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Gilbert and Donna Kahn Professorship in Education

Gilbert and Donna Kahn Professorship in Education

Carla Zembal-SaulThe Gilbert and Donna Kahn Professorship in Education was endowed with a gift from the late Gilbert Kahn and his wife, Donna Kahn. It is intended to strengthen the college’s programs in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education.

Carla Zembal-Saul, Penn State professor-in-charge of science education in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction, was named the endowed professorship in the College of Education.

Zembal-Saul joined the Penn State faculty in 1997. A former middle school teacher, her research interests center on science teacher learning, particularly the development of specialized knowledge and practices for supporting children's learning and scientific inquiry. Most recently, she has been involved in designing electronic resources aimed at assisting elementary teachers in incorporating scientific argumentation practices into their science teaching. This work is funded in part by a Faculty Early Career Development grant from the National Science Foundation, the NSF's highest award for new faculty.

Zembal-Saul’s work also has explored the use of e-Portfolios with prospective teachers as a vehicle for facilitating substantive reflection on teaching practices.

According to College of Education Dean David Monk, income from the Kahn endowment could support such activities as faculty research, professional development, travel expenses, and graduate assistants.

“The Kahn Professorship will support a vitally important area of the field of education in perpetuity,” Monk said. “STEM education is tied directly to the development and utilization of scientific talent for the nation and the world, and we are enormously grateful to the Kahns for their generosity, vision, and commitment to the College of Education.”

Gilbert Kahn, who passed away in February 2007, earned a bachelor’s degree from Penn State in 1961 in business administration and spent most of his career as an executive with Union Camp Corp.

“Gil’s interest in education stems from his father, Gil Sr., who was a business education teacher and school administrator, and wrote a number of widely used textbooks,” Donna Kahn said. “Gil Sr. taught at Penn State during summer school when Gil was a boy, and my husband talked fondly about accompanying his father on those trips to the University.

“Gil also had the highest admiration for Dean Monk,” she added, “and we wanted to honor him in naming this professorship.”

Donna Kahn earned a bachelor’s degree from Simmons College in Boston and a master’s degree in nursing from Boston University. A retired nursing educator, she resides in New Jersey.

The Kahn Professorship is the third endowment Gil and Donna Kahn have created in the College of Education. They also established two merit and need-based scholarship funds for undergraduate students. In addition, Gilbert Kahn was a volunteer fund-raising leader for the college and chaired its Investing in People initiative, beginning in 2003.