$2.5M gift to create the Pollock Center for Addiction Outreach and Research

MIDDLETOWN, Pa. — Penn State Harrisburg has received a leadership gift of $2.5 million from the Douglas W. Pollock Foundation to establish the Douglas W. Pollock Center for Addiction Outreach and Research on its campus.

The center will address two areas of the substance abuse problem within the central Pennsylvania region, while serving as a catalyst to enhance communications and align numerous agencies and organizations in efforts to combat substance abuse. The early focus for the center will be providing targeted assistance to veterans of the U.S. military and their families who are facing addiction-related challenges, and helping to bolster nonprofit community organizations in their efforts to more effectively combat substance abuse across Pennsylvania, as well as nationally.

“Substance abuse is devastating lives, families and communities across the Commonwealth and the nation, and Penn State is committed to a leadership role in addressing this crisis,” said Penn State President Eric J. Barron. “The Douglas W. Pollock Foundation will make it possible for Penn State Harrisburg to help both individuals and organizations in the region, and to generate the research and models that will have an impact far beyond Pennsylvania.”

Douglas W. Pollock was born and raised in central Pennsylvania and was a 1973 Penn State graduate. A student-athlete in college, Pollock was an ardent Penn State supporter, as well as a supporter of the military and its veterans. Pollock battled mental health issues and addiction throughout his life, which ultimately caused his untimely death in 2016 at the age of 64.

“It is fitting and appropriate that our foundation provides this gift to Penn State Harrisburg to establish the Douglas W. Pollock Center for Addiction Outreach and Research,” said Pollock Foundation Attorney Michael Bangs. “The goal of the center is to collaborate throughout Penn State, with the private sector, foundations and government entities to coordinate efforts to address the issue of addiction.”

The gift will support professorships, graduate scholarships, and research and outreach efforts to pioneer and evaluate innovative avenues of prevention, treatment and recovery; it also will provide funding to facilitate the day-to-day operations of the center.

The center will be headed by Weston Kensinger, assistant teaching professor of health education in Penn State Harrisburg’s School of Behavioral Sciences and Education, where the center will be housed.

“Penn State Harrisburg is ideally suited to house the center, given its established research expertise; its academic infrastructure that combines programs and faculty in many health-related fields; and its many existing partnerships within the region and throughout Penn State,” said Penn State Harrisburg Chancellor John M. Mason Jr.

“The Center for Addiction Outreach and Research is an ambitious endeavor with tremendous potential to make a lasting difference throughout the region. We are truly grateful for the generosity of the Douglas W. Pollock Foundation in helping the center to become a reality, and providing a foundation upon which we can build,” Mason said.

Penn State has made addressing substance abuse a strategic priority throughout the University and has established the Penn State Consortium to Combat Substance Abuse with the goal of tackling the problem at multiple levels. As a consortium partner, the Pollock Center for Addiction Outreach and Research at Penn State Harrisburg will be a unique addition to the region’s substance abuse programming with its early emphasis on assisting special populations and community organizations.

Through previous gifts to Penn State Harrisburg, the Douglas W. Pollock Foundation has supported scholarships for students studying education, and athletics, including the establishment of the Courtney Pollock Memorial Field and Softball Complex on campus, named for Pollock’s daughter Courtney, also a Penn State alumna. She died in June 2013 from cancer.

For more information about the Douglas W. Pollock Center for Addiction Outreach and Research, visit harrisburg.psu.edu/pollock-center.

Organizations and individuals interested in collaborating with and/or supporting the center are encouraged to contact Kensinger at [email protected] or Marissa Hoover, director of development at the Harrisburg campus, at [email protected].

This gift will advance "A Greater Penn State for 21st Century Excellence," a focused campaign that seeks to elevate Penn State’s position as a leading public university in a world defined by rapid change and global connections. With the support of alumni and friends, “A Greater Penn State” seeks to fulfill the three key imperatives of a  21st century public university: keeping the doors to higher education open to hard-working students regardless of financial well-being; creating transformative experiences that go beyond the classroom; and impacting the world by fueling discovery, innovation and entrepreneurship. To learn more about “A Greater Penn State for 21st Century Excellence,” visit greaterpennstate.psu.edu.