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Downsbrough Department Head Chair in Physics Endowed With $3 Million Gift

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The Department of Physics in Penn State 's Eberly College of Science will receive a $3 million gift from the estate of George Downsbrough to endow the department head's chair.

The Department of Physics in Penn State's Eberly College of Science will receive a $3 million gift from the estate of George Downsbrough to endow the department head's chair.

The George A. and Margaret M. Downsbrough Department Head's Chair in Physics will be the third named department head chair to be endowed at Penn State , and the first in the Eberly College. It will be held by the current head, Jayanth R. Banavar.

George Downsbrough was president of the HRB Singer Co. in State College from 1970 to 1975, and remained a resident of the State College community until his death in 2004. He and his late wife, Margaret, who passed away in 2000, were volunteers and generous benefactors in support of the Eberly College and many other Penn State programs.

"In making his estate plans, my father asked my brother Bruce and I to direct that part of the estate designated for philanthropy to areas we judged most appropriate," said George Downsbrough Jr. "Bruce and I decided that we should be guided by what our parents did in their lifetimes."

George and Margaret Downsbrough's philanthropy to Penn State included endowment of a professorship and a graduate fellowship in physics, and a graduate fellowship in astrophysics. They were also among the major contributors to the Mueller Professorship in Physics. George Downsbrough was himself a physicist, having earned bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees in that field from Rutgers University in the 1930s.

"We are deeply appreciative of all the Downsbroughs have done for Penn State ," said University President Graham Spanier. "Their philanthropy demonstrates how private dollars can help to create truly exceptional learning experiences for our faculty and students."

The Downsbrough chair's guidelines stipulate that income from the endowment may be used for such purposes as scholarships and graduate assistantships, purchase of laboratory equipment, faculty professional development, new approaches to teaching and research and support for visiting professors.

"This endowed chair will provide a tremendous boost for the department by providing flexible annual funding to support innovative ideas in laboratories and classrooms and provide new options for faculty and students," said Daniel J. Larson, dean of the Eberly College .

George Downsbrough was named an Honorary Alumnus of Penn State in 2003 in recognition of the significant contributions he made across the University as a volunteer and benefactor. His career included employment in private industry and, during World War II, service in the U.S. Navy's Bureau of Ordnance. He joined the Singer Co. in 1965.

After his retirement in 1975, he and Margaret developed a prize-winning herd of sheep on their farm near State College . George Downsbrough Jr. and Bruce Downsbrough reside in Bellefonte and Knoxville , Tenn. , respectively.

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