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Alumni Gifts Impact Department of Management and Organization

Denny Gioia, chair of the M&O department, talks about the positive impact of recent donor gifts on his ability to recruit and retain students and provide cutting edge curriculum.
August 28, 2013

Alumni gifts make a transformative difference in the Penn State Smeal College of Business, and no one knows this better than Denny Gioia, chair of the Department of Management and Organization (M&O).

In the last five years, philanthropy has made it possible for Gioia and his colleagues to recruit and retain the best students and faculty in a very competitive market, as well as provide curriculum in response to student demand.

“Our donors have immensely improved our ability to serve students and help students financially, to retain our star faculty, to create new programs, and to target market needs that better prepare our students for their next steps. We couldn’t operate at a top ten level without them,” said Gioia.

“Our donors have immensely improved our ability to serve students and help students financially, to retain our star faculty, to create new programs, and to target market needs that better prepare our students for their next steps. We couldn’t operate at a top ten level without them."

Last fall, Smeal benefited from a gift of $5 million from an anonymous donor, a significant portion of which went directly to support the activities of the M&O Department. These endowments help M&O attract the very best undergraduates by providing scholarships to students with financial need who have demonstrated academic excellence. They also support his efforts to bring the best Ph.D. students to campus by generating the resources needed to offer compensation packages that allow Smeal to compete for elite candidates.

At the same time, offerings in entrepreneurship and innovation have seen much growth thanks to Michael J. Farrell, who in 1999 endowed the Farrell Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. Farrell recently has made a new commitment to the center that will create two new professorships, the Michael J. Farrell Endowed Professor of Entrepreneurship and the Michael J. Farrell Early Career Professor of Entrepreneurship. Farrell earned his bachelor’s degree in accounting and management information systems from Smeal in 1971.

According to Gioia, student demand for courses in entrepreneurship is rising tremendously, and the department has been able to meet that rising demand with more courses and the most qualified faculty.

“These funds give us so many resources for teaching and conducting programs for the benefit of students,” said Gioia. “We added four courses in entrepreneurship this year, and we plan on adding four more for next year. We were also able to recognize Tim Pollock as the new Farrell Professor of Entrepreneurship.”

Professorships are important because, according to Gioia, they allow the college to recognize faculty accomplishments and provide research funding, which not only keeps Smeal on the leading edge, but also improves the ability to retain top faculty.

All recent gifts have supported the Smeal College of Business in reaching 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.

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