Liberal arts dean, distinguished professor make leadership gifts

Susan Welch, dean of the College of the Liberal Arts, and Alan Booth, distinguished professor of sociology, human development, and demography, have made new leadership gifts to Penn State to support outstanding graduate students, faculty, and staff in the college.

Over the past two decades, Welch and Booth established endowments to support current research and professional development activities for graduate students in the liberal arts and for graduate and undergraduate students in sociology. During the University’s current capital campaign, For the Future: The Campaign for Penn State Students, Welch and Booth have donated in excess of $500,000 in current and deferred gifts.

“Susan and Alan have uplifted the excellence of the college and the University through their own research and teaching, but in addition, they have been steadfast supporters of undergraduate students, graduate students, and faculty,” said Penn State President Rodney Erickson. “Penn State could not have become a world-class university without the generosity and dedication of extraordinary people like Susan and Alan.”

Booth will create a graduate student research fund in sociology through an estate commitment, which will fund the purchases of new technology or software, research travel, and support for graduate students. Welch will expand a graduate fund named in honor of her parents, which recognizes academic excellence by graduate students throughout the College of the Liberal Arts.

Through a multi-year commitment, Welch also is endowing a new staff recognition award, in honor of Ron Filippelli, retired associate dean and professor of labor studies and employment relations. The Filippelli Award will support a full-time member of the Liberal Arts staff who is pursuing a degree at Penn State. In addition, Welch is creating a new endowment to honor outstanding research in the social sciences by the faculty in the College of the Liberal Arts. This award will be named for Ray Lombra, special adviser to the dean and professor of economics. Lombra served the College of the Liberal Arts as associate dean for more than 18 years.

"We came to Penn State in 1991 because of the fantastic people already here and the legacy of the faculty who came before," Welch said. "Liberal Arts was a good college at a good university then, but there was a demand to make them even better. Twenty-two years later, we’ve come a long way and with the help of our alumni and friends, we built a world-class college in a world-class university. It’s been our honor to work with so many outstanding faculty, staff, alumni and students."

Welch arrived at Penn State in 1991 from the University of Nebraska with the charge to lead the College of the Liberal Arts to national excellence and leadership. For more than two decades, she has worked closely with University administrators, academic heads and senior faculty to develop and implement effective strategic plans and focus key resources on programs with great potential. As a result, many of the college’s core programs have risen to the top 10 in their fields. 

Booth is distinguished professor of sociology, human development, and demography at Penn State and senior scientist in the Population Research Institute. He is one of the national leaders in the study of marriage, divorce, and the impact of both on children. He has had an illustrious and productive academic career, having authored more than 130 articles and four books, and edited 22 books. His doctoral graduates have gone on to successful careers at many universities.

Booth served as editor of the Journal of Marriage and the Family from 1986 to 1991. He was president of the Midwest Sociological Society in 1990, chair of the American Sociological Association Family Section in 1991, chair of the National Council on Family Relations Research and Theory Section from 1996 to1997 and recipient of the American Sociological Association Family Section Distinguished Career Award in 2002. He has served on the editorial boards of several leading sociological journals.

Both gifts by Welch and Booth will help the College of the Liberal Arts reach its goals in For the Future: The Campaign for Penn State Students. This 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 November 13, 2013