Shirley To Retire At End Of Year

University Park, Pa. --- Dr. David A. Shirley, senior vice president for research and graduate education at Penn State since 1992, will retire at the end of 1996.

He and his wife, Barbara, plan to move to Berkeley, Calif., where Shirley was director of the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory prior to coming to Penn State. He was recently named director emeritus of the laboratory and he plans to pursue his continuing research interests there.

Dr. Graham Spanier, president of Penn State, said "As a distinguished scientist and member of the National Academy of Sciences, Dave Shirley is used to giving and receiving a level of performance that is the best this country has to offer. He brought this commitment to excellence fully intact to Penn State and it enriched us and renewed our confidence in our university's strength."

Shirley's tenure at Penn State coincided with major congressional efforts to slow the growth of federal research and development grant programs. Nevertheless, under his leadership, Penn State was well positioned to compete. In the most recent comparative study of the ability of university faculties to take advantage of a broad range of funding opportunities, Penn State ranked first in the nation.

To ensure Penn State's ability to compete for the best graduate students, Shirley convened the Task Force on Graduate Education. This committee targeted enhanced quality, growth where appropriate, and increased student funding as priorities. The most recent report on graduate education shows that the Graduate Record Examination scores on incoming graduate students are the highest in Penn State's history.

Graduate enrollment of underrepresented minorities is also up. The number of degrees granted to minority students has increased and the time-to-degree is less than the University-wide average for both the master's degree and the doctorate.

Funding for graduate fellowships is also at record high levels throughout the University. Areas of study in which funding from outside sources has traditionally been small or non-existent have been enhanced along with areas where funding is more readily available. Innovations, such as the 10 new tuition fellowships for graduate students in the liberal arts, have enabled that college to recruit the best students more aggressively.

Shirley also set in motion the process that has led to the establishment of the Life Sciences Consortium (LSC). The LSC will help emphasize team approaches in graduate education and will encourage faculty members in the University's life science units to re-group themselves across colleges and disciplines when appropriate.

In technology transfer, Penn State has maintained its position as the No. 1 public university in the nation in industry-sponsored research. Shirley has championed a global perspective in the import and export of technology. During his tenure, programs to import surface coating technology from the Ukraine were established as well as a program to export water pollution control technologies to Korea. The first phase of Penn State's Research Park was completed on his watch and the second phase is being aggressively pursued.

In returning to California, Shirley will be going back to the area he had made his home since graduate school. He earned his Ph.D. in chemistry at the University of California, Berkeley in 1959 and was appointed to the faculty. He rose through the ranks, becoming a full professor in 1967, and served as department head from 1971 to 1975. He maintained a very active research program in electron spectroscopy and his accomplishments won him election to the National Academy of Sciences in 1978. He was named to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1980.

From 1975 through 1989, Shirley was associate director and then director of the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory. Lawrence Berkeley is a multiprogram national laboratory operated by the University of California for the U.S. Department of Energy.

The University of Maine, where he earned his bachelor's degree, bestowed an honorary doctor of science on him in 1978. The Free University of Berlin presented him with an honorary doctorate in 1987.

He has also been honored with the California Section Award of the American Chemical Society and the Ernest O. Lawrence Award of the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission.

He is a fellow of the American Physical Society and of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.


Barbara Hale
(814) 865-9481 (office)
(814) 238-0997 (home)

Vicki Fong
(814) 865-9481 (office)
(814) 238-1221 (home)