Smeal Update: May 16, 2020

Dear Smeal Community,

Welcome to our weekly update on the many activities of the Penn State Smeal College of Business.

As we continue to support Penn State’s efforts to address the impact of COVID-19, please refer to the Smeal Coronavirus FAQ page, which contains links to the University’s faculty/staff FAQs and other pertinent information.

Plans for a return to campus being developed

  • Several Penn State task forces are developing plans for how segments of the University community will return. The first of those, how to return to research, has been circulated to Smeal stakeholders who oversee the Behavioral Research Lab, the Rogers Family Trading Room, and the Laboratory for Economic Management and Auctions. Similarly, a team of leaders within Smeal is proactively working on recommendations for a safe and efficient return to work and learning within the college. More information on these plans will be shared in the coming weeks.

New procedures to be introduced for sustaining Penn State’s financial health

  • As the financial impact of the pandemic has come into clearer focus, Penn State has begun to introduce measures to sustain the good financial health of the University. These include short-term and long-term changes to spending and budgeting procedures as well as approaches to maximize the University’s collective buying power.
  • Effective Monday, May 18, all purchases except for purchase orders, interdepartmental transfers, and journal vouchers will need to be pre-approved. The financial coordinator in your unit can assist in the proper purchasing method and approval process. Any requests for reimbursement without pre-approval will likely be denied.  
  • In the short-term, purchasing cards will be suspended except for a select group of “super users” who will act as purchasing agents for goods, services, and travel within various parts of the University. These “super users” can have their card limits increased to accommodate the additional volume.
  • University travel must be booked through exclusive travel partners, Anthony Travel (814-258-6111) and Travel OnLion. This includes all arrangements booked after the travel suspension is lifted as well as any exceptions that are granted prior to that time.
  • The Payment Decision Matrix must be followed to appropriately identify the correct method for procuring goods and services. The intention of the Payment Decision Matrix is to provide greater leverage and buying power for the University in obtaining better pricing with our contracted vendors.
  • More information on these measures is forthcoming from the central finance division. Please consult the administrative staff member in your unit with any questions.

Smeal may employ virtual career fairs

  • Discussions are underway regarding when and how Smeal career fairs will be held during the 2020-21 academic year. Virtual career fairs are a strong possibility. Details on this should be available soon.

Business Building summer moves

  • With work-at-home arrangements still in place, summer office moves are in limbo. Conversations with unit and department heads will be scheduled.

TIAA counseling sessions to be held virtually until Aug. 15

  • One-hour sessions are available regardless of your participation in a TIAA retirement program. Click this link to register, then: Select Meet at Work (even though the session will be virtual), choose Pennsylvania from the dropdown menu, select Penn State University, and then Select a date and time that works best for you to meet virtually.

Keeping up with Zoom

  • To make Zoom a safer, more secure resource for learning and work, Penn State’s Office of Information Security has made some significant security setting updates. Those using a Smeal-owned device will have those updates installed via BigFix. Answers to Zoom security questions can be found online.