Penn State Brandywine distinguished professor honored for 50 years of service

Stephen Cimbala began his tenure at the Brandywine campus in 1973
two people smiling in front of photo

Stephen Cimbala, left, distinguished professor of political science, recently celebrated a career milestone when he completed his 50th year of service at Penn State Brandywine. Chancellor Marilyn J. Wells, right, and members of the Brandywine community gathered to celebrate this milestone.

Credit: Penn State

MEDIA, Pa. — Stephen Cimbala, distinguished professor of political science, recently celebrated a career milestone when he completed his 50th year of service at Penn State Brandywine. Arriving at Brandywine (then Penn State Delaware County) in 1973, Cimbala has held various roles, including political science professor and director of academic affairs. He was also fortunate enough to work under the leadership of John Vairo, the founding campus director.

The Brandywine community, past and present, came together to commemorate this accomplishment on Sept. 27, as Cimbala recently began his 51st year on campus. The reception featured photos of Cimbala posted around the Tomezsko Classroom Building’s lounge, buttons with old photos and food items that were popular in 1973. Cimbala’s colleagues also made statements about their experiences with him and what they wish for him in the future.

Joe Biscontini, retired director of university relations and former Cimbala classmate at Penn State University Park, commented on his fondest memories. He noted that the two used to go on four-mile walks on the streets surrounding the campus every day. Even if they had disagreements during meetings, they would still go on their walk to break up the workday.

“I would still enjoy going on that four-mile walk with you down Yearsley Mill Road, although it would take us two and a half hours instead of 48 minutes,” he laughed. “I appreciate your scholarship, and of course your humor. Whatever you decide to do for however long you decide to do it, I wish you Godspeed.”

Julie Gallagher, professor of history and American studies, recalled her hallway conversations with Cimbala, as their offices are in the same wing in Vairo Library.

“I knew whatever came out of Steve’s mouth would be valuable,” she said. “More than a few nights, I would be late for dinner because of our conversations about politics and women’s rights. He’s been a joy of a neighbor in our windowless wing in Vairo.”

Chancellor Marilyn J. Wells reflected on the first time she met Cimbala in the Vairo Library hallway three years ago and how she always enjoys her talks with him, whether it’s in person or via email.

“Since our first conversation on Feb. 7, 2020, three weeks after I started at Brandywine, Steve and I have exchanged 167 emails, many of which have threads,” she said. “All our emails start with phrases like, ‘I wanted to share…’ or ‘I wanted to pass this along…’ or ‘thank you for…’

“I think it’s fitting that we’re celebrating Steve’s 50th anniversary today, Sept. 27, when just two days ago was Penn State Brandywine’s 56th anniversary. If anyone knows the history of our campus, it’s Steve.”

To close out the reception, Cimbala said a few words about his gratitude to the Brandywine community for celebrating his milestone.

“I want to send my gratitude to anyone who had a part in putting this celebration together,” he said. “I don’t have adequate words to say about how I’m feeling other than I’m so grateful. For the past half a century, the faculty, staff and students here, past and present, have done such tremendous work.”