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Penn State Smeal MBA program's Net Impact chapter granted gold standing

July 12, 2013

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. (July 12, 2013) -- The Penn State Smeal College of Business MBA Program’s Net Impact student organization has been awarded Gold standing by the Net Impact network, an honor granted this year to only 24 percent of the 300 chapters worldwide.

Penn State Net Impact is an organization that focuses on a collaborative learning environment dedicated to having a positive impact on business through social responsibility and sustainability.

"As future business leaders, it's important to understand the role businesses play in our environment."

“As future business leaders, it’s important to understand the role businesses play in our environment,” said Penn State Net Impact President Marcus Cullen, a second-year MBA student. “Consumers are starting to pay attention, and retailers are incorporating sustainability into their brands, putting more pressure on businesses up the chain.”

Gold and silver standings are determined through a rigorous set of requirements based on activities, programming, and membership reach. Penn State Net Impact’s activities for the 2012-13 academic year included discussion panels on topics like microfinance and corporate sustainability and involved leaders from companies such as Alcoa, Siemens, and the Hershey Company.

Other highlights included a behind-the-scenes tour of Penn State’s recycling and composting program and attendance at the National Net Impact Conference in Baltimore.

The Net Impact group’s major project for the next academic year will involve working with the Sustainability Institute to look at how the college is communicating its efforts in sustainability, as well as how disparate efforts across campus can be brought together in a more cohesive way.

“We also want to look at how to brand what Smeal is doing in the sustainability arena,” said Cullen.

Other events already planned for next year include tours of the Happy Valley Vineyard and Winery, which strives to make its business sustainable and energy-efficient, and the TerraCycle lab in New Jersey, where waste is upcycled into innovative products. The group also plans to attend the national conference in San Jose, Calif.

An undergraduate chapter of Net Impact just formed for Smeal students in the 2012-13 academic year; in their first year, they achieved Silver standing.

The active Net Impact chapters are just one example of Smeal’s commitment to sustainability. At the end of last year, Smeal’s Dean Charles Whiteman signed and approved a sustainability strategic plan, laying out actionable steps toward integrating sustainability more fully into the business curriculum, promoting sustainability research, and facilitating sustainable behavior in its students, faculty, and staff. Smeal’s Sustainability Council, made up of 19 faculty members, oversees these efforts.

Read more about Smeal’s sustainability efforts at the Smeal Sustainability Council webpage.

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