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. Dr. 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.

Dr. Schatz committed a total of $5.6 million in gifts and from his estate to establish The Louis W. Schatz Center for Tree Molecular Genetics in the Department of Ecosystem Science and Management. The Schatz Center provides a unique collection of facilities, faculty and student support, education and training 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, as well as support for research equipment purchases and an undergraduate field trip fund.

The estate gift also endowed the The Schatz Center for Tree Molecular Genetics research fund which supports postdoctoral fellowships, a visiting scholars program; library collections, and research awards for undergraduate students. 

At Penn State Mont Alto, a gift from Dr. Schatz' estate created an operating fund emphasizing forest student programs, a biannual colloquium on tree genetics and research awards for Mont Alto undergraduate students.

Larry Nielsen, director of the Department of Ecosystem Science and Management in 1998, stated "Louis Schatz' generosity and foresight in creating this new center will propel our forestry programs to the next level of national and international achievement". "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.

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  • Associate Professor & Director, Schatz Center for Tree Molecular Genetics