Gift supports early career science librarian

April 01, 2014

A recent gift by Penn State alumni to support a librarian with a focus in the advancement of the natural and physical sciences will provide enhanced, high-level research services for Penn State scholars in these fields. The Eric N. and Bonnie S. Prystowsky Early Career Science Libraries Professorship will provide the holder with financial support and encouragement during the critical first 10 years of his or her academic career. The initial tenure of the appointment is for three years, with the possibility of renewal for an additional three-year term.

Eric Prystowsky, a 1969 Penn State graduate in the School of Sciences, director of the Clinical Electrophysiology Lab at St. Vincent Hospital and director of Clinical Electrophysiology with The St. Vincent Medical Group, a multispecialty network of cardiologists and other physicians in Indiana, says that he and his wife, Bonnie, a 1967 Penn State graduate in Liberal Arts, had long wanted to support their alma mater. However, they were initially unsure as to where their contributions would be most needed.

“Bonnie Pearlstein and I met and fell in love at Penn State, and for that reason Penn State has always been a special place for us. It was many years later that I was given the Distinguished Alumnus award, and being back on campus with our family and seeing all the wonderful changes that had taken place, especially with the Library, engendered in us the desire to ‘give back’ to an institution that had provided so much to us in our formative years as students,” said Prystowsky, who was named Outstanding Senior in 1969. Both are life members of the Penn State Alumni Association.

“It was not obvious to us where our contribution would do the most good, and we spent several years and many hours in discussions with University folks before making a decision. During this time, Bonnie became a member of the Libraries Development Board and had an insider’s view of its outstanding accomplishments and national ranking. 

“The Library is a hub with spokes reaching out to all students, regardless of their area of study, and in our opinion a wonderful place to make a contribution. We both have been mentors to many individuals in the early phases of their careers, and decided to fund an Early Career Professorship to advance research and scholarship for a worthy young academic in the Libraries at Penn State,” noted Prystowsky.

Prystowsky wanted to honor the School of Science so they stipulated that the person selected be dedicated to that school. “Thus was born the Early Career Science Libraries Professorship,” he said.

In making this gift, the Prystowskys have risen to a challenge set by Penn State to ensure that the university can compete for the scientists, scholars, and educators with the greatest potential to contribute to society. The 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. These awards rotate every three years to a new recipient in the first ten years of his or her academic career, providing seed money for innovative research projects and flexible funding for new approaches to teaching. The 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, ensuring support for rising faculty stars.

Thanks to the Prystowskys, the Libraries will be able to provide even stronger support to the growing fields of study within the Eberly College of Sciences. “We are confident that Dean Barbara Dewey will select an outstanding person to fill this position now, and that many qualified academics will benefit from the position and make lasting contributions to Penn State in the future,” said the Prystowskys. “The journey was long, but the end result was worth it and more.”

The Prystowskys’ gift will help the University Libraries meet 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.

For more information, contact the Libraries’ Development Office at 814-865-2258.

Last Updated April 01, 2014