The generosity of Smeal alumni and friends shaped the student experience in 2022-23.
Donor support plays a vital role in the student experience at the Penn State Smeal College of Business, funding scholarships, programs, and facilities that enrich their college experience and empower them for future success.
Here are four of the many ways Smeal alumni and friends are having an impact:
Strickler Office of International Programs
Penn State Smeal alumnus George Strickler and his wife, Alice, had never traveled outside of the United States until he was asked to serve as treasurer for Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. in São Paulo, Brazil, in the late 1970s. From there, the Stricklers would relocate to Lima, Perú, when George was named finance director for Goodyear Perú.
While the family, which includes children George, Stephen, Todd, and Lauren, moved back to Ohio in 1982, George traveled extensively to locations around the world.
The experience reinforced the Stricklers’ belief in the importance of international experiences to a well-rounded college education and led them to make a $2.5 million estate commitment to name the Strickler Office of International Programs at Smeal. They’ve also pledged annual resources for discretionary spending to support international programs and study abroad experiences now.
According to Terrence Guay, Smeal’s associate dean for international programs and director of the Center for Global Business Studies, the gift will allow Smeal to expand international business course offerings, foster an international component in courses across the business disciplines, and encourage international experiences and cocurricular programming.
“In essence, the Stricklers’ gift will support all Smeal students in their quest to gain a more international perspective, utilizing not just study abroad opportunities, but curriculum development, participation in student clubs, organizations, and case competition teams, and attendance at conferences and lectureships as well,” Guay says.
Reflecting on this gift, Strickler calls it a “natural fit.”
“My international assignments helped me develop skills like critical thinking and reasoning that benefited me throughout my career,” he says. “Alice and I believe that the more opportunities you have to have an international experience, and to do so at a young age, the better prepared you’ll be for success. We want that for as many people as possible.”
Fred H. Schaefer Scholars Program in Accounting
Fred Schaefer credited his undergraduate degree in accounting and his master’s degree in business administration, both of which he earned from Penn State Smeal, with putting him on the path to career success.
Schaefer began his career at Arthur Andersen in the late 1960s and retired as senior vice president of Wendy’s International Inc. in 2010. Throughout his more than 40-year career, he was renowned for his integrity and his commitment to excellence.
After Fred passed away unexpectedly in 2018, the University received a $4 million gift from his estate to create the Fred H. Schaefer Scholars Program in Accounting. The program provides scholarship support for participants and encourages leadership and ethical standards, a commitment to community service, and a study abroad or international internship experience.
Penn State track & field standout and Schreyer Scholar Victoria Vanriele is one of 20 Smeal accounting students currently enrolled in the program.
“Mr. Schaefer believed in the importance of having a worldview. As an athlete, it’s not possible to be away from campus during the academic year, but the scholarship and travel support from the Schaefer Scholars Program helped make it possible for me to fulfill the internship required of all Integrated MAcc (Master of Accounting) students with an international internship in KPMG’s Mauritius office, off the southeast coast of Africa, last summer,” Vanriele says. “I even came home with a full-time job offer.”
Vanriele says the emphasis the program places on ethics has also enhanced her Smeal experience.
“The program has introduced us to individuals who have been caught in accounting scandals and that helps to emphasize the importance of being transparent and ethical in our work,” she says. “In fact, my Schreyer thesis topic is on the perceived notion of whether or not an increase in accounting education would decrease accounting fraud in the future. It’s been wonderful to develop my thesis in conjunction with these talks.”
According to Vanriele, the experience gives participants a “leg up.”
“I’ve had the chance to meet business leaders I would not have otherwise met, and I’ve gotten to know other students who have become trusted colleagues. The Schaefer Scholars Program first helps us see the possibilities in the field and then it helps us reach them!”
Melvin Jacobs Retail Program
Melvin Jacobs, whose career in the fashion industry took him from the bargain basement at Bloomingdale’s to the chief executive’s office at Saks Fifth Avenue, died in October 1993. But, thanks to a philanthropic gift from Jacobs’ family, his legacy at his alma mater lives on.
Each year, the Melvin Jacobs Retail Program welcomes 10 Penn State Smeal students with an interest in pursuing careers in fashion and luxury retail as Jacobs Fellows. The one-year program provides opportunities for Fellows to participate in exclusive events, attend a retail conference, network with industry leaders, travel to a fashion capital, and more.
As part of the program, fellows also complete a consulting project for a luxury retail and/or fashion company.
“During my time as a Jacobs Fellow, I had the opportunity to engage with professionals in the luxury retail sphere, including representatives from Estée Lauder, Richemont, and The RealReal, through interactive speaker presentations and a year-long consulting project. The projects allowed my classmates and me to solve business problems ranging from new acquisitions to marketing strategies to a new product launch,” says Julia Saganowich, a senior marketing major with a minor in digital media trends & analytics, who is also a Schreyer Honors College student.
Fellows attended sessions such as retail merchandising, sustainability, and social media marketing at the National Retail Federation Student Program in New York City in January.
Saganowich calls the Fellows “coveted” Fashion Capital trip to New York City her favorite experience.
“My peers and I saw our classroom learnings of luxury retail come to life. Activities included tours of Tiffany & Co. and Saks Fifth Avenue’s flagship stores, site visits to a Louis Vuitton pop-up store in the Meat Packing District and Buccellati’s Madison Avenue boutique, and a behind-the-scenes tour of Longchamp’s North American corporate offices,” she says.
Saganowich says she was grateful for the experience.
“None of this would have been possible without the efforts of the Jacobs family,” she says. “Through their unwavering support of luxury retail education at Smeal, I’ve enhanced my marketing degree with a unique and valuable set of skills.”
“During my time as a Jacobs Fellow, I had the opportunity to engage with professionals in the luxury retail sphere …”
Richard and Brooke Booth Executive DBA Graduate Scholarship
When Penn State Smeal College of Business alumnus Richard “Rick” Booth first heard about the college’s plans to launch a new executive doctorate degree in business administration in 2023, he immediately “wanted to get involved in some way.”
That turned out to be a $125,000 commitment from Booth and his wife, Brooke, to create an annually funded DBA scholarship. The rationale behind their gift was simple: help the program compete for the best students as the program is getting established.
Now that the inaugural cohort of DBA candidates is enrolled, Cara Winslow has been named the first recipient of the Booths’ scholarship.
Winslow earned a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from Stonehill College in 2000 and set out to fulfill her dream of becoming a federal law enforcement agent. A broken bone followed by an introduction to her future husband reshaped her vision for the future, and instead, she found a fulfilling career in human resources.
“I’ve been interested in pursuing an advanced degree for quite some time, “ she says. “Knowing education is the greatest gift my husband and I can give our daughter, I put that plan on hold so she could attend a private school.”
In 2020, with her daughter almost finished with school, Winslow enrolled in the Human Resources and Employment Relations master’s program taught by Penn State World Campus. “I was so inspired by the professors I worked with,” she says. “I decided my greatest contribution to the future of human resources would be teaching at the graduate level.”
That realization led Winslow to Smeal’s Executive DBA Program.
When Winslow was laid off earlier this year, she considered deferring her admission for a year. Instead, the Booths’ scholarship allowed her to enroll as planned this fall. “They’ve given me an invaluable gift,” she says. “I know most see it as money, but for me, it is opportunity. I want to make them proud.”
After graduating in 2026, Winslow hopes to teach at her new alma mater. “It’s important to keep the ‘human’ in ‘human resources.’ I’d like nothing more than to teach at Penn State and instill that value in new generations of HR professionals.”
“They’ve given me an invaluable gift. I know most see it as money, but for me, it is opportunity. I wanted to make them proud.”