You are here: Home / News Release Archives / 2014 / July / Penn State President Emeritus Rodney Erickson Joins Smeal Executive MBA Students in Celebration

Penn State President Emeritus Rodney Erickson Joins Smeal Executive MBA Students in Celebration

About 30 students celebrated their completion of the Penn State Smeal Executive MBA Program last month in a pre-commencement ceremony held at the Business Building on Penn State’s University Park campus, with former University president Rodney Erickson delivering the commencement speech.
July 25, 2014
Penn State President Emeritus Rodney Erickson Joins Smeal Executive MBA Students in Celebration

Photo courtesy of Stephanie Errigo

About 30 students celebrated their completion of the Penn State Smeal Executive MBA Program last month in a pre-commencement ceremony held at the Business Building on Penn State’s University Park campus, with former University president Rodney Erickson delivering the commencement speech.

Erickson talked about the transformative power of education in his life, from his roots in rural Wisconsin to the presidency of one of the world’s largest universities. He also emphasized the importance of having a strong set of core values to guide decision-making.

"Remember that you will always serve best by making your decisions based on integrity, ethics, and taking responsibility.”

“As future business leaders, you will undoubtedly face your own zigs and zags, and people will be relying on you to make difficult choices,” Erickson told the class of 2014. “At those moments, let your education and, even more importantly, your core values guide you. Remember that you will always serve best by making your decisions based on integrity, ethics, and taking responsibility.”

Michelle Palmer, the class of 2014 valedictorian, reflected on Erickson’s speech, expressing appreciation for his participation in the ceremony.

“What I recall most vividly from Dr. Erickson was how genuine and open he was, both before the ceremony and during the speech itself,” said Palmer. “His speech got me thinking about really living life up to the end.”

Palmer, who works as the area director of senior living for Bayada Home Health Care, has a strong background in the medical profession with an undergraduate degree in biology and a master’s in physical therapy. As her career evolved, so did her interest in the organizational aspects of her work.

“I found myself drawn to opportunities and challenges around strategy, operations, organizational dynamics, and leadership—areas of interest that I was exposed to more frequently as my career developed,” Palmer said. “I chose to pursue my EMBA to expand my knowledge base and skill sets to improve my ability to make a meaningful contribution to those that I work with and for at my company.”

“It was such a great feeling of shared accomplishment and acknowledgement of what we had all just achieved.”

Through the 21-month program, the cohort of students faced a number of challenges, including balancing work and home life with a rigorous academic program. But in the end, the feeling of accomplishment that Palmer describes was shared among members of the class.

“At the end of our last class with Al Vicere [professor of strategic leadership], everyone stood up and started clapping for each other,” said Palmer. “It was such a great feeling of shared accomplishment and acknowledgement of what we had all just achieved.”

At the pre-commencement ceremony, the graduating class shared that feeling with their family and friends.

As Erickson said in his closing remarks to the class, “Even though you’ll be working hard in your new endeavors … sharing success with those we love is always much more meaningful.”

About the Smeal Executive MBA Program
The Penn State Smeal Executive MBA Program provides working professionals with the learning, connections, resources, and experiences to accelerate their careers. The 21-month program features personalized executive coaching, intensive communication training, a weeklong international residency experience, and coursework focused on the unique challenges of the students’ firms. Classes are held on alternating weekends at the ACE Conference Center in suburban Philadelphia. Learn more at www.smeal.psu.edu/execmba.

Recent News
Deysher Named Alumni Fellow by Penn State Alumni Association 27 Oct

Bryon Deysher, a 1977 graduate of the Penn State Smeal College of Business, was one of 21 Penn State alumni recognized in early October as Alumni Fellow by the Penn State Alumni Association. Deysher is president and chief executive officer of Methods Machine Tools, Inc. and a member of the Smeal Board of Visitors.

Price-Fixing Whistleblower and FBI Informant To Deliver Shoemaker Lecture at Penn State 15 Oct

Mark Whitacre, the corporate whistleblower who revealed price fixing at Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) and spent more than eight years in federal prison for tax evasion and fraud, will deliver a lecture entitled “When Good Leaders Lose Their Way” from 6 to 7:15 p.m. on Nov. 6 in 100 Thomas Building on the Penn State University Park campus.

Penn State Executive Programs Receives Gold Award for Junior Achievement Partnership 14 Oct

For its work with Junior Achievement USA, Penn State Executive Programs has won Chief Learning Officer magazine's highest executive education partnership award. The 2014 Gold award for Excellence in Academic Partnerships recognizes academic institutions that have partnered in the past year with an organization to teach its employees about a key business issue.

Urban Outfitters, Inc. Chief Development Officer Discusses Leadership and Challenges, Opportunities in the Fashion Retail Industry 10 Oct

David Ziel, chief development officer of Urban Outfitters, Inc., spoke to a full audience in the Struthers Auditorium of the Business Building today, as part of the college’s Executive Insights series.

Urban Outfitters, Inc. Chief Development Officer David Ziel to Speak at Smeal Leadership Lecture Series 01 Oct

David Ziel, chief development officer of Urban Outfitters, Inc. will share his perspectives on business and leadership with the Penn State Smeal College of Business on Friday, October 10. His visit is part of the college’s Executive Insights series and the Melvin Jacobs Retail Leadership Lecture Series.

More Recent News... More Recent News...