When Dr. Tom Liszka and his wife Marlene announced their pending retirements from Penn State Altoona, faculty, staff, and administrators considered several forms of recognition that would appropriately reflect their commitment to academic excellence and student achievement.
The final selection—an endowment named for Tom, retired associate professor of English, and Marlene, retired instructor in Theatre Arts and technical director of the Wolf Kuhn Theatre on campus—could not have been a more fitting tribute. Funded with gifts from their colleagues, family members, and friends, the $25,000 endowment recognizes outstanding achievement by students pursuing a degree in Arts and Humanities through the presentation of the Liszka Awards.
Several years ago, members of the Penn State Altoona community came together in similar fashion to honor Dr. Athleen J. Stere with the creation of a $50,000 Trustee Scholarship in celebration of her 85th birthday and over four decades of service to the University. The scholarship, which benefits Penn State Altoona students majoring in biology, has grown to $85,000.
The guidelines for the Liszka Awards were finalized in January 2013. These awards will be conferred on an annual basis to selected students pursuing a course of study in the fields of literature and theatre—mutual and lifelong passions of the Liszkas. Students will be nominated and selected by faculty on the basis of their written and dramatic work produced during the academic year.
“We are deeply moved by the generosity of our friends, families, and the Penn State Altoona community,” Tom Liszka said on behalf of Marlene. “We are humbled by the honor bestowed upon us. And we are excited by the possibilities of support for deserving students in English and the theatrical arts of theatre, voice, and dance for years to come. We’ve both known and worked with many wonderful students during our careers at Penn State—too many to mention individually. We’ve been wowed by what they have done. And we look forward to enjoying the accomplishments of all those who will come after and seeing those accomplishments getting the recognition they so richly deserve. We give our thanks to all those who made this possible.”
Chancellor Lori J. Bechtel-Wherry described the endowment as “a testament to Tom and Marlene’s many professional achievements, contributions to the arts, and lasting friendships that have formed throughout nearly fifty combined, dedicated years of service.”
The Liszkas are fixtures in the Altoona theatre scene, especially with the Altoona Community Theatre and the Penn State Altoona campus theatre, where they have directed, acted, sang, danced, built sets, designed lights, and run the pinrail.
“I am so proud to be a member of a campus community that sets the standard for our philanthropic mission by honoring the distinguished service of colleagues with the creation of an endowment that will provide financial support to students in perpetuity,” said N. Susan Woodring, director of Development and Alumni Relations. “Undeniably, the endowment expands upon the Liszkas’ already considerable legacy of devotion to students. It is always gratifying for me to work with benefactors who wish to select a specific act of philanthropy to celebrate the life or achievement of someone they love or admire.”
To explore opportunities at Penn State Altoona for philanthropic recognition of someone special in your life, please contact Sue Woodring at firstname.lastname@example.org, 800-874-8055, or 814-949-5104.