Happy New Year! We hope that 2021 is off to a great start for you all! The Penn State system will launch all classes in remote-only instruction through February 15 to mitigate the risks of the COVID-19 pandemic. At the Black School of Business, we continue to thrive despite conditions outside our control in the world around us.
This newsletter will highlight much of the great work taking place over the past several months with a focus on professional development. More than ever, our students benefit from professional guidance. An unexpected benefit of the pandemic has been the conversion of our former Corporate Days into Corporate Spotlights, which has led to greater opportunities for top companies to visit with our students in a virtual environment. Post-pandemic, our plans are to continue this process.
We thank each of you for your support of our programs!
Dr. Greg Filbeck, CFA, FRM, CAIA, CIPM, FDP, PRM
Director, Black School of Business
Samuel P. Black III Professor of Finance and Risk Management
Focus on Professional Development Expands
For the 2020-2021 school year, we converted our previous Corporate Days into Corporate Spotlights, which feature hour-long online corporate presentations and Q-and-As with Black School of Business students, including those in programs in our majors through Penn State World Campus. The fall semester featured six Corporate Spotlights: Wesco on September 10, Manning & Napier on September 15, Erie Insurance on September 29, Vanguard on October 6, Campbell’s Soup Company on October 15, and Amazon on October 19.
Three academic majors held daylong “major days,” featuring presentations and panel discussions related to careers within that discipline. The third annual Accounting Day was held on September 10 featuring representatives from regional accounting firms on subjects ranging from interview tips to professional networking. The third annual Finance Day was held on October 14 with topics including traditional banking, tips on getting started, investment management, interviews and resumes, financial planning, corporate finance, and alternative investments.
On November 4, the Black School of Business offered the first Project and Supply Chain Management Day, a virtual event that gave students an opportunity to explore careers in project and supply chain management. Multiple online sessions were offered, including those focused on the role of a project manager, tips for building a solid résumé, and guidance for new job seekers.
“Many of our corporate partners and advisory board members, faculty, and students participated to make the event a great success,” said Dr. Ray Venkataraman, department chair for Project and Supply Chain Management. “Executive leaders from both the project management and supply chain management disciplines, in addition to sharing with our students their work experiences, provided invaluable advice to our students regarding the skill sets required to succeed in the corporate world.”
Professional Development Spotlights and Mentoring Programs
Three professional development spotlights were held during the fall semester. Our Innovation through Collaboration (ITC) Project Awareness seminar was held for students on October 22. ITC projects pair Corporate Partners with a project team that consists of one to two faculty experts and two to three students to solve business challenges.
Global Awareness spotlight was held on November 11, in which students were able to learn about global opportunities available to them, explore ways of adding global experiences to their resume, and the hear about the value of taking international business courses while in college. Guest speakers included Dr. Lena Surzhko-Harned, assistant teaching professor of political science; Jason Turkovic, president of the International Business Club; Dylan Free, representative for the Multi-Cultural Club; Andy Herrera, director of Educational Equity and Diversity Programs; Dr. Bill Johnson, associate professor of management; and Dr. Jeff Coy, assistant professor of finance.
A professionalism spotlight, held on November 12, focused on protocols to follow in the recruiting process, including research and follow-ups.
The Black School of Business runs five mentoring programs available for Black School of Business students: Professional Mentoring (alumni to students), Academic Mentoring (upperclassmen to underclassmen), Cross-Cultural Mentoring (pairing individuals from different cultures), C3W (women’s leadership training), and Management Information System (MIS) major mentoring through executives at U. S. Steel.
Robbins Receives Coveted Teaching Award
Eric Robbins, assistant professor of finance in the Black School of Business, received the 2020 UPCEA Mid-Atlantic Region Excellence in Teaching Award in October. An active faculty member who started teaching for Penn State in 2013, Robbins teaches classes in the Black School of Business as well as in the online bachelor’s degree in finance program through Penn State World Campus. Robbins is known for his interactive teaching style and engagement through clubs, speaker series, and special events, including trips to New York and Chicago.
Renowned Business Leadership Symposium Moves to Virtual Mode
The annual Business Leadership Symposium was offered virtually to students November 1-15 in the form of a self-paced course. This event, which delves into the realm of leadership, creating a personal brand, the impact of unconscious bias, and diversity and inclusion, featured interactive sessions and videos by experts in a wide range of fields, along with personal leadership and personality assessments, including the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator.
Junior Achievement Virtual Speaker Series Enhances Online Education
With schools implementing more virtual programming, Junior Achievement is adapting to the new education landscape. Dr. Greg Filbeck, director of the Black School of Business; Phil Stuczynski, lecturer in business; and Behrend student Grace Blackford were featured in the J.A. Virtual Speaker Series, geared toward students in grades 6-12. The goal of the series is to educate students on a variety of industries in the Pittsburgh region as well as the professionals who work in those industries. Access the full playlist.
Intrieri Family Student-Managed Fund Approaches One Million Dollars
A fund drive launched in fall 2019 targets a goal of $1 million for the Intrieri Family Student-Managed Fund. Once this level is achieved, a scholarship program for students involved with the fund will be launched. The value of the fund as of January 15 stood at $950,021. Black School of Business students learn through experiences such as managing the Intrieri Family Student-Managed Fund supported by stakeholders who take an active interest in the success of tomorrow's business leaders. Your gift to Penn State Behrend helps enhance important initiatives for our business students, including:
- growing the Fund to $1 million, which then will fund student scholarships (donate here).
- providing assistance for students pursuing their professional certifications and designations or supporting an academic program (donate here).
Behrend Honored by Junior Achievement of Western Pennsylvania
Penn State Behrend was honored as the Outstanding Contributing Company at the Junior Achievement of Western Pennsylvania’s 2020 Celebrating Success event, which took place virtually on November 5. Congratulations as well to Dr. Greg Filbeck, director of the Black School of Business, who was named Outstanding Board Member. The Black School of Business also received the Innovation Award. Junior Achievement of Western Pennsylvania helps deliver educational programs centered on workforce development, entrepreneurship, and financial literacy to school children in kindergarten through 12th grade through evidence-based, volunteer-driven courses. Learn more about J.A.'s impact.
Black School of Business Faculty Collaborates on Multi-Year Grant
Dr. Matthew Swinarski, associate professor of management, and colleagues Dr. Faisal Aqlan, associate professor of industrial engineering; Dr. Qi Dunsworth, director of teaching initiatives for the Centers for Teaching and eLearning Initiatives; Dr. Chetan Nikhare, associate professor of mechanical engineering; and Dr. Mohammad Rasouli, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering, have been awarded a $300,000, three-year National Science Foundation grant. This interdisciplinary team will work on improving manufacturing education by helping undergraduate students develop a system view of manufacturing.
Other Recent Highlights
- Jeff Stempka, senior associate marketing manager at Campbell's, becomes newest Executive in Residence
- Seventeen students awarded CFA Institute University Affiliation Program Scholarship
- Eric Brotherson, director of business intelligence at Erie Federal Credit Union and MIS program advisory board member, named to Erie Reader's 2020 top 40 Under 40 list
- Jacqueline Masek DiPlacido '18 M.B.A puts degree to work helping build part-time business