Honors College staff unveils new student award at Founders Day event

Last spring, a group of Schreyer Honors College employees were asked to develop a fundraising initiative that would represent the staff contribution toward Penn State's new fundraising campaign, "For the Future: The Campaign for Penn State Students."

Not surprisingly, the idea that quickly took shape was what students would call a "no brainer."

What the group opted to establish was a Scholar Involvement Award to be given annually to a Schreyer Scholar in recognition and appreciation of exemplary service in support of the college's mission and initiatives. In addition to being funded through contributions and commitments made by the Schreyer staff, a committee would solicit nominations from the staff and select a recipient to be approved by the Dean.

In April, when Penn State launched the public phase of the "For the Future" campaign, $21,674 in gifts and pledges had been committed by Schreyer staff members toward the award. The campaign includes a $100 million goal for "Enhancing Honors Education," with dollars being raised to support scholarships, programs and academic enrichment initiatives for Schreyer Scholars.

"As staff, what drives us is our scholars," said Lynne O'Cain, the administrative assistant to the college's associate dean and a member of the staff campaign committee that established the award. "That's why creating this award made sense. The award gives us an opportunity to give back to something we all believe in -- our scholars. We feel a sense of pride when we hear about their accomplishments both in and out of the classroom. We want to recognize not only their academic success but their commitment to service as well."

On Sept. 7, during the college's annual Founders Day celebration held in recognition of its 1997 establishment through the historic gift made by college founders William A. and Joan Schreyer, the first recipient of the Scholar Involvement Award was announced. Thomas A. Novack, a senior Schreyer Scholar majoring in kinesiology in the College of Health and Human Development and biology in the Eberly College of Science, was selected by a staff committee for the inaugural award.

In quoting from several of the nominations received on Tom's behalf, Schreyer Honors College Dean Christian M. M. Brady said during Tuesday's award announcement, "(Tom) exemplifies the standards we set for Schreyer Scholars. He's talented and bright, but humble as he quietly gets things done."

Tom's contributions to the Schreyer Honors College include being a member of the college's Scholar Advancement Team, a group that serves as student representatives at various college functions, and as a mentor for SHO TIME, the college's orientation program for incoming students. Tom is a graduate of State College Area High School.

In addition to a plaque, Tom received a $1,000 monetary award.

Dean Brady said that the staff contributions in creating this award represent the high level of commitment those employed in the college have in supporting student endeavors.

"It is humbling to see how the staff embraced this opportunity to establish an award that shows how appreciative they are of our Scholars' support of our programs and initiatives," Brady said. "The staff recognizes that there are a multitude of ways for Scholars to be involved on this campus. That some of our Scholars choose to volunteer their time, talent and energy toward extending and enhancing the college's position within the University and beyond is much appreciated. This is a way to show that appreciation in a most tangible way."

For more information about the Schreyer Honors College or to see pictures of this year's Founders Day celebration, visit http://shc.psu.edu/ online.

Last Updated January 10, 2014