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Woods endow Penn State Smeal scholarship to encourage diversity in actuarial science

May 19, 2021

Candace and Rick Woods
Rick and Candace Woods, who met at Penn State and return often to Happy Valley, said their Penn State educations had an incredible impact on their lives.
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Penn State alumni Candace and Richard “Rick” Woods have made a $250,000 commitment to endow the Candace J. and Richard A. Woods Scholarship in the Penn State Smeal College of Business.

The need-based scholarship will be awarded to Smeal students who contribute to the diversity of the student body, with a preference for students who are majoring in actuarial science.

“Candace and Rick are both deeply committed to diversity in the workplace. Their gift will not only help encourage students who increase the diversity of our student body to attend Penn State, but it will also bring diversity to the actuarial science profession,” said Smeal College of Business Dean Charles H. Whiteman. “I am grateful for their generosity and for their commitment to providing more equitable access to the opportunities a Penn State education can offer.”

Candace Woods recalled that when she started her career in actuarial science in the 1980s, there were only a few women in the field.

“From my own experiences, I understand how important it is to have diversity of thought and diversity of talent in the profession,” she said.

“While there’s a much greater balance between men and women in the field now than when I first began my career, there are still underrepresented demographics. I’m proud to have joined Prudential’s effort to raise understanding of what actuarial science is through high school awareness programs. This scholarship is one more way that my husband and I can help.”

Rick Woods said that working for a Japanese-owned insurance company gives him the opportunity to see how diversity of thought plays out each day.

“Diversity in the workplace truly enhances the culture of an organization. Candace and I both feel strongly about providing opportunities to help deserving students prepare for a career in actuarial science and ultimately add value to their organizations,” he said.

Candace, a member of the Smeal Board of Visitors, graduated in 1982 from the Eberly College of Science with a degree in mathematics. She joined Prudential in 1982 and has spent her nearly 40-year professional career with the firm. In 2017, she was named to her current position as senior vice president and chief actuary. She oversees all actuarial functions across the company and reports to the Prudential Board on actuarial matters. She is also the appointed actuary of the Prudential Insurance Company of America.

Rick graduated in 1983 from Smeal with a degree in business. He spent nearly 30 years with Hanover Insurance, and joined Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance Group in 2012. He is currently vice president and national claims operation manager for its U.S. operation.

The Woods said they met at Penn State and return to campus frequently to attend football games and revisit memorable locations such as North Halls, where they lived, and the Tavern Restaurant, where they had their first date.

Both worked while in college to help pay for their education and had student loans to pay back after graduation.

Rick said that he was excited to be able to help deserving students achieve their educational goals.

“Actuarial science is a challenging course of study, and I’ve seen firsthand how much work is required to prepare for a career in this profession. I’m glad we are able to help,” he said.

Candace said that their Penn State educations had an incredible impact on their lives.

“I feel very strongly about education. For me, Penn State gave me the tools to be successful in my profession. The foundation students receive at Penn State can ground them for the rest of their lives, and Rick and I are happy to help,” she said.   

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 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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