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Susan Grove

Gift endows Grove Center for Excellence in Science Education

11 April 2024

A gift from Penn State Eberly College of Science alumna Susan Grove and her late husband, Cada, an alumnus of the College of Education, has endowed and named the Eberly College’s Cada R. and Susan Wynn Grove Center for Excellence in Science Education.

The Groves’ estate plan has long included a $4 million bequest to create an early career professorship in mathematics and support the Eberly College’s Center for Excellence in Science Education. Now, Susan Grove has formalized an irrevocable future commitment of $2.25 million to endow the center; and with that decision, it will be named in honor of Cada’s and her significant contributions and support of science education across Penn State.

Susan and Cada Grove
A gift from Penn State Eberly College of Science alumna Susan Grove and her late husband, Cada, an alumnus of the College of Education, has endowed and named the Eberly College’s Cada R. and Susan Wynn Grove Center for Excellence in Science Education.

“When the Eberly College established the Center for Excellence in Science Education, Cada and I were enthusiastic supporters,” Susan Grove said. “The center’s mission was to improve the educational atmosphere for students in the Eberly College and to promote and share the teaching innovations of its faculty. Since then, the center has developed into a focal point for sharing teaching and learning ideas as well as a support framework for testing and implementing new methods. My hope is that our gift will secure the future of this center so that it can keep on with pursuing and championing continuous improvement in science education and learning at Penn State.”

Susan and Cada — both first-generation college students who graduated from Penn State in 1966 — had very different educational experiences, particularly in mathematics, as a result of being exposed to vastly different teaching styles in the same courses for majors and nonmajors; this led them to believe that there had to be better ways of teaching the material.

“Giving our educators the tools to support our students’ educational journeys both in and out of the classroom is a priority for our college and for the University,” said Tracy Langkilde, Verne M. Willaman Dean of the Eberly College of Science. “Gifts like this one from Susan and Cada Grove are instrumental in bringing together the most creative minds to collaborate and promote excellence in science teaching and learning, and position our graduates for success.”

The Grove Center unifies a flourishing community with the college, focused on using a scientific approach to enhance STEM education and learning.

“We work together across all departments and disciplines to share, grow and develop, to try new things and critically assess existing courses and programs and to support innovative ideas,” said Jackie Bortiatynski, director of the Grove Center. “We are teachers and researchers, both novice and expert, coming together around the common table of STEM education.”

What began over a decade ago with the creation of the Center for Excellence in Science Education, followed by the founding of the Office of Digital Learning, is coming together in the Grove Center, along with new efforts in discipline-based education research.

“Asking questions and collecting and using data to apply a scientific approach to teaching and curriculum — these are essential components to identifying where we as a college can better support student learning and success,” Bortiatynski explained. “The Grove Center for Excellence in Science Education brings together expertise from each one of our disciplines, with partners from other Penn State colleges and campuses, around scientific teaching and learning. With our partners, we look ahead at how we equip and support instructors to work with students to do their best learning in our environments.”

Much of the activity in the center happens through learning communities where faculty, staff, postdocs and graduate students work collaboratively on topics ranging from curriculum design and classroom instruction to student engagement and assessment, educational equity and graduate students’ professional development in teaching. There are regular workshops and discussions where instructors share and learn. One of these is the flagship Evidence-Based Teaching Academy, an annual weeklong workshop for faculty members and graduate students that focuses on the implementation of teaching practices supported by education research. The center also directly impacts thousands of Penn State students University-wide each semester — up to 10,000 annually — through the Learning Assistant Program, which enhances learning environments in the college through undergraduate peer facilitation and support of instruction. And the center even offers a grant program to support innovation in teaching with competitive seed funding.

“Supporting all of these efforts, the endowment of the Grove Center is affirmative of the fundamental importance of teaching to Penn State’s mission and land-grant heritage and indicative of the Eberly College’s continued investment in education as well as research,” said Mary Beth Williams, the Eberly College’s senior associate dean for science education.

Donors like the Groves advance the University’s historic land-grant mission to serve and lead. Through philanthropy, alumni and friends are helping students to join the Penn State family and prepare for lifelong success; driving research, outreach and economic development that grow our shared strength and readiness for the future; and increasing the University’s impact for families, patients and communities across the Commonwealth and around the world. Learn more by visiting