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Dave and Susan Marcinek create University’s first early career professorship to support faculty diversity

September 13, 2021

By Anne Louise Cropp

Dave and Susan Marcinek
Susan and Dave Marcinek said they hope their gift will inspire others to join them in their efforts to create an expansive and representative community of faculty and students at Smeal and Penn State. (Photo by Gregg Richards)
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Penn State alumnus David “Dave" Marcinek and his wife, Susan, have made a $500,000 commitment to create the David and Susan Marcinek Early Career Professorship in the Smeal College of Business.

Reflecting the couple’s personal commitment to increasing diversity, equity, and inclusion at Penn State, the Marcinek Early Career Professorship is the University’s first early career professorship to encourage faculty diversity.

Early Career Professorships provide financial resources for junior faculty members to actively undertake research that can form the foundation of a successful academic career. These positions can also sustain their growth as educators by providing flexible funding for curricular development.

The Marcineks’ commitment will leverage a $100,000 match from the University as part of the University’s Faculty Endowment Challenge, creating an initial book value of $600,000.

“We have taken a number of steps to support and encourage diversity at Smeal, and the Marcineks’ gift will play an important role in our ongoing work,” said Smeal College of Business Dean Charles H. Whiteman. “I am grateful to Dave and Susan for their visionary support, and I look forward to welcoming additional diverse faculty members to Smeal.”

Dave Marcinek graduated from Penn State with a degree in finance in 1993. After earning his MBA at Columbia University in 1998, he joined Goldman Sachs in New York. Prior to retiring as partner in 2016, he served as co-head of the Financial Institutions Financing Group for the Americas in the Investment Banking Division and co-head of the insurance sector for the Americas. He is currently chairman and senior managing director of Venerable Holdings, a privately held insurance holding company, formed in 2018, which owns and manages variable annuity business acquired from other insurers.  

He is a former member of the Smeal Board of Visitors and is currently co-chair of Smeal’s Finance Advisory Board.

Susan Marcinek earned her undergraduate degree from Duquesne University in 1994, an MBA from New York University’s Stern School of Business in 2002, and a master of library & information science from Pratt Institute in 2013. She is currently chair of the board of the Brooklyn Public Library and is a member of the board at Berkeley Carroll School, a private PreK-12 school in Brooklyn, where the Marcineks reside with their two children.

“Part of the call for racial justice that intensified last summer is about the need for more representation, agency, and resources at all levels of society,” Dave Marcinek said. “We believe that’s critically important at Smeal because the college produces two things in significant quantity that benefit from diversity of thought: research and graduates who make an impact on the world.”

Susan Marcinek further explained the goal of the couple’s gift.

“There is an urgent need for dismantling structural barriers of entry into academia as well as within it,” she added. “Our gift to Penn State is not going to solve the problem, but we hope it serves as a catalyst and builds momentum for others to contribute and seek further solutions.”

According to Whiteman, Smeal’s work to use its influence as a global business leader to drive change is just beginning.

“Smeal students see business as way to make the world a better place,” Whiteman said. “Our work to prepare them to create an inclusive, just, and sustainable economy through business is an ongoing process. The Marcinek Early Career Professorship is just one way we can demonstrate our commitment to a diverse and vibrant community where everyone is welcome and encourage our students to do the same in their professional lives.”

Susan Marcinek said she has witnessed the integral role of a diverse community of faculty through her board work at Berkeley Carroll School.

“It is invaluable and essential for students of color of any age to see themselves reflected in their teachers. That’s a big part of why this is so important to us,” she said.

The Marcineks, who said they were encouraged by Dean Whiteman and the entire Smeal community in their commitment to addressing diversity issues, felt faculty support was the one area where they could make a broad, lasting change.

“If you think about the profound influence a singular faculty member can have on generations of students, coupled with a lifetime of research from a diverse perspective that gets published and recognized globally, that exponentially expands the reach of this effort,” Dave Marcinek said.

The Marcineks said they hope their gift will inspire others to join them in their efforts to create an expansive and representative community of faculty and students.

“If the racial reckoning we are experiencing has prompted individuals to examine our systems and our responsibility within them,” Dave Marcinek said, “I hope they are compelled to take thoughtful action.”

This gift will advance "A Greater Penn State for 21st Century Excellence," a focused campaign that seeks to elevate Penn State’s position as a leading public university in a world defined by rapid change and global connections. With the support of alumni and friends, “A Greater Penn State” seeks to fulfill the three key imperatives of a 21st century public university: keeping the doors to higher education open to hardworking students regardless of financial well-being; creating transformative experiences that go beyond the classroom; and impacting the world by serving communities and fueling discovery, innovation and entrepreneurship. To learn more about “A Greater Penn State for 21st Century Excellence,” visit greaterpennstate.psu.edu.

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