Local businessman endows $1M professorship in materials science and engineering

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Donald W. Hamer, a 1968 Penn State alumnus, and his wife, Marie Bednar, recently created an endowed professorship in Penn State’s Department of Materials Science and Engineering in the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences. Their commitment of $1 million will establish the Hamer Professorship in Materials Science and Engineering. Hamer is the chairman and founder of State of the Art Inc., in State College, Pa., a leading supplier of film resistive components to the biomedical, communications, aerospace and defense industries. 

As passionate as Hamer is about designing and creating highly technical products for customers all over the world, he is just as eager to give back. As a known philanthropist to the Mount Nittany Medical Center, the Centre County United Way and multiple areas at Penn State including the The Hamer Center for Community Design in the Landscape Architecture Department of the College of Arts and Architecture; Palmer Museum of Art; Pattee and Paterno Libraries; and his current gift to the Department of Materials Science and Engineering, Hamer recognized that an endowed professorship is an honor and one which underscores the importance of talented faculty to our academic community. 

“Endowed professorships are vital in securing the very best candidates for several reasons. First, the funds they generate enable us to offer a competitive salary package to top candidates. These funds also help our most promising faculty to fulfill their potential as researchers and teachers,” said Bill Easterling, dean of the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences.

Gary Messing, head of the Department of Materials Science and Engineering stated, “Tthe achievements of the faculty members who hold a named position enhance the prestige of the endowment and the reputation of our institution as a whole. We seek individuals who can integrate their teaching and research interests and engage students in this process while serving as international leaders in materials. This endowed professorship creates an enormous opportunity to further improve our department in a way that no other honor can match.”

“The department’s excellent faculty have made it one of the country’s top-ranked material science programs in the world,” Messing added. “The future is being built on materials. Practically every area of human advancement -- including health care, energy production, communications and the dissemination of knowledge -- will rely heavily on our ability to devise and refine materials to support emerging technologies. Therefore, the Hamer Professorship of Materials Science and Engineering will cement the department’s leadership role in materials science and engineering.”

Hamer also is recognized as a Fellow of the American Ceramic Society. He is the past president of the ClearWater Conservancy and was awarded the Teddy Roosevelt Conservation Award in 1992.  Hamer received a Distinguished Alumni Award from Penn State in 2000, the University’s highest award for an individual.  In 1995, he was recognized as a Renaissance Fund Honoree for his commitment to both “town and gown.”

“This gift to Materials Science and Engineering is in many respects simply a ‘payback’ to Penn State for all I have gained from the many associations I’ve had with Penn State folks,” said Hamer.  “Much of the success I’ve had in my business efforts comes from these associations; and in addition to business prosperity, my life has been enriched in personal ways that give me happiness, satisfaction and many friendships resulting in a rich life here in Happy Valley.”

The Hamer Professorship of Materials Science and Engineering will support For the Future: The Campaign for Penn State Students, a University-wide fundraising effort 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 For the Future Campaign is the most ambitious effort of its kind in Penn State’s history, with the goals of securing $2 billion by 2014.

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Last Updated April 03, 2013