Earth and Mineral Sciences

Slingerland Early Career Professorship endowed in Earth and Mineral Sciences

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Rudy L. Slingerland, professor of geology in Penn State’s Department of Geosciences, was recently honored by a former graduate student and his wife who established an early career professorship in his name. The Rudy L. Slingerland Early Career Professorship in the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences has been created through a gift from Roland P. and Debra C. Sauermann who donated funds to establish the professorship. The Sauermann’s gift fulfills the matching requirement of the Penn State Faculty Endowment Challenge for an endowed fund that totals $500,000.

“I am humbled by Roland and Debra’s gesture and know that the professorship will continue to enhance the excellent scientific work within Geosciences and throughout the College,” Slingerland said. “The funds and recognition will enable a rising faculty star to establish a vigorous research program in emerging areas of their discipline while also energizing students in the classroom. This type of endowment creates never-ending opportunities.”

Faculty support is a top strategic priority for Dean William Easterling during the For the Future: Campaign for Penn State Students. This gift provides the dean with the kind of endowment support necessary to recruit and retain top academic talent in the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences.

“This early career professorship recognizes current achievements and outstanding accomplishments; and demonstrates a belief in potential for a promising faculty member’s career moving forward,” Easterling said. The dean expects to announce the appointment of the first Rudy L. Slingerland Early Career Professor in the coming months.

Slingerland received his bachelor of science in geology from Dickinson College, served in Vietnam with the U.S. Navy Seabees from 1969-71, received an master of science and doctorate in geology from Penn State, and joined the faculty in 1977. He has held numerous positions within the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences including head of the Department of Geosciences from 1997-2003. Slingerland’s research group currently studies the evolution of morphdynamic systems, including tectonically-driven landscapes, deltas, rivers and shallow marine shelves by coupling theory, often in the form of dynamical models, with observations in the field and subsurface. The group’s ultimate goal is to develop predictive theories for the behavior of these systems and the stratal record of their deposits. He was also recognized with the 2012 G. K. Gilbert Award for Geomorphology from the AGU, which honors a scientist who has made a significant contribution to the field of earth and planetary surface processes.

Of their philanthropic investment in the college, Roland and Debra commented, “It is a great privilege for Debra and I to share in honoring Rudy’s legacy at Penn State. Rudy has enriched so many lives through his exceptional work as a scientist, educator, academic leader and mentor. The intent of the Rudy L. Slingerland Early Career Professorship is to help support and inspire young faculty to develop their intellectual passions and step out in new directions.”

Roland Sauermann received his bachelor of arts in earth science from Wesleyan University, and his master of science in geology from Penn State. Roland is the founder and president of SGV International LLC, an engineering firm that specializes in the oil and gas industry. Roland and Debra are longstanding supporters of the geosciences department and have been members of the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences’ Obelisk Society since 2008. The couple resides in Houston and have a son who is an undergraduate student at Harvard University.

Faculty support is a top priority of For the Future: The Campaign for Penn State Students. This University-wide effort is directed toward a shared vision of Penn State as the most comprehensive, student-centered research university in America. The University is engaging Penn State's alumni and friends as partners in achieving six key objectives: ensuring student access and opportunity, enhancing honors education, enriching the student experience, building faculty strength and capacity, fostering discovery and creativity, and sustaining the University's tradition of quality. The campaign's top priority is keeping a Penn State degree affordable for students and families. The For the Future campaign is the most ambitious effort of its kind in Penn State's history, with the goal of securing $2 billion by 2014.

The Penn State Faculty Endowment Challenge offers donors an opportunity to leverage matches from the University for gifts creating new Early Career Professorships in any of Penn State’s academic units. For more information please visit the Penn State Early Career Professorships website at

Rudy L. Slingerland, professor of geology, was honored by Roland P. and Debra C. Sauermann with the establishment of a Early Career Professorship in his name. Credit: Penn StateCreative Commons

Last Updated January 09, 2015