Alumni Board Raises Scholarship Funds in Honor of Dean Thomas
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. (May 9, 2012) -- To recognize the service of James B. Thomas, the John and Becky Surma Dean of the Penn State Smeal College of Business, and his wife, Michele Thomas, the Smeal Alumni Society Board has raised $37,850 in contributions to its existing Smeal Alumni Society Board Trustee Scholarship.
The funds were contributed by Smeal Alumni Society Board at-large directors and volunteers. Andrew Giorgione, a board member who is a lawyer and lobbyist with Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney PC in Harrisburg, Pa., said the board decided that it wanted to do something to recognize Thomas' contributions to the college during his six-year tenure as dean.
"Dean Thomas has advanced the college to new levels by modernizing the curricula while focusing Smeal students on academic integrity and community," said Giorgione, a 1989 Smeal marketing alumnus. "During a time of budget cuts in higher education and increased scrutiny of business schools, in particular, Dean Thomas has refocused Smeal on providing students with a world-class education taught by scholars at the top of their fields. It's a fitting tribute to honor him with contributions to a Trustee Scholarship, which will help generations of students afford a Smeal education."
The Trustee Matching Scholarship Program maximizes the impact of private giving while directing funds to students as quickly as possible, meeting the urgent need for scholarship support. In this groundbreaking philanthropic model, Penn State matches 5 percent of the total pledge or gift at the time a Trustee Scholarship is created, making funds available immediately for student awards. This University match, which is approximately equal to the endowment's annual spendable income, continues in perpetuity, doubling the support available for students with financial need.
Thomas, the college's fifth dean, is stepping down to return to the Smeal faculty this summer. He will be succeeded by Charles H. Whiteman, who is currently senior associate dean for the Tippie College of Business at the University of Iowa.
Under Thomas' leadership, Smeal implemented a new strategic plan that focused the college's resources on one overarching goal: solidifying its position as one of the top public business schools in the nation. With an emphasis on four major themes—delivering extraordinary education, conducting research with impact, building a dialogue with society and fostering a community with distinction—Thomas' strategic vision included dozens of new initiatives and objectives to advance the college on several levels.
As part of this vision, Thomas led curricular restructurings in Smeal's undergraduate and MBA programs. He oversaw the addition of the master of professional studies in supply chain management and the master of accounting degree programs. He also directed a reorganization of the college's administration.
A mainstay of Thomas' tenure as dean has been his focus on promoting academic integrity. After the Smeal Honor Code originated in the MBA program, Thomas shepherded its implementation across all of the college's degree programs. He also worked with Smeal students and faculty to foster a culture of integrity as chair of Smeal's Academic Integrity Board.
Before becoming dean of Smeal in 2006, Thomas was the founding dean of Penn State's College of Information Sciences and Technology. He began his career in higher education at Smeal in 1987, starting as an assistant professor and eventually advancing to the position of senior associate dean.
The mission of Smeal's Alumni Society Board is to enhance the value and reputation of Smeal by cultivating a community of active, engaged alumni; building and maintaining forums for student and alumni interaction; and providing a meaningful connection between the college and alumni.
The contributions to the Smeal Alumni Society Board Trustee Scholarship in honor of Thomas will help the Smeal College of Business to reach its goals in For the Future: The Campaign for Penn State Students. This University-wide effort is directed toward a shared vision of Penn State as the most comprehensive, student-centered research university in America. The University is engaging Penn State's alumni and friends as partners in achieving six key objectives: ensuring student access and opportunity, enhancing honors education, enriching the student experience, building faculty strength and capacity, fostering discovery and creativity, and sustaining the University's tradition of quality. The campaign's top priority is keeping a Penn State degree affordable for students and families. The For the Future campaign is the most ambitious effort of its kind in Penn State's history, with the goal of securing $2 billion by 2014.
For more information on the For the Future campaign, visit giveto.psu.edu.