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Robert and Suzanne Davidow give $100,000 gift to support Smeal’s sustainability efforts

Smeal College of Business MBA Student Competes in 2016 Sustainability Case Competition

(From Penn State News - January 11, 2018)

The Smeal College of Business has received a $100,000 gift from alumnus Robert Davidow and his wife, Suzanne, to create the Davidow Excellence in Sustainability Fund.

“Rob and Suzanne have been passionate advocates for solutions to some of the most critical global sustainability challenges, with a particular interest in water insecurity,” said Michelle Houser, senior director of development and alumni relations. “This generous new commitment will extend their legacy of support for these critical issues.”

Under the leadership of Charles H. Whiteman, the John and Becky Surma Dean of Smeal, sustainability has become a strategic priority for the college. This is evident throughout Smeal, from efforts to achieve LEED-EB (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design-Existing Building) gold-level certification for the Business Building, to leadership of the annual national MBA Sustainability Case Competition, to participation in the Beaver Stadium Zero Waste Program, to the strategic choice to hire a dedicated director of sustainability.

“The world is becoming more focused on conserving the environment, and Smeal has recognized this trend and integrated it into its studies,” Rob Davidow said. “Business fundamentals are of paramount importance for today’s students, but when you combine that with sustainability, you can have a powerful social impact. It’s important for the University to encourage and teach sustainable business practices, and I am excited to watch Smeal collaborate with other departments at Penn State to develop unique strategies to the business challenges arising from a growing populace.”

Smeal hired Erik Foley as director of sustainability in November 2015. Foley noted the growing shift in business trends, as businesses focus not just on the financial bottom line, but the social and environmental bottom line as well.

“Sustainability offers a way to identify the risks and opportunities in this new ‘triple bottom line’ and, therefore, the way we educate students needs to include this critical skillset and mindset,” he said. “One way we will address how we prepare students to be leaders in sustainable business practice is through the creation of a Center for the Business of Sustainability. The Davidows’ gift has allowed for conversations with our Sustainability Advisory Board around the center’s creation and will lay the groundwork for the support we’ll need to launch the center.”

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