Remembering a Professor’s Patience, Guidance, and Acumen

A Grateful Former Student Pays Tribute to Phyllis Frankl by Endowing a Scholarship in Her Honor

I magine arriving at the NYU Polytechnic School of Engineering as a newly minted doctoral student. You’re ready and eager to start down the road to earning your PhD, but there are a few significant obstacles in your path. The first is that English is your second language and you are nowhere near fluent; writing is particularly difficult for you, and there are sure to be many written assignments over the next few years. The second is that you’ve come to Brooklyn with wife and child in tow; you will somehow have to attend to the needs of your young family in addition to devoting yourself to your studies.

It’s a daunting prospect, but now imagine that you are lucky enough to have as your advisor Professor Phyllis Frankl. “From the very first day I got here, she was an enormous help,” one of her former students says. “It was important that I find scholarship money right away—if not, there would have been no way for me to undertake doctoral work—and she was instrumental in guiding me in that area.”

Firmly established in his career, that student, who prefers to remain anonymous, is now making it easier for a new generation of computer scientists and engineers to find financial aid by generously endowing a scholarship in honor of his former advisor.

“Professor Frankl was always so encouraging and patient,” he explains. “She was understanding of my language barrier and sympathetic to the fact that I had a family to take care of. My wife and I are both still enormously grateful to her and appreciative of her advice.”

Founding the Phyllis G. Frankl Scholarship Fund, he explains, is a way of paying tribute to his respected professor and ensuring that other students benefit from the wisdom and insight that she and her fellow School of Engineering faculty members can provide. “Much of my professional success is due directly to the education I received there,” he says, “and I hope this scholarship will allow others to gain those same advantages.”

Frankl remembers the school’s newest benefactor with special fondness. He was among the first PhD advisees of her career, and he arrived just as she received her first NSF grant. “He was bright, motivated, and hard-working,” she recalls. “He was really everything a professor could wish for in a student.”

And as his latest act of generosity amply demonstrates, he is also everything a university could wish for in an alum.