Bryjas endow Kreutzberger Early Career Professorship

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- James J. and Coral V. Bryja recently committed $334,000 to establish the Joseph Kreutzberger Early Career Professorship in the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences. With matching funds from the Penn State Faculty Endowment Challenge, the total endowment is worth $500,000.

Jim Bryja, a 1979 graduate of mining engineering at Penn State, has enjoyed a fulfilling and exciting career in the coal industry. Holding various positions with U.S. Steel at the onset of his career, he also served as president of Pennsylvania Service Corporation for RAG American Coal Holding Inc.; as senior vice present of operations for Foundation Coal Corp.; concluding his career as senior vice president of Northern Appalachia & Powder River Basin for Alpha Natural Resources. Bryja is also the 2012 recipient of the Robert Stefanko Distinguished Achievement Award in the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences.

Joseph Kreutzberger, better known to the Bryjas as Uncle Sonny, also committed his career to the mining industry. After serving in World War II, Kreutzberger returned to his roots in Cambria County, Pa., and went to work in the coal mines. Eventually, he was promoted to executive vice president of safety for the Pennsylvania Mines Corp., which was a subsidiary of Pennsylvania Power and Light.

“Other than my parents, Uncle Sonny was the single most important person in my development as a professional,” stated Jim Bryja. “He instilled in me a set of core values that I am proud to carry; the importance of safety in the workplace; a respect for employees and coworkers; the thirst for knowledge; the need for research and development; and one’s obligation to give back whenever and wherever possible.”

The Kreutzberger Early Career Professorship is intended to encourage and support young faculty in the John and Willie Leone Family Department of Energy and Mineral Engineering during the critical first 10 years of their academic career. The holder of this endowment can direct initial energies to the classroom, establishing a commitment to teaching. Support will be available for new areas of research and teaching laboratories and early recognition for outstanding accomplishments will be provided. In addition to recognizing current achievements, the holder will be designated the Joseph Kreutzberger Early Career Professor.

“A gift like this is truly altruistic because it nurtures a promising young faculty member in his/her early career development,” stated Larry Grayson, holder of the George H., Jr., and Anne B. Deike Chair in Mining Engineering.

“It is because of my Uncle Sonny and the education that I received at Penn State that I had the capacity and desire to create this Early Career Professorship,” said Jim Bryja. “As a result, my wife, Coral, and I decided to create this endowment in my uncle’s honor as a way to both give back to the University and to ‘pay it forward’ to future generations. It is our wish that recipients of this award pass along similar values to their students as I received from my uncle, and as Uncle Sonny did for me, set them on a path for future success and fulfillment.”

“Private giving such as this ensures that the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences remains home for those researchers and educators who can best prepare our students for careers in the earth, energy and mineral sciences,” said Bill Easterling, dean. “Our faculty are among the world’s top researchers and scholars, but they are also educators who devote themselves to building an academic community in which every student can flourish.”

The Penn State Faculty Endowment Challenge offers donors an opportunity to leverage a 1:2 match from the University for gifts creating new Early Career Professorships in any of Penn State’s academic units. Such endowments typically require a minimum commitment of $500,000, but through the Faculty Endowment Challenge, donors may establish new Early Career Professorships for any of the University’s colleges or campuses with a commitment of $334,000. The University will commit the remaining one-third of the necessary funds, approximately $166,000, from unrestricted endowment resources.

Faculty support is a top priority of For the Future: The Campaign for Penn State Students. This University-wide effort is directed toward a shared vision of Penn State as the most comprehensive, student-centered research university in America. The University is engaging Penn State's alumni and friends as partners in achieving six key objectives: ensuring student access and opportunity, enhancing honors education, enriching the student experience, building faculty strength and capacity, fostering discovery and creativity, and sustaining the University's tradition of quality. The campaign's top priority is keeping a Penn State degree affordable for students and families. The For the Future campaign is the most ambitious effort of its kind in Penn State's history, with the goal of securing $2 billion by 2014.

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Last Updated March 18, 2013