Thomas Wartik, in Memoriam, 1921 to 2013

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Thomas Wartik, in Memoriam, 1921 to 2013

Thomas Wartik, professor emeritus of chemistry and dean emeritus of the Eberly College of Science, pictured in 1986

05 June 2013

Thomas Wartik, professor emeritus of chemistry and dean emeritus of the Penn State University Eberly College of Science, died on 29 May 2013 at Foxdale Village in State College at the age of 91.

Born on 1 October 1921 in Cincinnati, Ohio, Wartik began his career by graduating from the University of Cincinnati in 1943, doing research related to the Manhattan Project atomic-energy program at the Metallurgical Laboratory of the University of Chicago during the Second World War, and then earning a Ph.D. degree in chemistry at the University of Chicago in 1949 followed by a one-year postdoctoral fellowship there. He then began serving Penn State continuously since 1950.

In 1950, he became an assistant professor of chemistry at Penn State, which at that time was named the Pennsylvania State College. He was promoted to associate professor in 1956 and to professor in 1961. He served as head of the Department of Chemistry from 1960 to 1971, including a research sabbatical year at the University of Cambridge, England, from 1963 to 1964. He then served as dean of the college from 1971 until his retirement in 1984.

At the time of his retirement, when he was honored with the ranks of emeritus professor and emeritus dean, Penn State president Bryce Jordan honored Wartik for his "superb leadership and dedication to science." Under Dean Wartik's leadership, undergraduate enrollment in the college increased by 41 percent and support for research grants and contracts increased from about $3 million to more than $15 million. Jordan said, "Penn State has the national science reputation that it does in large part because of Tom Wartik's leadership in the areas of teaching and research." Wartik also played a key role in attracting a $10-million gift from the Eberly Family that created an endowed chair in each of the college's academic departments, a gift that Jordan predicted "will assure a very bright future for Penn State's College of Science."

The Eberly College of Science Alumni Society honored Wartik in 1987 with its Distinguished Service Award in recognition of his "leading the college to national recognition by dedication to the highest academic and scientific standards, dynamic administration, and effective fund raising." Also in 1987, Penn State honored Wartik by naming a large new research facility on the University Park campus in his honor, Wartik Laboratory. After his retirement until just recently, Wartik had continued to participate actively in the college in a variety of ways and to contribute to Penn State with his advice, support, and wisdom.

A memorial service is planned for Saturday, June 22, 2013, at 2 p.m., at Foxdale Village in State College. In lieu of flowers, a memorial gift may be made to: Penn State Eberly College of Science, 427 Thomas Building, University Park, PA 16802. Please indicate "Thomas Wartik" on the memo line of the check. Gifts may also be made online at by checking the "Eberly College of Science" box and indicating that the gift is in memory of Thomas Wartik in the "other:" box.

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The obituary published on 2 June 2013 in the Centre Daily Times is online

Barbara Garrison (Head, Penn State Department of Chemistry):
Barbara Kennedy (PIO):, 814-863-4682