IBM the first founding member of Smeal Center for the Business of Sustainability

September 25, 2019

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Penn State Smeal College of Business Director of Sustainability Erik Foley has announced that IBM has agreed to be the first founding member of the college’s Center for the Business of Sustainability.

When fully funded, the center will enable Smeal to cultivate the best practices and leaders that enable corporations to implement multidimensional, scalable business solutions by considering new and exciting approaches to business challenges, accounting for the social and environmental impact of decision-making.

Those overarching goals will be met by Smeal faculty conducting research; integrating leading-edge concepts into undergraduate and graduate curriculum; hosting events aimed at bringing together managers, executives, faculty and students; and partnering with investors, business managers, nongovernmental organizations and governments to host business plan competitions focused on market-based sustainable development solutions.

“We are excited and gratified that IBM is the first company to step up as a founding member and embrace our vision of the Center for the Business of Sustainability,” Foley said.

“IBM has long been a trusted partner with Smeal in our burgeoning sustainability efforts. From serving on our external Sustainability Advisory Board to adding expertise to multiple case competitions, IBM has walked with Smeal almost every step of the way in our sustainability journey.”

As a founding member, IBM will have access to sustainability focused research and education services that can help it manage and take advantage of its social and environmental risks, obligations and opportunities.

“IBM is pleased to become the first founding member of the Penn State business school's new Center for the Business of Sustainability," said Wayne Balta, vice president of corporate environmental affairs and product safety at IBM.

"The Smeal College of Business at Penn State has worked tirelessly to integrate sustainability considerations throughout both graduate and undergraduate teaching and research, and across all of the individual business disciplines in which students can major. Penn State's commitment to integrate this topic within its curricula reflects exactly what we endeavor to do in the business community every day."

Foley said Smeal’s Center for the Business of Sustainability hopes to eventually recruit 20 companies as founding members. The power of those partnerships, coupled with the collective research capability of Smeal’s faculty members, will enable the center to be a leader in the business of sustainability.

“The recent trend of sustainable business has produced a watered-down economic approach resulting in minimal returns for business, society and the environment,” Foley said.

“We intend to leverage our faculty research in concert with the latest industry trends our founding members can inform us about. Then, in collaboration with the Penn State Sustainability Institute, we will contribute to Penn State’s sustainability mission: a comprehensive integration of sustainability into the University’s teaching, research, outreach and operations that prepares students, staff and faculty to be sustainability leaders in their professional, personal and civic lives.”

Alumni and businesses that wish to learn more about Smeal’s sustainability efforts can visit Individuals and businesses who want to learn more about potential partnerships with the Center for the Business of Sustainability can call Foley at 814-863-1341 or email

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated September 25, 2019