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Dr. Louis W. Schatz

Penn State alumnus Louis W. Schatz was the president and owner of General Plastics Manufacturing Co. of Tacoma, Wash., which he founded in 1941. The company contributed to NASA space shuttle and Navy Polaris , Poseidon , and Trident submarine programs. Schatz began his Penn State studies at the Mont Alto campus and earned his bachelor's degree in forestry in 1934. He was a native of Pittsburgh, Pa., and a long-time resident of Pauma Valley, Calif.

Schatz committed $5.6 million to help to establish The Louis W. Schatz Center for Tree Molecular Genetics in the Department of Ecosystem Science and Management. The center provides a unique collection of facilities, faculty and student support, educational programs, and materials for the forestry program at the University Park campus and Penn State Mont Alto.

Schatz made $1 million of the gift immediately available to support construction of a new forest resources building at University Park, to allow research equipment purchases, and to begin a research award program for forestry undergraduates.

At University Park, $1.4 million of the gift supported the center's facilities. The gift also added $1.2 million to fully endow a postdoctoral fellowship in tree genetics previously established by Schatz in 1997; created a $1.5 million endowment for a visiting scholars program; and provided $250,000 for The Schatz Library Collection in Tree Genetics to ensure that students and researchers have access to the most recent and complete literature on the topic.

At Penn State Mont Alto, $500,000 of the gift created a faculty position emphasizing forest genetics teaching, student advising, and the application and field-testing of concepts and materials created at the Schatz Center. An additional $500,000 supported a biannual colloquium on tree genetics that will enable researchers from around the world to come to Mont Alto to review the state of the science, propose future research, and develop joint programs with industrial, government, and private sources.

Students at both University Park and Mont Alto will benefit from the gift's $250,000 allocation for five endowed undergraduate research awards.

"Louis Schatz's generosity and foresight in creating this new center will propel our forestry programs to the next level of national and international achievement," says Larry Nielsen, director of the Department of Ecosystem Science and Management in 1998. "The Schatz Center will allow us to understand and manipulate the genetic basis of tree growth, performance, and use. Every one of our students, faculty members, and partners in the forestry industries will benefit as these new facilities and programs come into their full strength."

The college named Schatz an Alumni Fellow in 1985. He also received an achievement award from the Department of Ecosystem Science and Management during its 75th-anniversary celebration in 1982. Schatz also established two endowments in the Department of Ecosystem Science and Management during the 1980s to support student and faculty travel to professional conferences. In 1997, he created The Schatz Postdoctoral Fellowship in Tree Molecular Genetics, which evolved into his plans for the Schatz Center.