Laura Rothkopf endows early career professorship in supply chain

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Laura L. Rothkopf, widow of Michael H. Rothkopf, Smeal Chaired Professor of Supply Chain and Information Systems, has committed $334,000 to establish the Michael H. and Laura L. Rothkopf Early Career Professorship in Supply Chain Management in the Penn State Smeal College of Business. With matching funds from the Penn State Faculty Endowment Challenge, the total endowment is worth $500,000.

"Mike was passionate about education and supporting students and young, promising faculty," said James B. Thomas, the John and Becky Surma Dean of Smeal. "Though he left us four years ago, his legacy will always be felt at the college and in the operations research field. I'm so thankful that Laura has decided to honor the love she has for Mike by supporting his love for education at Smeal. It is truly a fitting way to remember a great scholar and person."

Michael Rothkopf joined Smeal in 2007 after spending 19 years on the faculty at Rutgers University, where his teaching and research interests focused on applied mathematical modeling, auctions, applications of operations research, and energy models. Prior to joining Rutgers, Rothkopf was on the faculty at the University of California, Berkeley, and he worked on the research staff for Xerox and Shell.

He served as president of the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences and as vice president of the Institute of Management Sciences. From 1993 to 2000, he was editor-in-chief of Interfaces. He also served as a council member of the Operations Research Society of America and as a member of the International Association of Energy Economists and the American Economic Association.

Rothkopf held a bachelor's degree in mathematics from Pomona College and a master's degree in industrial management and a doctorate in operations research from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He died Feb. 18, 2008.

The Rothkopf Early Career Professorship will be used to support outstanding supply chain faculty who are in the first 10 years of their academic career. Rotating to a new faculty member every three years, the fund will allow Smeal's dean to recruit and retain rising academic stars by providing additional funds for research projects and course development. The first recipient of the Rothkopf Early Career Professorship is Christopher Craighead.

The Penn State Faculty Endowment Challenge offers donors an opportunity to leverage a 1:2 match from the University for gifts creating new Early Career Professorships in any of Penn State’s academic units. Such endowments typically require a minimum commitment of $500,000, but through the Faculty Endowment Challenge, donors may establish new Early Career Professorships for any of the University’s colleges or campuses with a commitment of $334,000. The University will commit the remaining one third of the necessary funds, approximately $166,000, from unrestricted endowment resources.

Faculty support is a top priority of For the Future: The Campaign for Penn State Students. This University-wide effort is directed toward a shared vision of Penn State as the most comprehensive, student-centered research university in America. The University is engaging Penn State's alumni and friends as partners in achieving six key objectives: ensuring student access and opportunity, enhancing honors education, enriching the student experience, building faculty strength and capacity, fostering discovery and creativity, and sustaining the University's tradition of quality. The campaign's top priority is keeping a Penn State degree affordable for students and families. The For the Future campaign is the most ambitious effort of its kind in Penn State's history, with the goal of securing $2 billion by 2014.

For more information on the For the Future campaign, visit


Media Contacts: 
Last Updated March 22, 2012