Smeal Update: March 12, 2021

Rogers’ gift will create J. Randall Woolridge Professorship in Finance

Penn State alumni and longtime benefactors Dave and Tricia Rogers have made a $1 million commitment to create the J. Randall Woolridge Professorship in Finance in the Smeal College of Business. The professorship, named for longtime Smeal faculty member J. Randall “Randy” Woolridge, the Goldman, Sachs and Co. and Frank P. Smeal University Fellow, will help Smeal recruit and retain exceptional faculty members in finance. Read the story.

Three Smeal grads recognized with Distinguished Alumni Awards

Lisa S. Baird, commissioner of the National Women’s Soccer League, Carl T. Berquist, retired executive vice president and chief financial officer of Marriott International Inc., and Charlotte B. McLaughlin, president and CEO of PNC Financial Services, will receive the Distinguished Alumni Award, which is Penn State’s highest honor presented to its alumni. All three Smeal alumni have been notified of their selection by the board and are invited to accept the award from the University in 2021. Read the Penn State News story.

Susan L. Taylor to speak as part of Smeal Diversity Enhancement Programs Speaker Series

Susan L. Taylor, founder and CEO of the National CARES Mentoring Movement and the former editor of Essence magazine, will speak virtually at 6 p.m. March 23. Taylor’s talk is part of the Smeal Office of Diversity Enhancement Programs Speaker Series. The event is free and open to everyone, but pre-registration is required.

Penn State Smeal EMBA program now offering flexible remote attendance

To support even the busiest students in achieving their goals, Smeal is now offering optional remote attendance for the Philadelphia-based Executive MBA program, allowing students to attend up to 50 percent of each course remotely with the remaining half in person. Read the story.

Consider nominating someone for a Smeal staff award

Our staff members play an integral part in the success that Smeal enjoys and we like to recognize their contributions to the college. Each year the Smeal Staff Award Committee evaluates nominations for awards in five categories:

  • Customer Service Award
  • RISE Above Staff Award
  • Leadership Award
  • Outstanding Staff Award
  • Staff Sustainability Award

Information on the awards can be found on the Smeal Intranet. Email Rebecca Cianci at if you have any questions.

Smeal in the News

Academic Leadership Already Lacked Women Representation Pre-Pandemic. Now What?

Felisa Higgins, associate dean of undergraduate education, and four other leading women in business education, shared their experiences and calls for change in a recent article by Harvard Business Publishing. Read the story.

Ask the Dean open for your questions

We share information about the college in our weekly Smeal Community Zoom sessions, but sometimes there isn’t time to discuss an issue fully. To address those topics, we’re introducing Ask the Dean. Send your questions to We’ll do our best to provide answers in a video to be included in an upcoming Smeal Update.

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 evaluates our “new normal.” Click this link to participate. Results will be shared during next week's Smeal Community Zoom.

Next Week at Smeal

Center for Global Business Studies webinar (2-3 p.m. Wednesday)

Smeal’s Center for Global Business Studies will host a webinar titled “Navigating the Transition to Energy’s New World Order” from 2-3 p.m. Wednesday. The webinar will focus on how key players in the oil and gas industry adapt to a world that is increasingly gravitating towards renewable sources of energy. Featured speakers include: Samer Al Hokail, president and CEO of Saudi Petroleum International, Inc., and Sarah Ladislaw, senior vice president and director and senior fellow of the Energy Security and Climate Change Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. Fariborz Ghadar, the William A. Schreyer Professor of Global Management, Policies and Planning and founding director of the Center for Global Business Studies, will moderate the discussion. More information and a registration link can be found online.

Question from faculty

How should I plan for the fall semester given continuing uncertainties about COVID?

We are moving toward an on-campus learning environment for fall 2021. Our priorities continue to be the health and well-being of all members of the University community and local communities. Even though we are moving forward with these plans, which include scheduling courses using pre-COVID modes of instruction, we are mindful of the fact that many uncertainties remain. It is important that we continue to be adaptive and flexible given the uncertainties related to the availability of vaccines and the continuation of COVID mitigation measures such as physical distancing. Both individual instructors and academic units should also consider the manner in which courses were delivered in Fall 2020 as a starting-point for a blueprint of a ‘Plan B’ for the fall semester in the event that a return to full in-person learning is not a possibility. If we don’t return to in-person learning, departments/academic units and faculty will not be required to stay with what was offered in fall 2020 in all instances — room for appropriate adjustment will be given.