Mary Baldwin University announces today the creation of an endowed faculty chair, made possible by a $1 million contribution from Gordon and Mary Beth Smyth of Charlottesville. The new chair will support the college’s objective of preparing ethical and effective leaders in the world of business.
The H. Gordon and Mary Beth Reed Smyth Chair in Business Administration will build on the strong tradition of student-faculty collaborative work at Mary Baldwin. Assistant Professor of Business Administration Joseph Sprangel will accept the inaugural appointment from Mary Beth Smyth at a late-morning Mary Baldwin Board of Trustees gathering.
Sprangel has been an asset to the Mary Baldwin business faculty since 2010. His transition from work in the private sector to teaching began a few years earlier with a position at Ithaca College in upstate New York. Sprangel’s work as the Smyth Chair will focus on helping students learn how to “develop ethical and responsible ways to reduce the impact business has on the planet, while continuing to innovate products and services to meet the needs of a growing world population.”
The professor also is developing a student-led organization that would function much like a business sustainability consulting group, giving participants exposure to real-world decisions. Some members of that group are creating a proposal for a student-run campus greenhouse to grow vegetables for use in the college’s dining hall. Additionally, he is working with colleagues to develop a Business Advisory Council of industry executives.
Sprangel holds an associate’s degree in mechanical engineering technology, a bachelor of business administration, a master of business administration, and — a prerequisite for the new endowment — a doctorate of business administration.
Mary Beth Reed Smyth, who graduated from Mary Baldwin in 1947, has been recognized by her alma mater for her leadership and character with the Emily Smith Medallion and Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award. A former Mary Baldwin trustee, Gordon Smyth passed away in December. Among his many contributions, Gordon Smyth’s input guided the college through a period of expansion that included the creation of the college’s graduate program in Shakespeare and Performance.
The endowment is a continuation of the enduring commitment and generous support provided by the Smyths for many years. The couple sponsored the Smyth Leadership Lecture Series, which brought students in direct contact with acclaimed women such as Geraldine Ferraro, Benazir Bhutto, Cokie Roberts, and Venus Williams. Contributions from the pair also sponsored an annual business lecture that opened doors to many students’ careers. Realizing, however, that the nation’s economic crisis had become more serious, in 2008 the Smyths thoughtfully redirected their lecture series gift to provide all students with a 10 percent discount on textbooks purchased at the Mary Baldwin bookstore. The Smyths also awarded math and science scholarships to Mary Baldwin students through the years.