Smeal students to host diversity conference

University Park, Pa. -  Business leaders from Altria, ConocoPhillips, Kohl's Department Stores, and Procter & Gamble will join students, faculty and administrators from the Penn State Smeal College of Business on March 22 to discuss business initiatives in diversity at the 12th annual START Conference.

The conference, organized by Smeal students, kicks off at 11:15 a.m. at the Nittany Lion Inn on Penn State's University Park campus. The event is free and open to all Penn State students, faculty and staff. Attendees should register for the event online.

The keynote speaker is Phil Smith, vice president and district manager for Kohl's Department Stores. Following the keynote address, the winners of the START Diversity Award Competition will deliver their winning presentations. The students were chosen by the START Committee after submitting an abstract and presenting before the committee.

The agenda also features breakout sessions titled "Diversity in Volunteerism," "Recruiting Diverse Talent: It's a Business Strategy," and "Supplier Diversity: The Secret Agent Behind Delivery Business Value."

In addition to addressing diversity issues, the START Conference gives students the opportunity to network with corporate representatives, explore career paths, and learn about the corporate climates of participating companies.

The first START (Striving Toward Awareness and Respect for Tomorrow) Conference was established in 1999 by a group of Smeal students who recognized the need for open dialogue with professional and corporate leaders to create a more productive and respectful work environment. Since its inception, the START Conference has grown to become an annual Smeal tradition, attracting partnerships with some of today's leading companies.

This year's event has received corporate support from Altria, Boeing, ConocoPhillips, Ernst & Young, Kohl's Department Stores, Procter & Gamble, Shell, and Target.

The complete conference agenda is available online at

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Last Updated March 08, 2011