Budget officer Smith to retire after 37 years of service to Penn State

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — University Budget Officer Rachel E. Smith, who has served in that position since 2011 and worked for the University for her entire career, recently announced that she would retire at the end of 2016. The decision to retire, she admits, still hasn’t sunk in.

“I think I’m still in shock,” Smith said of her impending retirement. “I don’t know what it feels like not to come to work, or not to be working at Penn State. I’ve never worked anywhere else, and I’ve never wanted to.”

Smith will leave Penn State after more than 37 years of continuous service to the University. She first joined the staff of the Office of Personnel Administration in 1979, conducting employment testing for University job applicants. She worked in the College of Engineering from 1981 to 1991 and was a human resources assistant in the dean’s office for more than six of those years. Since 1991, Smith has served in various and increasingly responsible roles within Penn State's finance and business operations. She assumed the role of university budget officer, reporting to the Office of the Executive Vice President and Provost, in 2011 after Steve Curley retired from the position.

Smith’s expertise and tenure at Penn State have enabled her to oversee and manage a staff responsible for developing, implementing, and controlling Penn State's annual operating budget. The always-complex process has been even more challenging in recent years due to uncertainties related to annual financial appropriations from the Commonwealth. Smith, however, takes those and other challenges in stride.

“It’s easy for me to advocate for state funding and other financial support because I know firsthand the positive impact that Penn State has on the lives of countless people in Pennsylvania and beyond,” Smith said. “This institution continues to grow and deliver on its promises of outstanding teaching, research, and service. When you believe strongly in your employer’s values and goals, as I do, the work doesn’t feel like work. All along, I’ve just wanted to do my part to make a meaningful difference.”

In addition to working for Penn State, she also studied at the University. She earned her associate of science degree in business administration and bachelor of science degree in accounting, with high distinction, from the Smeal College of Business in 1988 and 1990, respectively. She went on to earn her master of education degree in higher education from the College of Education in 1999.

Ask anyone who has ever studied or worked with Smith about her commitment to excellence, and you’ll quickly learn how much people will miss her.

“Penn State has been very fortunate to have Rachel spend her entire career here," said Nicholas P. Jones, Penn State’s executive vice president and provost. "Her work has played a vital role in the University's growth during the past four decades, and her leadership, knowledge, dedication, and tenacious work ethic have helped Penn State manage significant economic downturns and much more. During the past five years as university budget officer, and for many years before that, Rachel has served the University with great skill and integrity. She is an extraordinary person, and we are grateful to have had the opportunity to work with her.”

A nationwide search is already under way to fill Smith’s position. Andrew Reisinger, Penn State director for budget and reporting, will serve as interim university budget officer until the position is filled.

In retirement, Smith and her husband, Bill, plan to travel and spend time with family and friends. She may not miss the days of working tirelessly on complicated Excel spreadsheets, but she will miss Penn State and its people.

“It’s been a pleasure and honor to serve this University for so long,” Smith said. “I’m grateful to have worked with so many exceptional people over the years.”

Last Updated December 15, 2016