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Recent Graduate's Connection to Smeal Has Deep Roots

At this year’s Penn State Smeal College of Business commencement ceremony, one Smeal grad found out she had an even deeper connection to the college than she’d realized. Charise McClure's grandmother took college classes on Penn State's DuBois campus with Frank P. Smeal, who--along with his wife Mary Jean--later would make the generous gift to the business college naming it The Mary Jean and Frank P. Smeal College of Business.
July 25, 2013

Mary Jean and Frank P. Smeal
Mary Jean and Frank P. Smeal
At this year’s Penn State Smeal College of Business commencement ceremony, one Smeal grad found out she had an even deeper connection to the college than she’d realized.

Charise McClure, a finance grad now working with Johnson & Johnson, was walking across the stage when her grandmother, Janet Beezer, leaned over to Charise’s mother Diane McClure—also a Penn State alumna—and said that she used to be a classmate of Frank Smeal, Smeal College’s namesake, at Penn State’s DuBois campus.

Frank P. Smeal, who made numerous contributions to the University along with his wife Mary Jean, made a generous gift to the business college in 1990 to form The Mary Jean and Frank P. Smeal College of Business.

At the time, the Smeals’ gift of the college was the largest individual donation in the University’s history. It created five endowed chairs as well as a separate endowment for program excellence. Smeal was also instrumental in creating the Goldman Sachs & Co. and Frank P. Smeal University Endowed Fellowship in Business Administration.

“He was so quiet in our classes together; I guess we didn’t recognize he was a genius. He turned out to be a real success story.”

Smeal had a successful career on Wall Street, beginning at the Guaranty Trust Company, which later became part of Morgan Guaranty Trust. During his thirty-year career with the Wall Street firm, he advanced to executive vice president and treasurer and was instrumental in counseling New York City through its financial crises in the mid-1970s.

In 1977, Smeal left his post at Morgan Guaranty Trust for Goldman Sachs & Co., where he became partner and member of the company’s senior management committee, as well as managing director of the fixed-income department.

These were interesting times in DuBois, said Beezer. She remembers armed guards being stationed on a hill nearby the campus to watch for enemy airplanes.

She adds, “At night, we were supposed to have all our lights out, so we would put clothes over our light bulbs so we could still read.”

Beezer, who was born and raised in DuBois, shared a classroom with Smeal for English and Psychology classes.

According to Beezer, though the men in those days typically dressed casually for class, Smeal wore a black suit, white shirt, and black tie every day.

“He came from an exceptionally poor family,” said Beezer, “and he had to hitchhike every day from Sykesville to DuBois to get to class.”

Smeal’s dedication paid off. He graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Penn State’s main campus in 1942 and went on to earn an MBA from Harvard and a law degree from New York University.

“He was so quiet in our classes together; I guess we didn’t recognize he was a genius,” Beezer laughed. “He turned out to be a real success story.”

After a year and a half at the DuBois campus, Beezer was issued a temporary emergency teacher certification to teach business education at Luthersburg High School. Her teaching career continued, first at public schools for a total of six years, then onto the DuBois Business College, where she retired after 25 years of teaching. Beezer still resides in DuBois, Pa.

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