Faculty, alumni commit $364K to honor comparative literature leader

November 06, 2012

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Penn State faculty, friends and corporate supporters have made commitments totaling $334,000 to establish an Early Career Professorship in Comparative Literature in honor of Caroline Eckhardt, the longtime head of the department and professor of comparative literature and English. Faculty colleagues, administrators and alumni also contributed an additional $30,000 to create a fund to support various programs and initiatives for the study of comparative literature, also in honor of Eckhardt.

The Caroline D. Eckhardt Early Career Professorship in Comparative Literature will provide additional resources to outstanding young faculty during the early and critical years of their careers at the University. The funds will recognize their achievements and enable them to pursue further innovation in the classroom and in their research. With matching funds from the Penn State Faculty Endowment Challenge, the total endowment is worth $500,000. Both gifts were announced at the recent celebration of the department’s 25th anniversary.

“Over the last quarter century, Carey Eckhardt has been at the center of comparative literature at Penn State,” said Susan Welch, dean of the College of the Liberal Arts. “As the only head in the history of the department, she has worked tirelessly to create, lead and inspire the faculty and students. Along the way, she has nurtured important teaching and scholarship, and elevated the humanities at Penn State."

During Eckhardt’s tenure, the department has graduated about 430 bachelor of arts and 70 doctoral graduates and grown to include some 20 faculty. Its graduates have gone on to successful careers in education, government and business, many of them having benefited from the professor’s lessons in critical reading. Finally, the department has been recognized nationally as a leader in the field, ranked in the top 10 percent by the influential National Research Council.

In addition, Eckhardt has incubated a number of less commonly taught languages in the Penn State curriculum, including Chinese, Japanese, Korean and Hindi -- now all part of the Asian Studies Program — as well as Swahili, Arabic and Turkish. Offering these languages allows the College of the Liberal Arts to fulfill the basic obligation of a public university to prepare its students for a global world.

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 from unrestricted endowment resources.

Faculty support is a top priority of For the Future: The Campaign for Penn State Students, the University-wide 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 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.



  • An Early Career Professorship in Comparative Literature has been established in honor of Caroline Eckhardt.

    IMAGE: Penn State
Last Updated November 14, 2012