Alumna creates new endowed professorship in criminology
A 1969 Penn State alumna with a distinguished career in the U.S. federal court system has created the Dr. John Kramer Professorship in Criminology in the College of the Liberal Arts.
Mary O’Neill Marsh, a longtime supporter of the Department of Sociology and Criminology, included the professorship in her transformative $3 million gift to Penn State. The professorship honors Dr. John Kramer, emeritus professor of sociology and criminology, and will inspire the next generation of world-class faculty and researchers in the Department of Sociology and Criminology.
“I’m grateful to be able to thank Dr. Kramer, the Criminology program and Penn State for the impact they have had on my life personally and professionally,” Marsh said. “Dr. Kramer has been the face of the program for so long and has influenced so many students during his career; I couldn’t think of a better way to honor his legacy and enhance what is already one of the strongest criminology programs in the country.”
Penn State’s Department of Sociology and Criminology is widely regarded as among the best worldwide, ranking among the top ten in the nation according to the National Research Council. “Faculty quality is vital to everything we do—our ability to offer our students a world class education, our graduate training, and our position as a leading department,” said Susan Welch, dean of the College of the Liberal Arts. “An endowed professorship is forever. Marsh’s gift honors Dr. Kramer, whose leadership has placed the department among the world’s best, and gives us a crucial advantage in recruiting and retaining the world-class faculty of the future.”
Marsh was one of the first three graduates of Penn State’s then-newly formed Law Enforcement and Corrections Program when she graduated in 1969. She went on to serve as a probation officer with the Court of Common Pleas in Philadelphia and with the U.S. District Court in Philadelphia before retiring as Senior Deputy Chief U.S. Probation Officer. She is a founding member of the Department of Sociology and Criminology Alumni Board of Visitors, and last year led the board in establishing the Trooper Dickson Memorial Scholarship to honor 2003 criminology graduate and Pennsylvania State Trooper, Bryon Dickson, who was killed in the line of duty in 2014. Marsh is also a member of the Mount Nittany Society and the 2016 recipient of the College of the Liberal Arts Service to Penn State Award.
“Mary’s commitment to Penn State, to the College of the Liberal Arts, and to the Department of Criminology and Sociology is unsurpassed,” Welch said. “Her legacy at Penn State is permanent, and her philanthropy will inspire excellence for generations to come.”
For four decades, Kramer spearheaded groundbreaking research in criminology while always maintaining a clear focus on his students. He was also a leading practitioner in Pennsylvania’s criminal justice system, including nearly twenty years as executive director of the Pennsylvania Commission on Sentencing and three years as director of the United States Sentencing Commission.
“Ms. Marsh’s establishment of the Dr. John Kramer Professorship in Criminology is a tremendous honor for me and a major contribution to the future of the Criminology program,” Kramer said. “To be recognized by Mary, who herself has made so many contributions to the university and to the field of criminal justice, makes this recognition even more special. Being singled out is very gratifying; but, while my name will be on the professorship, the professorship will represent the extremely strong Penn State culture made up of faculty, students, and alums.”
Beyond the $1 million she allocated to the professorship, Marsh also gave $1 million to create the Mary O’Neill Marsh Endowed Support Fund for the University Libraries; and, $1 million to assist student-athletes with the Mary O’Neill Marsh Student-Athlete Learning Enrichment Endowment. Her commitment represents one of the first leadership gifts in Penn State’s upcoming fundraising initiative. The University began counting gifts toward the initiative on July 1.
Supporters like Marsh are invaluable partners in fulfilling the University's land-grant mission of education, research and service. Private gifts from alumni and friends enrich the experiences of students both in and out of the classroom; expand the research and teaching capacity of our faculty; enhance the University's ability to recruit and retain top students and faculty; and help ensure that students from every economic background have access to a Penn State education. The University's colleges and campuses are now enlisting the support of alumni and friends to advance a range of unit-specific initiatives.