Smeal Update: January 8, 2021

Welcome back, Smeal community

I would like to welcome everyone back from a well-deserved winter break. I hope that you are recharged and ready to take on another semester. This one begins with new reason for hope, as effective vaccines are beginning to arrive. I am optimistic that the vaccines, together with continued vigilance regarding hygiene, masking, and physical distancing, will help us get through to a summer that might just look very different than the last one.

Save the date: Executive Insights

The next edition of Executive Insights is planned for 11:15 a.m. to 12:05 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 5. Our guest will be Walter C. Rakowich, the former CEO of Prologis. Walt currently serves as chairman of the Penn State Board of Trustees Audit and Risk Committee. He is also a member of the executive committee of Smeal’s Real Estate Advisory Board. Executive Insights will provide an opportunity to discuss lessons in Walt’s recently published book “Transfluence: How to Lead with Transformative Influence in Today’s Climates of Change.” Please mark your calendars.

Smeal in the News

First Penn State Smeal MBA case competition focuses on sustainability

In an effort to share their collective wisdom and help their fellow program members prepare for future case competitions, Penn State Smeal College of Business second-year MBA students organized the inaugural Smeal MBA Case Competition this semester, aimed at first-year MBA students. Read the story. 

Kohl’s Business with Integrity Case Competition draws 26 teams

A team made up of three students from the Penn State Smeal College of Business and another from Information Sciences and Technology collaborated to win the top prize in the Kohl’s Busines with Integrity Case Competition. Read the story.

Penn State Smeal team named finalist of Deloitte’s Audit Innovation Campus Challenge

A six-member student team from the Penn State Smeal College of Business was named one of the finalists of Deloitte’s Audit Innovation Campus Challenge. Read the story.

Penn State Smeal management course collects more than 10,000 cans of pet food as class project

Instructor Neil Fogarty’s Management 326: Organizational Behavior & Design class raised and donated 10,375 cans to Centre County PAWS, a local non-profit animal shelter. Read the story. Our local CBS affiliate, WTAJ-TV out of Altoona, featured the project on its newscasts. You can view it online.

Home country a major influence for Penn State Smeal fall 2020 student marshal

Alejandra Castaneda, who graduated Dec. 19 with a 4.0 GPA in dual majors of management information systems and international politics, was chosen as the Smeal fall 2020 student marshal. Read the story.

Do you know someone who rocks? Nominate them!

Each month the Smeal Staff Advisory Committee names a You Rock! Award recipient. You can nominate a co-worker for the You Rock! Award online.

The Smeal Community Weekly Poll

The Staff Advisory Committee, in an effort to engage the Smeal community, is conducting a weekly poll. This week's survey resolves to answer a question about a New Year’s tradition. Click this link to participate. Results will be shared during next week's Smeal Community Zoom.


The first wellness day of the spring semester falls during the remote period. Will it still take place as scheduled?

Yes. Information about virtual programming that will occur on that day (Feb. 9) is forthcoming.

Will research labs and facilities remain open during the remote learning period?

On-campus research-related activities will continue to operate according to their established safety procedures.

Will in-person student research be permitted through the remote-only instruction period at the start of the spring semester?

Undergraduate and graduate students are permitted to continue working in labs if they are in town. Students may not request to remain in an on-campus residence hall solely for the purpose of working in a lab. Undergraduate students, graduate students, external visitors, and visiting scholars must receive prior approval from the relevant academic dean for them to continue on-campus research. Those who are already approved to work on campus do not need to be re-approved. All students and visitors must adhere to the standard operating procedures of the lab and be part of the person-count for square footage, scheduling, and any other relevant considerations. Faculty cannot and should not require undergraduate or graduate students to come to campus, and undergraduate and graduate students who conduct on-campus research must be included in the research reductions and approaches to de-densification.

What steps should faculty take now to prepare for the remote start to the semester?

In preparation for spring, faculty and instructors should use the extensive resources available on the spring 2021 planning section of the Keep Teaching website to prepare their remote teaching plans for their courses. Leading up to Jan. 19, faculty and instructors should continue to refine their course plans and syllabi for remote teaching and make adjustments as appropriate to transition any in-person activities and requirements to later in the semester. Additional guidance on clinical courses will be forthcoming.

Will all instructors be required to transition back to in-person teaching following the remote period?

Instructors will return to their originally scheduled spring 2021 course mode after the remote period concludes. Those who are part of a vulnerable population or who have other challenges with providing in-person instruction at any point during the semester should work with supervisors to determine how adjustments can be made. Additional information and guidance is available and regularly updated at the University’s Keep Teaching website. Instructors should also directly review “Instructional Issues for Return to Resident Instruction,” and Return to Work resources for faculty.