Planning for the Future
He’s helping students construct a career path.
His scholarship is laying the groundwork for success.
Contributing with purpose
When Michelle Patrick, then-dean of West Chester University’s College of Business and Public Management approached George Fasic to secure his partnership in creating a scholarship program, he thought hard about what he wanted to achieve.
“I had a phenomenal career,” George says, “and I benefited greatly from my association with the University and its students. My learning experience there truly improved my professional performance, and establishing this scholarship was a way for me to give back.”
Passionate about planning, George served on the faculty of the Geography & Planning Department from 1982 until his retirement in 2015. During that time, he worked closely with Dr. Dorothy Ives Dewey, a professor of planning and former chair of the department whose collaboration was also integral to the project. Now, the George Fasic Planning Endowment helps inspire students to pursue planning studies and explore a professional planning career.
“Money becomes a timely resource for students,” he says. “It augments limited income and increases self-confidence. And the Foundation monitors the account,” he adds, “So I have confidence that the funds are being spent on education.”
George put himself through school, graduating from Penn State University in 1957. He then financed a master’s degree from Columbia University with a full-time land planning job and funding from the GI Bill, an experience that became an important factor when defining the awarding criteria for his scholarship – recipients must demonstrate service to the University, the department, and/or the community.
“It was a very positive thing because I could apply what I was learning,” George says. “That’s how I learned to be a planner, and that’s what I try to convey to students.”
Connecting students to their coursework was key to George’s teaching. To broaden their knowledge, he asked them to ride public transportation and deliver reports on their experiences. He asked them to analyze changes in the historical sites of downtown West Chester and partnered with the historical society to use QR codes to compare and contrast changes over time.
Students sought him out for recommendations, for help with resumes, jobs searches, interviews, and networking, and he found these relationships fulfilling. Reflecting on this provided George with insight into what he could offer them.
“I didn’t want to just give them a scholarship – I wanted to give them a mentor,” he says. “It has allowed me to see these students – all of whom have potential – actually succeeding”
Former Faculty & Donor
George Fasic Planning Endowment
“I had a phenomenal career, and I benefited greatly from my association with the University and its students. My learning experience there truly improved my professional performance, and establishing this scholarship was a way for me to give back.”
“I didn’t want to just give them a scholarship – I wanted to give them a mentor,” George says. “It has allowed me to see these students – all of whom have potential – actually succeeding."
Shaping young minds
As the former director of the Chester County Planning Commission with more than 50 years of experience as a professional planner, George has amassed quite a list of friends and former associates, many of whom have supported his scholarship. He’s also gained an understanding of the value of communication.
“I taught my students that they had to communicate to get their ideas across and I counseled them on how things work in an office environment,” says George. “To make planning relevant, you have to teach students how to plan with people.”
And they’re listening. One of his scholarship students was a member of a University team that created a virtual reality model of campus to envision new buildings, public space, and review tree growth. The project earned the department a Special Achievement in GIS (SAG) Award during the annual Esri User Conference in summer 2019.
“As a professor, I got more out of the students than I gave to them,” George adds. “Watching them go through the courses and interacting with each other helped me make the courses better.”
George now has 18 scholarship recipients and continues to keep in touch with them to discuss non-academic problems, life situations, and just to see how they’re doing. He gave seed money to one to start building a company and taught her about contracts. He encouraged another to accept a job offer out-of-state.
“I told her, ‘If you don’t like it, come back and I’ll get you a job,’. I believe a lot in these kids,” he says.
Picking up speed
In 2014, George was honored by Senator Dinniman with a Lifetime Achievement Award, but it’s clear that his work is far from over.
George is confident that working with the Foundation – and the University – will help make his vision for the University a reality. West Chester University is one of only a handful of schools that offer undergraduate and graduate degrees in planning, and he hopes the scholarship will increase student interest.
“I see WCU as a leader in education – we have an opportunity to help guide the future of the state system. One thing I learned as a planner is that people see things differently than you.”
The inaugural recipients of George’s scholarship received $500 each – now the award has doubled and is given to three to five students each academic year. Ideally, George hopes to increase the award to a minimum of $1,500 for three students annually. Recently, the awarding criteria was amended to allow the department to save any monies earned beyond what is needed for the current year, giving the department the flexibility to finance extracurricular activities, like transportation or registration to a conference.
He continues, “We need a bigger emphasis on communication across all disciplines. Back to basics. Our job is to make students aware of not just planning, but planning with people.”