Tuesday, March 26, 2024

The late Ernest “Ernie” Pascarella, professor emeritus of Higher Education and Student Affairs (HESA), was an internationally recognized scholar, respected colleague and mentor, and a friend to those who crossed his path.

Though Pascarella passed away on Jan. 23, 2024, his impact and legacy lives on through the thousands of lives he has touched as a scholar, mentor, researcher, veteran, and as a colleague, family member, and friend.

Many former University of Iowa College of Education alumni, students, colleagues, and friends shared sentiments of Pascarella’s intellectual prowess, generosity, and kindness.

People know the University of Iowa Higher Education and Student Affairs program and his work as a result of his involvement and wide influence that he had with many people, not just as a scholar, but as a human being,” Mary Louise Petersen Chair in Higher Education Nicholas Bowman says. “He was so generous, so kind, and was very helpful. Sort of the opposite of what a stereotype might be of someone who has that amount of influence, where you might think of them as being really full of themselves as opposed to being really oriented toward caring about others.” 

Bowman took over as the Mary Louise Petersen Chair in 2020 when Pascarella retired. He is also a professor in the Department of Educational Policy and Leadership Studies, and the director of the Center for Research on Undergraduate Education (CRUE)

Because of his dedication to supporting college students and creating opportunities for those who wished to continue their education, Pascarella’s family recently established the Dr. Ernest Pascarella Memorial Scholarship fund, named in his honor and memory.

The fund will benefit graduate students in HESA with the greatest financial need.

“The establishment of this scholarship honors our father who was deeply committed to truth and learning,” Andy Pascarella says of his late father. “In keeping with Dr. Pascarella’s commitment to further education at the University of Iowa, he chose to donate his body to the Deeded Body Program at Carver College of Medicine.”

Pascarella spent his career in academia researching and writing about the influence of college on students, writing copious peer-reviewed articles, serving on dissertation committees, and mentoring dozens of students. 

His work was highlighted by “How College Affects Students,” a book he co-authored with Patrick T. Terenzini in 1991, receiving the 1991 Research Achievement Award from the Association for the Study of Higher Education (ASHE). It was recognized as one of the 100 most important and influential books on higher education written in the 20th century.

Not only did he research the impact of college students, but he used what he learned to better the environment for students.

In 2005, Pascarella and former UI Faculty member Elizabeth Whitt established the CRUE and served as its first co-directors. The center's mission is to apply and share research and knowledge, nurturing an understanding of effective college education. 

He was also recognized for his work within the college and on a national level. He served as the president of the Association for the Study of Higher Education (ASHE) in 1989-90 and received the ASHE Howard R. Bowen Distinguished Career Award in 2003. 

As a military hero who was awarded the Bronze Star and three Purple Hearts from his time serving as a platoon leader, rifle-company commander, and first lieutenant with the First Marine Division in Vietnam during 1967-68, he took pride in being a recipient of a Hawkeye Distinguished Veterans Award in 2015. 

Nicholas and Kay Colangelo also created the Ernie T. Pascarella Military Veteran Promise Award to support scholarships for student veterans.

“Ernie was an amazing mentor. That is something, at a recent conference, people consistently talked about, his ability to mentor and his ability to care about students as people,” Bowman says. “In addition to developing them as scholars, as practitioners and so forth, he was really in it for them.”

Donate to the Dr. Ernest Pascarella Memorial Scholarship fund today.