Leading the Penn State Smeal College of Business has been the highlight of my professional career.
July will mark 10 years since I was appointed Dean, and as I reflect on the last decade, I feel incredibly fortunate to be surrounded by exceptional students, talented faculty and staff, and an unparalleled network of alumni and friends who support our work to transform business education.
When I interviewed for the job in February 2012, virtually every group I met with asked me “Why Penn State?” The answer is as simple today as it was 10 years ago: Penn State is an excellent university, and Smeal is an outstanding business school.
Early in my tenure, faculty and staff approached me to discuss their vision for things like sustainability, diversity, and honor and integrity — which are, today, the pillars of Smeal.
When I accepted the role, I pledged to work diligently with the Smeal community to move the college forward to greater success and distinction. This would not have been possible had I not surrounded myself with good people — faculty, staff, and volunteers.
Some of our most prominent alumni and friends have stepped forward to serve on the Smeal Board of Visitors and other advisory boards, and I am proud to have been the first Smeal dean to actively engage our alumni living in Europe and Asia. Their guidance and counsel have been invaluable to our work.
Business education has changed dramatically during my tenure, most notably in graduate education. In July 2012, Smeal had just five resident and online graduate programs. Today it boasts more than 30, and we are proud to freely share courses, students, and resources across our entire professional graduate portfolio.
We continue to strengthen the undergraduate curricula as well. A new Corporate Innovation and Entrepreneurship major, pioneering cocurricular opportunities, and expanding corporate partnerships are just a few of the ways we are transforming business education for the next generation of leaders. We also created a business fundamentals certificate that enables students from other Penn State colleges to add a Smeal designation to their transcript by completing three prerequisite courses, four prescribed courses, and one business elective.
Of course, I would be remiss in sharing highlights of the last decade without acknowledging the challenges of the past two years. The abrupt shift to online learning and remote work brought on by the pandemic inspired creativity and tenacity which not only preserved but strengthened the connections that we share with one another. Today, we have completed two semesters of on-campus instruction, student clubs and organizations have resumed their activities, and our students are thriving.
Alumni support has been vital to our mission. Six years ago, Penn State began its third fundraising campaign: “A Greater Penn State for 21st Century Excellence.” I am pleased to share that Smeal far exceeded its $88 million fundraising goal. I look forward to sharing more details with you in a future edition of Smeal Magazine.
Over the last five years, we have worked to refine how the world sees us — what we refer to as our brand. Our purpose to “develop lifelong partnerships by inspiring learning and fostering connections” has been visible through various forms of strategic communication, our ever-expanding and integrated portfolio of degree programs and certificates, and in our daily interaction with our various stakeholders.
All told, I am confident we are on the right path, and I look forward to the road ahead.