wife Hersha. Within 15 years, the firm got listed as a public company with the American Stock Exchange (AMEX). The couple grew their hospitality business into a chain of more than 100 hotels across the United States under the banner of Hersha Hotels and Resorts. They later established other business ventures under the Hersha Group.

Aside from business, the Shahs’ true passion lies is philanthropy. They remained committed to giving back to local, national, and global communities.

In the wake of the Maharashtra earthquake in 1994, the Shahs not only provided financial assistance but also personally spent two weeks volunteering their time in Latur. They donated both time and money again following the 2001 earthquake in Northern Gujarat and the 2006 tsunami in Southern India. The Shahs not only raised funds to build and rebuild homes for the homeless but also visited the areas themselves to volunteer their services.

Their dedication to philanthropy and community service, both locally and globally, continues to inspire and impact many lives.

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