Eberly College of Science and College of Engineering receive '52 alumnus bequest

Ashley WennersHerron
July 16, 2019

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – Penn State students majoring in architectural engineering or physics may soon benefit from an estate gift totaling more than $890,000. The gift from M. Dean and Jean L. Underwood will establish two scholarships, one in physics and one in architectural engineering.

 M. Dean Underwood, who graduated from the Eberly College of Science with a bachelor’s degree in physics in 1952, died on Jan. 28, 2019, at the age of 95. His wife, Jean, died in 2017. In their estate, they left more than $590,000 to establish the M. Dean and Jean L. Underwood Scholarship in Physics. 

“We are pleased that this generous gift from the estate of Mr. Dean Underwood will be used to establish this scholarship in our college,” said Doug Cavener, Verne M. Willaman Dean of the Eberly College of Science. “Ultimately, this gift will elevate the academic excellence in the physics department and enhance the college, and all of Penn State, by making it a richer and more vibrant place to learn.”

The Underwoods also bequeathed $300,000 to the College of Engineering to establish the M. Dean and Jean L. Underwood Scholarship in Architectural Engineering. 

M. Dean Underwood worked on the construction of an AM radio station in Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania, before and during his undergraduate career. 

“Mrs. and Mr. Underwood always appreciated architectural engineering, and we’re thankful for their gift, which will help provide scholarships for architectural engineering students,” said Sez Atamturktur, the Harry and Arlene Schell Professor and head of the Department of Architectural Engineering. “We are a five-year program, but federal financial aid only lasts for four years. This gift will enable us to help cover some of this gap for our students.”

Prior to attending Penn State, M. Dean Underwood served in the Navy for three years, where he completed an electronics training program. After his graduation from Penn State, he worked at Bell Telephone Laboratories, where he served in the transistor development department and significantly contributed to the development of an all-electronic central office. 

M. Dean Underwood, an avid golfer throughout his life, retired to Pinehurst, North Carolina, in 1976. There, he developed a system of computer programs to automate the golf operations at Pinehurst, his local country club. 

This gift will advance “A Greater Penn State for 21st Century Excellence,” a focused campaign that seeks to elevate Penn State’s position as a leading public university in a world defined by rapid change and global connections. With the support of alumni and friends, “A Greater Penn State” seeks to fulfill the three key imperatives of a 21st-century public university: keeping the doors to higher education open to hardworking students regardless of financial well-being; creating transformative experiences that go beyond the classroom; and impacting the world by fueling discovery, innovation and entrepreneurship. To learn more about “A Greater Penn State for 21st Century Excellence,” visit greaterpennstate.psu.edu

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Last Updated July 18, 2019