Fundraising initiative to honor Rob Pangborn, benefit Student Success Center


UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — In the fall of 2020, as Rob Pangborn prepared to conclude his 41-year Penn State career and retire from his post as vice president and dean for Undergraduate Education in December, his friends, associates and colleagues launched an initiative to honor his legacy. The group has now raised $15,500 toward the $25,000 needed to endow the Rob Pangborn Honorary Fund for the Student Success Center.

Once fully funded, the endowment will provide discretionary funding for the Student Success Center, which launched in 2019 and which Pangborn played a lead role in establishing within Undergraduate Education. The center’s mission is to facilitate the success of all Penn State students, with a particular focus on advancing racial and gender equity and addressing the unique needs of low-income, first-generation and post-traditional students, as well as students with intersecting identities.

The effort to create the Rob Pangborn Honorary Fund has been led by Penn State alumni couple Michael E. Katzaman and Diane Malcolm Katzaman, who have committed $10,000 to the initiative. Michael Katzaman serves as a member of the Student Affairs and Undergraduate Education Development Council, in which capacity he worked closely with Pangborn.

“Rob has been an extraordinary champion of Penn State students, particularly those from under-represented backgrounds and low-income families and those who are the first in their family to attend college,” said Michael Katzaman. “Diane and I hope to honor his distinguished career by supporting a center which Rob helped to create and which supports these very students. We’re thrilled that others have joined the effort, and we hope that many more will step forward.”

Diane Malcolm Katzaman and Michael Katzaman, who live in Berks County, Pennsylvania, previously established the Diane Malcolm and Michael E. Katzaman Scholarship in the College of Agricultural Sciences and supported initiatives across Undergraduate Education and Student Affairs.

Joining the effort to endow the Rob Pangborn Honorary Fund has been Rob Springall, Penn State’s assistant vice president for Undergraduate Education and executive director of Undergraduate Admissions, who began his tenure in fall 2020.

“As for many of us in the Office of Undergraduate Education, Rob was instrumental in my decision to come to Penn State, and I am incredibly thankful to have worked alongside him during the fall 2020 semester,” said Springall. “I am so pleased to be a part of an initiative that honors Rob’s outstanding legacy at Penn State and supports the success of Penn State students across the commonwealth.”

The purpose of the Rob Pangborn Honorary Fund for the Student Success Center will be to provide the center’s director with funding for a range of priorities and needs. Proceeds from the fund may be used to advance initiatives such as establishing a student-alumni mentoring program, launching a speaker series focused on various facets of student success, or expanding Penn State’s participation in the National First-Generation College Celebration, which highlights the unique experiences of first-generation college students.

“I am thrilled that the Rob Pangborn Honorary Fund will be available to help us advance student success across Penn State,” said Denise Poole, director of student success initiatives. “Our ultimate goal is to grow the culture of care that exists for students across the University, and this funding will help us to achieve this vision.”

As vice president and dean for Undergraduate Education for nearly 15 years, Pangborn played a critical role in Penn State’s educational mission by providing vision and leadership in the many areas of undergraduate education across the University. Pangborn worked as associate dean for undergraduate studies and international programs in the College of Engineering for more than 10 years prior to his post in Undergraduate Education and as Penn State’s interim executive vice president and provost from November 2011 to June 2013. He began his Penn State career in 1979 as an assistant professor of engineering mechanics and was named a full professor in 1990, a position in which he remained throughout his service to the University. 

“I am so honored and delighted by the establishment of this endowment in support of student access and success, themes that have been a central passion in my teaching and administrative career at Penn State,” said Pangborn. “I am truly grateful to Mike and Diane Katzaman for their leadership gift and steadfast support on behalf of undergraduate education and our students, as well as to Rob Springall and others who have also contributed generously to the initiative. I know that Student Success Center director, Denise Poole, will put the derived funds to excellent use.”

Individuals who wish to make a contribution to the Rob Pangborn Honorary Fund for the Student Success Center can do so online or by contacting Undergraduate Education’s Development Office at or 814-865-6600.

Gifts to the Rob Pangborn Honorary Fund for the Student Success Center 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 serving communities and fueling discovery, innovation and entrepreneurship. To learn more about “A Greater Penn State for 21st Century Excellence,” visit


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Megan Lakatos

a women and two men stand side by side facing the camera

Diane Malcolm Katzaman and Mike Katzaman are pictured with Rob Pangborn. IMAGE: PENN STATE