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Message to the Smeal Community from Dean Thomas

The following is a message from James B. Thomas, the John and Becky Surma Dean of the Smeal College of Business.
November 10, 2011

The following is a message from James B. Thomas, the John and Becky Surma Dean of the Smeal College of Business:

Dear Smeal Community,

As you continue to process the disturbing news from the weekend and the chaotic past few hours, it's natural to question what it means to be a Penn Stater and to be part of the Smeal College of Business community. And, of course, what it all means for Penn State.

We all struggle to explain recent events to our students, our friends, and to our children. We debate, discuss, and are in shock by every aspect of this and it will continue for some time. Our prayers for the victims and their families are strong and many.

I have spoken to many members of our community over the last few days, from students and alumni to faculty and staff.  Each has been affected by the report from the grand jury, the resulting news coverage, the steps being taken at the University, and reactions to those steps last night. I am still coming to terms with all the twists and turns of this myself.

Here's what I do know as a Penn State alum ('74), a nearly 25-year Penn State employee, and dean of Smeal:

1.   I will not let the horrible alleged actions of one and the inaction of a few others dent my love for this University with its 45,000 employees, 95,000 students, and 550,000 alumni. Penn State is much more than any one or a few individuals … it lives in and through all of us.

2.   I am completely confident that the interim leadership team and the Board of Trustees will continue to work tirelessly on our behalf to reestablish this wonderful institution. New President Rod Erickson is a great leader. I have worked as a dean for him for 13 years and I have total confidence that he is the right person to bring us back. This isn’t a platitude … he is for real.

The bottom line for the college and me is that we remain focused on our core objective—providing a world-class business education to our more than 5,000 students. While the University finds its balance, conducts its internal reviews, and the legal system does its job, the business of business education at Smeal must, and does, go on.

I am meeting immediately with our deans, department heads, and program managers to assess how all of this will impact us, where we need to be concerned, and how we need to move forward if there are problems. I meet with all of our staff on Monday.

We have one of the most-respected business faculties in the world, a passionate and professional staff, and our students are No. 1 among recruiters. Our family is strong. We will be working harder than ever to ensure that this remains the case.

Best regards,

Jim '74

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