Alumna creates first Early Career Professorship in Hospitality Management

October 08, 2018

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Elizabeth M. King, a 1979 Penn State graduate with a degree in political science, has endowed the Elizabeth M. King Early Career Professorship in the School of Hospitality Management. The endowment—which will support promising faculty and promote innovative teaching and research—is the first early career professorship in the school, and it will be a powerful tool in recruiting and retaining the leading educators in the field.

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Elizabeth M. King, a 1979 Penn State graduate with a degree in political science, has endowed the Elizabeth M. King Early Career Professorship in the School of Hospitality Management. The endowment—which will support promising faculty and promote innovative teaching and research—is the first early career professorship in the school, and it will be a powerful tool in recruiting and retaining the leading educators in the field.

IMAGE: Provided

“When I was a student at Penn State, I was lucky to receive scholarship support,” King said. “Those gifts meant the world to me—not just because they helped to cover tuition, but because I knew someone was in my corner. Someone believed in me and saw my potential, and I want to pass on that same feeling.”

Originally from Bellefonte, Pennsylvania, King said she always knew she would go to Penn State. “Both my parents worked for the University, and I grew up going to Penn State football games and eating Creamery ice cream,” she said. “When it came time to pick a school, I just couldn’t imagine going anywhere else.” 

After graduation, however, King’s career sent her farther from home. She started her professional journey at Macy’s, where she first became interested in streamlining business processes through enhanced technology and data systems. She helped a number of companies integrate improved data processing, before she was recruited to Starbucks to assist in their implementation of point-of-sale technology. 

Last year, after 21 years at the corporation, King retired as Starbucks’ vice president of global HR solutions and services. 

“When I look back at my career with Starbucks, I hope that my legacy will be in the way that I helped to develop and mentor young talent,” King said. 

It was this focus on empowering young talent that led her to establish the King Early Career Professorship in Hospitality Management. 

“I first became involved in the College of Health and Human Development when I was asked to join a hospitality management advisory board 16 years ago,” King said. “I was immediately impressed by the caliber of students, faculty, and leadership.” 

Over the years, King has made a number of contributions to the college, including the establishment of the Elizabeth M. King Undergraduate Scholarship and the Kings Espresso Bar in Cafe Laura. 

“With this gift, I wanted to make an even bigger impact,” she said. “My hope is that the King Professorship will not only encourage the faculty who receive the award, but will also support the continued development of our students and our college.”

The King Early Career Professorship will reward early career faculty members with several years of discretionary funds they can use to create greater impact in their scholarship and teaching and build collaboration with graduate and undergraduate students into their work. 

In establishing her professorship, King was able to leverage University support through the Penn State Faculty Endowment Challenge, which creates partnerships between donors and Penn State in supporting emerging faculty of extraordinary promise. Through the challenge, donors receive a 25 percent match to reach the required endowment level. This match is available until the $3 million pool of funds has been assigned, up to a total of thirty early career professorships across the University.

“Elizabeth’s gift—the first of its kind for the School of Hospitality Management—is inspiring to our students, to our faculty, and to me personally,” said Donna Quadri-Felitti, Marvin Ashner Director of the School of Hospitality Management. “Elizabeth’s sustained support for Hospitality Management at Penn State through her gifts, her generous commitment of time, and her meaningful insights continue to positively impact the whole of our school. Her deep appreciation for the importance of faculty-student connections is evident in this energizing and significant endowment. I am excited to see how future generations of Penn State’s King Professors in Hospitality Management carry forward her vision of exemplary teaching, mentoring, and research in service to our industry. We are so lucky to have Elizabeth as a leader and friend.”

When asked about her legacy at Penn State, King recalled her years on the Penn State softball team. 

“When we would sing the alma mater, the line, ‘May our lives but swell thy fame,’ always resonated with me,” she said. “This is my opportunity to give back to Penn State and, hopefully, empower future generations of Penn Staters.”

This gift will advance "A Greater Penn State for Twenty-First Century Excellence," a focused campaign that seeks to elevate Penn State’s position as a leading public university in a world defined by rapid change and global connections. With the support of alumni and friends, “A Greater Penn State” seeks to fulfill the three key imperatives of a twenty-first-century public university: keeping the doors to higher education open to hardworking students regardless of financial well-being; creating transformative experiences that go beyond the classroom; and impacting the world by fueling discovery, innovation and entrepreneurship.

To learn more, visit greaterpennstate.psu.eduor contact Kathleen Rider, director of development in the College of Health and Human Development, at 814-863-1064 or kmr8@psu.edu.

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Last Updated October 25, 2018