Skip to main content
Old Main bell tower.

Estate gift will support women in mathematics at Penn State

1 April 2024
Gail and Robert Dezube
Robert and Gail Dezube have made an estate commitment to create two scholarships in the Eberly College of Science to support the next generation of math and science students,. Image provided.

Penn State alumnus Robert Dezube remembers the moment when mathematics concepts started to make sense. His professor in a theoretical math course had written the anonymous scores from their second test on the board and said that while most students perform consistently, one of the top scores was from someone who was at the bottom on the previous test.

“That was me,” Dezube said. “Something just clicked in my head, and after that anything I took in math was simple.”

Dezube, who graduated with a degree in mathematics in 1974, worked as a consulting actuary until his retirement in 2016 and served on an advisory committee for Penn State’s actuarial science major for several years. To help support the next generation of math and science students, he and his wife, Gail, have made a $750,000 estate commitment to create two scholarships in the Eberly College of Science.

“We have lived a comfortable life, and I attribute that to the good start I got when I went to Penn State,” he said. “It gave me a good background, and I met a lot of interesting people along the way. Interacting with a diverse array of students prepared me to meet and work with a lot of different people throughout my career.”

Robert Dezube said that his parents encouraged him to attend a state school for the excellent value it provides. Gail Dezube also attended a state school, graduating from Douglass College (now part of Rutgers University, New Brunswick) in 1972, and a much-appreciated fellowship she received while pursuing a graduate degree at Rutgers helped to pay off her undergraduate loans. The couple hopes their gift will help provide opportunities in math for future Penn State students and reduce the financial burden of obtaining a degree.

The Robert and Gail Dezube Math Scholarship in the Eberly College of Science will support students majoring in mathematics, or intending to major in mathematics, who are involved in a group that promotes women in math or science, such as the Women in Mathematics Club.

“I have two children: Rebecca, who is now a doctor, and Josh, who is a financial guru working for Goldman Sachs, and both of them excelled in math,” Robert Dezube said. “Rebecca was often the only woman in her math classes, and she competed in math competitions despite being the only woman on her team. She didn’t let that hold her back, but we feel that it is important to support students like Rebecca who might be facing a similar environment.”

The Robert and Gail Dezube Completions of Dreams Scholarship in the Eberly College of Science will provide funds to students facing difficult personal and financial circumstances.

“We have been fortunate not to have too many disruptions in our lives,” Robert Dezube said. “In general, things have gone as we had hoped and planned. We are cognizant, though, that this is not always the case. Illness, change in finances, natural disasters — these can all wreak havoc with the best‐laid plans. We would hope that this scholarship would assist a current student, whose financial situation has changed suddenly, to continue at Penn State despite the new hardship.”

“This generous gift from Robert and Gail will help to keep a Penn State degree within reach for students, even as they are facing crises and challenges, and enhance the experiences of women, who are still underrepresented in mathematics,” said Paul Milewski, professor and head of the Department of Mathematics. “Both scholarships represent faith in the students and the future of the Eberly College of Science, and we are deeply grateful for the Dezubes’ support.”

Donors like Robert and Gail Dezube advance the University’s historic land-grant mission to serve and lead. Through philanthropy, alumni and friends are helping students to join the Penn State family and prepare for lifelong success; driving research, outreach and economic development that grow our shared strength and readiness for the future; and increasing the University’s impact for families, patients and communities across the commonwealth and around the world. Learn more by visiting