New scholarship supports IST students transitioning from Penn State campuses

Stephen Pace and Rita Pace, smiling and standing outside in front of some trees

A gift from Penn State Altoona alumnus Stephen Pace and his wife, Rita Pace, has endowed a new scholarship for students in the College of IST.

Credit: Provided

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — A $100,000 gift from Penn State Altoona alumnus Stephen Pace and his wife, Rita Pace, has endowed a new scholarship for students in the College of Information Sciences and Technology (IST).

The Pace Family Scholarship will support full-time undergraduate students who are enrolled in IST, have demonstrated a financial need for funds to meet their necessary college expenses, have achieved a GPA of at least 3.25 and are transitioning from a Penn State campus to University Park, with first preference given to students from the Altoona campus.

“We are truly grateful for Stephen and Rita’s commitment to help lessen the financial obstacles that many of our students face,” said Andrea Tapia, dean of the College of IST. “Their generosity serves as an example for other alumni who are seeking their own ways to meaningfully contribute to making an IST education more accessible.”

Stephen Pace graduated from Penn State with a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering in 1982. He spent his first two years at Altoona campus, where he participated in intramurals, was a resident assistant and started WARC, the campus’s radio station.

“While my academic credentials and GPA were important, there is nothing like the Penn State network to jumpstart a career,” Pace said.

“My 40-plus-year career in information technology has been a wonderful journey with many lifelong friends and colleagues made along the way. It all started in 1980 with an internship at IBM in Endicott, New York. The hiring manager was an Altoona campus alum, and the rest, as they say, is history.”

After having been on the receiving end of the Penn State network, Pace is now on the giving end.

“It’s come full circle, and there is no better feeling than to be able to help others much like those who came before you and gave you a chance,” he said. “It is a privilege to give back to Penn State, and I have been fortunate to be able to do so over the past two decades.”

Twenty years ago, when he was a go-to-market executive in information technology, Pace learned about the formation of the Penn State College of IST.

“IST had an interdisciplinary curriculum and objectives that I could really support,” he said. “I could see the benefits of IST graduates entering the workforce with more than theoretical learnings — they had the practical and collaborative skills that are in such high demand in our industry. With that, I was all in.”

The Pace Family Scholarship is intended to help feed that pipeline. Pace was the first in his family to attend Penn State. Forty years later, all three of the couple’s children have graduated from the University, and more than a dozen cousins and extended family are also Penn State alumni.

“We were inspired by several factors to make this gift, including our commitment to, passion for and belief in Penn State and its mission — and the desire to help prospective students who have a financial need and a dream of a better life through advanced education,” Pace said.

Donors like Stephen and Rita Pace 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