Collaboration with industry shapes 25 years of Center for Supply Chain Research

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- The Penn State Smeal College of Business Center for Supply Chain Research (CSCR) celebrated its 25th anniversary at its spring 2014 Corporate Sponsor meeting, held at the end of April at the Penn Stater Hotel and Conference Center.

The Corporate Sponsorship Program aims to create comprehensive research and education partnerships between the University and industry-leading firms with the center as the integral link.

Corporate Sponsor meetings, held twice annually at Penn State’s University Park campus, exemplify the CSCR’s close connection with industry. They offer faculty and corporate representatives an opportunity to discuss the industry’s most current issues and find points of collaboration to address pressing challenges.

“Our Corporate Sponsors help us focus our efforts in ways that will best help us accomplish our mission as a bridge between academia and industry.”

-- William "Skip" Grenoble, executive director, Center for Supply Chain Research

One of the primary topics of discussion was the fall 2014 Supply Chain Leaders Forum, an invitation-only program that facilitates peer-to-peer discussions among supply chain executives around current supply chain management issues. This forum, slated for early September, will focus on supply chain visibility and alignment.

The center also sought input on its strategic plan. The University — including all its colleges and various administrative units — is currently undergoing this extensive planning process to identify goals, initiatives and points of focus for the next five years.

“It has always been incredibly important that we stay on the forefront of what’s happening in industry,” said William "Skip" Grenoble, the center’s executive director. “Our Corporate Sponsors help us focus our efforts in ways that will best help us accomplish our mission as a bridge between academia and industry.”

The close connection between faculty in the CSCR and top executives in the supply chain industry is critical to the research center’s mission, Grenoble says, and CSCR Director of Research Christopher W. Craighead agrees.

“There are two primary purposes for research: one is to advance the academic conversation by building new knowledge, and the other is to disseminate this new knowledge for improvement of industry,” said Craighead, Rothkopf Professor of Supply Chain Management. “We do both of these better when we have extensive engagement with corporate representatives.”

“Industry input helps keep us on the cutting edge of providing world class supply chain education."

-- Robert Novack, associate professor of business logistics

The benefits, however, don’t stop with research. Corporate Sponsors also have a unique opportunity to impact student supply chain curriculum by providing feedback on the preparation that they see in the students they hire for internships and full-time positions.

“Industry input helps keep us on the cutting edge of providing world class supply chain education,” said Robert Novack, associate professor of business logistics. “Because we have such a close connection with many of the most active hiring firms of our students, we’re really able to keep our ear to the ground as to what our students do well and what curricular adjustments may be required in the future, based on changes in the industry.”

Attendees of the anniversary celebration dinner, held the evening before the daylong Corporate Sponsor meeting, had the unique opportunity to hear from the center’s founder, John Coyle; current executive director Grenoble; and the incoming executive director, Steve Tracey, who will take the helm later this summer as Grenoble retires.

“So much has changed in the industry since the beginning of the center 25 years ago,” said Grenoble. “It’s been a privilege to work with the center from the beginning, first under John Coyle [professor emeritus of business administration and director of corporate sponsors for CSCR] and later as executive director.”

Tracey added, “It’s truly an honor to follow in the footsteps of two individuals who are so accomplished in their profession and to be a part of such a robust logistics and supply chain tradition. I’m really looking forward to joining the supply chain team at Penn State.”

About the Center for Supply Chain Research
The Center for Supply Chain Research is one of the nation’s leading institutions dedicated to research and education in the supply chain field. The center’s mission is to be a leading source of supply chain knowledge creation and dissemination. Working in conjunction with faculty members from various academic areas, the center conducts research in areas such as distribution, warehousing, transportation, procurement and supply, customer service, systems modeling and design, logistics information systems, global logistics, and more. Learn more at

Last Updated June 08, 2014