Kathleen Arnold Smarilli
What does a prominent businesswoman have in common with a state Supreme Court justice, a breeder of Kentucky Derby racehorses, a vascular surgeon, a pioneer of high–definition TV and the founder of a botanical garden? They each have served as president of the Penn State Alumni Association. And this summer on July 1, the torch was passed again. Kathleen Arnold Smarilli ’71 succeeds Barry M. Simpson ’69 as president of the Penn State Alumni Association.
Smarilli, a partner with Murphy McCormack Capital Advisors in Lancaster, Pa., is the 77th president of the Alumni Association. The first president was appointed in 1870—A.A. Breneman, an 1866 grad and a professor of Agricultural Chemistry and Physics. In between Breneman and Smarilli have been some accomplished and some interesting men and women:
Arthur G. McKee
Arthur G. McKee, who graduated in 1891, (1919–20): After working for Edison General Electric and Carnegie Steel, McKee established his own engineering firm providing consulting services to the iron and steel industry. On the side, he spent decades developing a botanical garden, McKee Jungle Gardens in Vero Beach, Fla., which attracted more than 100,000 visitors per year in the 1940s. On the National Register of Historic Places, McKee Jungle Gardens still attracts many visitors today.
Ben C. (a.k.a. Casey) Jones ’19 (1948–51): Professionally, Jones had a long and distinguished career with the West Penn Power Company. At Penn State, he served for a staggering 26 consecutive terms on Alumni Council. A lifelong friend of football Coach Bob Higgins, Jones helped recruit hundreds of young men with “both brains and brawn” to the Nittany Lion teams.
Fletcher L. Byrom
Fletcher L. Byrom ’40 (1965–67): Byrom was a CEO of Koppers Company, one of the 250 largest industrial companies in the United States, during his term as president. At the same time, he led some of the nation’s foremost intellectual organizations including the Institute for Advanced Study, one of the world’s leading centers for theoretical research and intellectual inquiry (Einstein was a faculty member) and the Conference Board, a global organization that disseminates management and marketplace information to businesses worldwide.
Larry Foster ’48 (1973–75): After an early career as a reporter, bureau chief and night editor of The Newark News in New Jersey, Foster joined Johnson & Johnson in 1957 helping to build the company’s first public relations department. His expert management of Johnson & Johnson’s response to the Tylenol poisoning in 1982—widely acclaimed as a model of corporate responsibility—along with numerous other contributions to the public relations profession, earned him many honors including the Gold Anvil from the Public Relations Society of America.
Jim Carnes ’61 (1999–2001): Carnes played a major role in the development of digital (DTV) and high-definition television (HDTV) and is recognized as a DTV Pioneer by the Academy of Digital Television Pioneers. The author of more than 100 technical papers and presentations, Carnes was recognized as a Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers and a member of the National Academy of Engineering and the European Academy of Sciences.
David Han ’88, ’05g (2007–09): In addition to his practice as a vascular surgeon at the Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, Han is an associate professor of surgery and radiology and the vice chair for educational affairs in the department of surgery at the Penn State College of Medicine.
Other interesting facts about former presidents:
- Some presidents—including George M. Downing, a graduate of the Class of 1888, and C. Alfred Smith, a graduate of the Class of 1861—have held the position twice.
- Some—including John T. Ryan Sr., who graduated in 1908, and John T. Ryan Jr. ’34—have kept it in the family.
- And many have gone on to greater service to the University—including 27 who went on to serve the University’s Board of Trustees.
During the past 20 years, four alumni, including Smarilli, who have held the post of Alumni Association president have been women, but the first female president of the Penn State Alumni Association was Blanche P. Miller, a graduate of the Class of 1885 who served in the office 1903–04. She was not succeeded by another alumna until Cynthia Baldwin ’66, ’74g, a county judge at the time, took the post 85 years later. Baldwin, only the second female and the first African American president of the Alumni Association, went on to serve as a Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice and served as chair of the University’s Board of Trustees 2004–06. The other two female presidents, Anne Riley (1997–99) and Marianne Ellis Alexander (2001–03), have also served on the Penn State Board of Trustees. The new vice president, who will succeed Smarilli as president in 2013, is also a woman, Kay Frantz Salvino ’69.
The remarkable men and women who have held this office have worked hard to improve the Alumni Association’s programs and services. “Each year, as the Penn State Alumni Association adds innovative programs and services for our alumni and students, we do so with the guidance and leadership of our alumni presidents and Alumni Council members,” said Executive Director Roger L. Williams ’73, ’75g, ’88g. “We are tremendously grateful for their efforts on behalf of the Alumni Association.”