Penn State architectural engineering alumnus establishes graduate student scholarship

October 5, 2022

By Sarah Small

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — As a Penn State architectural engineering student, Lester Boyer relied in part on an undergraduate scholarship — followed by a teaching assistantship in the newly formed graduate program — to allow him to complete his studies while supporting his family, which included his wife and three children by the time he earned his master’s degree. Recognizing how critical the scholarship was in helping him launch his career as an architecture professor and consultant, Boyer and his wife, Pat, had a desire to give back to other students in a similar situation.

Boyer died in March of this year, and his legacy will be honored with the establishment of the Lester L. Boyer Graduate Research Scholarship. Boyer previously earmarked $100,000 of his estate to establish the scholarship to help full time Penn State graduate students pursuing a degree in architectural engineering.

“This scholarship will support our efforts to make Penn State architectural engineering degrees accessible and affordable,” said Sez Atamturktur Russcher, Harry and Arlene Schell Professor and head of the architectural engineering department. “I am delighted that we will be able to offer financial support for students to pursue their professional goals.”

Boyer received his bachelor of architectural engineering in 1960 and his master of architectural engineering in 1964, both from Penn State. After a brief employment stint in Massachusetts, Boyer joined the architecture faculty at Oklahoma State University. He took a hiatus to earn his doctorate in architectural engineering from the University of California, Berkeley, which he completed in 1976. He taught at Texas A&M in the 1980s, during which time he received two Fulbright Scholar awards. He also gave several invited talks around the world on his research, which focused primarily on earth sheltered buildings. Boyer also pioneered the architecture program at Kuwait University.

In addition to his career in academia, Boyer served as a consultant for several private and government entities. He and Pat lived in Forbes Park, a nature preserve in Colorado, where he designed an earth-covered solar home. It was one of three homes he designed for his family over his lifetime.

With the record-breaking success of “A Greater Penn State for 21st Century Excellence,” which raised $2.2 billion from 2016 to 2022, philanthropy is helping to sustain the University’s tradition of education, research and service to communities across the Commonwealth and around the globe. Scholarships enable our institution to open doors and welcome students from every background, support for transformative experiences allows our students and faculty to fulfill their vast potential for leadership, and gifts toward discovery and excellence help us to serve and impact the world we share. To learn more about the impact of giving and the continuing need for support, please visit  


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