Penn State alumnus endows Mary Willard Trustee Scholarship

University Park, Pa. — Penn State alumnus Robert W. “Bob” Adams and his wife, Ruby, have created the Mary Willard Trustee Scholarship to assist undergraduates in the Eberly College of Science, with first preference given to forensic science majors.

Adams graduated from the University in 1952 with a bachelor’s degree in chemistry. He recalled that scholarship and generous financial support from friend and benefactor Richard Snively, a 1916 Penn State alumnus in mechanical engineering, allowed him to attend without incurring any debt to his family.

It was while attending Penn State that Adams found a mentor and advisor in Professor of Chemistry Mary Willard.

“I liked Dr. Willard as a teacher and as a person,” said Adams. “She always made time for you, giving you her complete attention. Dr. Willard was so much more than just a professor.”

As a renowned forensic scientist, Willard was often called upon as an expert witness by the Pennsylvania State Police and other agencies. On occasion she involved her students in real-life criminal investigations when they assisted with ballistics comparisons and other related testing.

“I enjoyed the real-life teaching style of Dr. Willard, along with her energy and enthusiasm,” Adams said.

When it was time to graduate, Willard helped Adams to evaluate and choose among job prospects. “I eventually chose Sun Oil Research as my first career, where I stayed for eight years,” he said.

Adams said he created the Trustee Scholarship “to honor Dr. Willard, her passion and her forensic science expertise. Ruby and I, in this stage of our lives, also wanted to leave something behind to help students. Funding this endowment has been very gratifying to us.”

In 1992, Adams retired from Amoco Chemical Co., after 40 years in the chemical industry. With Amoco, he had served as chief chemist at three different manufacturing facilities. The couple reside in Alvin, Tex., where they are volunteers in numerous local organizations. Bob has served on the Brazoria County Library Board for eight years, currently as president.

Trustee Matching Scholarships require a minimum endowed gift of $50,000. The program, created in 2002 by the Board of Trustees, aims to ensure that a Penn State education is accessible to qualified students, regardless of their financial means. Under the program, the University matches 5 percent of the principal of each gift annually and combines those funds with income from the endowment to effectively double the financial impact of the scholarship.

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Last Updated April 28, 2009