UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Long before sustainability was synonymous with good business practice, Gerald Susman was spearheading efforts to weave it into the fabric of the Penn State Smeal College of Business.
In his former role as associate dean for research nearly a decade ago, Susman assessed the research interests of Smeal’s faculty and recognized sustainability as a consistent theme among his peers. To encourage research and collaboration on the topic, he helped create the Smeal Sustainability Council and the Sustainability Advisory Board.
Recognizing that employers were looking for graduates with an understanding of sustainability as part of a bigger picture, Smeal created a Sustainability Strategic Plan that was formally adopted by the college nearly five years ago. The plan outlined how Smeal would integrate sustainability into the undergraduate curriculum.
Under Susman’s leadership, sustainability has been infused into a variety of business courses, including a required course for all students, a two-piece elective sequence for undergraduates, and a concentration in the Smeal MBA Program.
To properly recognize Susman, Klein Professor Emeritus of Management, director emeritus of the Center for Management of Technological and Organizational Change, and director emeritus of the Sustainability Council, Smeal has chosen to honor his legacy and present him with the inaugural Susman Sustainability Leadership Award.
“This annual award will recognize and honor achievement in the area of sustainability and there is nobody who has had a bigger impact on our research or our teaching efforts in this area than Gerry. His efforts have created a wonderful legacy here and I am honored to name this award in his honor,” said Charles H. Whiteman, John and Becky Surma Dean of Smeal.
The award will recognize exceptional leadership in the advancement of sustainable business strategy, management, and practice. Awardees can be internal or external to Smeal.
“Gerry navigated our work from the early days of operational excellence to the current focus on strategy and innovation,” said Erik Foley, Smeal’s director of sustainability. “We are shifting our focus to the business of sustainability by considering new and exciting approaches to business challenges that account for the social and environmental impact of decision making. This is possible because of the terrific foundation Gerry has created.”